Here's a solid introduction to limit poker strategy. I'll discuss what to do, what not to do, and how limit is similar and dissimilar to the more common no-limit variety. By the end of this article, you'll have a good understanding of how to tackle the game.
Understanding limit poker strategy essentially comes down to understanding that while limit poker offers up a relative safety net of predictability when compared to its no-limit counterpart, you still shouldn't go nuts unless you actually have the nuts to back it up.
Sure, limit poker allows you to gauge your winnings with more assurance, minimizes variance and, if you play online, it's better suited multi-table action since its more automatic. (Playing multiple tables also allows you avoid committing to higher limits to get the same rate of return on investment).
These perks make limit a popular pick for grinders since they can better predict what they stand to win and what's coming in. Of course, solid limit poker strategy is imperative if you want to make sure you have anything coming in at all.
Limit Poker Strategy: Play to Win
The bulk of limit poker strategy will come into play in the inaugural stages of the hand. In fact, the first bit of strategy should be implemented before the game even begins...
Before you even sit down, know that playing limit poker requires infinitely more patience than no-limit poker. You are going to be grinding it out at comparatively low stakes for longer periods. This easy pace may appeal to some players, but if boredom is beating you down, try playing multiple tables. Not only will this ward of waning enthusiasm, but it will also help you max your ROI (return on investment). Another way to maximize your ROI is to play at higher limits – once you've got a handle on limit poker strategy, of course.
Pre-Flop Limit Poker Strategy
The restrictions enforced on betting in limit poker will encourage a lot more players to stay in the hand and see it through. This means that there will be a lot more showdowns, so you'll need to carefully weigh your hand pre-flop by determining its showdown value. This will help you gauge whether you should fold, cold call, open-raise or 3-bet.
So how do you know if your hand has showdown value?
Let's be honest, there is no one way to know for certain. This is the crux of not only limit poker strategy, but all poker strategy. Whether or not your hand has showdown value will depend on a myriad of factors, including your opponent(s), your table image, the board texture and the action.
This said, as a broad rule, you can identify a hand with showdown value as one that is probably not strong enough to bet for value, but will usually win come showdown.
In general, these are hands like AKo, JJ, TT (which you will seriously want to consider raising) and AA, KK, QQ and AK (which you'll seriously want to consider 3-betting). It's best to avoid calling two or more small bets cold pre-flop with unpaired off suit hands (AQo, KTo, QJo, and so on).
Reign it in to Rule
When thinking about your limit poker strategy, think about form complimenting content. The betting structure is limited, and so should be your range of playable hands – more so than in no-limit poker. You don't want to play too much just because you don't think you stand to lose as much. The point of playing any poker is to win. You CAN and will still lose if you push your luck too far. (In fact, we don't want to push your luck at all in poker. Don't rely on it, don't push it, don't try to outplay it. You can't!)
As discussed, part of your limit poker strategy also involves keeping your patience in check. Yes, this is a slower moving game, but for players who want to turn their passion into their profession, limit poker is a solid main stage. You get a little job security, and still get to tear up the tables. It's win-win, and you cant argue with those odds.
Photo Credit: Arnaud Fraioli | Flickr