Limit vs. No Limit Poker

by Greg Cavouras

Ok, so weíve gone over the definition of Limit and No Limit and betting structures, but the difference between the two games is much more than betting structure. The whole game is played differently; just watch a game of professionals in each structure and youíll see what I mean. Letís have a look at what these differences mean in play:

First off, bluffing in limit games is totally different. As a matter of fact, I would go as far as to say that in a low limit structured game, bluffing is almost pointless. Why? Because you canít scare someone out of the pot with the small maximum permissible raises! Thatís for No Limit games, where a player with a large chip count can force a smaller stacked opponent to consider risking his entire stack and life in the game. Thatís the kind of bluff that makes an opponent fold a hand. Representing a strong hand is a common tactic, and it is obviously much more effective in No Limit, because you can force an opponent to bet his entire stack on the premise that youíre lying about the strength of your hand. In Limit, he would only be forced to bet a small percentage to get a read on you, and often in low limits, itís almost worth the call for pure recognizance.

A successful approach in limit games also requires a different touch- aggression is usually the order of the day. With a good hand you can force the issue in Limit games, because there isnít much choice to make when deciding upon the size of the raise. So, a good hand, depending on how much strength opponents have shown, usually is played harder than it would be in a parallel No Limit game. By contrast, No Limit is all about the T word- Trapping. When youíve got a monster in any play, the goal is to extract the maximum amount of chips from your opponents, and in No Limit, this can require more creativity. Feigning weakness, and slowplaying is what it may take to trap an opponent with a marginal hand, with the ultimate goal of having them believe their hand is stronger. At that point, itís possible to force them to commit their entire stack to the pot. As you can imagine, this may be effective in Limit games as well, but the maximum commitment you can get out of them is quite small by comparison.

Pot Odds also take on a different meaning between the two games; actually it goes to the heart of the difference. In a limit game, if you have a reasonable draw and itís a fairly low limit game, there is almost no raise possible that makes pot odds really unattractive. In No Limit, you can force players out of draws with large raises, because the pot odds look a lot less favourable with a huge raise outstanding.

While there are lots of differences in how you play the game depending on the betting structure, these should give you a good start in tuning your game to suit the limit of the table.

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