Still staying within the realm of poker’s most popular game of Texas Hold’em, Limit Hold’em (also referred to as Fixed-Limit Hold’em, or FLHE) encompasses a capped betting structure in the various rounds of gameplay (instead of allowing any player to go all-in whenever they please with however many chips are in front of them).

As the betting is capped and pots are often a lot smaller (in terms of big blinds) than those found in No-Limit Hold’em, the typical stakes played for Limit Hold’em are often much higher than their No-Limit equivalents. Resultantly, Limit Hold’em can still provide many large pots, intriguing math-based situations, and tons of fun for everyone to enjoy.

The purpose of this article is to shed more light on:

  • How to play Limit Texas Hold’em
  • The main strategic differences between No-Limit and Limit Hold’em
  • Additional strategic considerations to maximize profits in Limit Hold’em
  • Strategy for street-by-street play in FLHE

The Basics: Limit Texas Hold’em

Setup and Gameplay Procedures

Prior to the dealing of cards, two players to the immediate left of the button (a symbolic disc played in front of a player that (1) helps dictate where action begins for each betting round; and (2) gets moved to the next player on the left after every hand) place forward a small blind and big blind respectively. These are live bets that must at least be matched by other players in the initial round of betting if they wish to play.

Once the blinds are put forward, two hole cards are dealt to each player. After this, the first round of betting begins, starting with the player seated to the left of the big blind. Players have the ability to call the big blind (match the bet), raise (increase the size of the current bet), or fold (discard their hole cards).

Once preflop play has concluded by all bets having been matched by remaining players, a “flop” is dealt. This is where 3 community cards are placed simultaneously face-up on the middle of the table. These are cards that any and all players can use at the same time ultimately in trying to make the best 5-card poker hand (usually done in combination with their hole cards). At this point, another betting round takes place, starting with the first remaining player seated to the left of the dealer button. Play continues clockwise systematically from one player to the next. Players can opt to “check” (not bet anything and essentially pass their option of betting), or “bet”.

NOTE: In the following section of this article entitled “Betting Structure”, we’ll shed more light on exactly what the betting structures and caps in Limit Hold’em entail.

After the “flop” betting round has concluded, a 4th community card (the “turn”) is dealt and another betting round commences (following the same systemized approach as outlined above for the flop).

After this betting round is complete, a 5th and final community card (the “river”) is dealt. At this point, all available cards have been dealt and players can now accurately assess from the 2 hold cards and 5 community cards available to them what their best 5-card poker hand is. (See the “hand rankings” chart below.)

Once the last round of betting has been completed, any remaining players still involved in the hand reach a showdown, where they turn their cards face-up to determine who is the winner of the hand (who has the best 5-card holding). The winner is then awarded the pot; the button is moved one player to the left; then, a new hand is ready to begin.

Poker Hand Ranking Chart



Royal Flush

A-K-Q-J-T (all of the same suit)

Straight Flush

8-7-6-5-4 (all of the same suit)



Full House (Boat)

A-A-A-J-J (three of one, two of the other)


A-J-8-4-2 (all of the same suit)


8-7-6-5-4 (of various suits)

3-of-a-Kind (Set/Trips)


Two Pair


One Pair


High Card

A-Q-9-6-3 (different suits, non-connected, unpaired)


Betting Structure

The game of Limit Hold’em implies that there are limits placed into effect for each round of betting. These limits are implemented in a two-tiered structure, with the higher limit of bets usually being double the lower bet limit. Additionally, it should be noted that the lower limit is used in the pre-flop and flop betting rounds, while the higher limit bets are used on the turn and the river.

The limits dictate both the size of the initial bet made during a round of betting, as well as the sizing increments of the raises that be subsequently made in the same betting round. For example, in a $1/$2 limit game, on the flop, the initial bet could only be $1, and if any other player raised, the only permissible raise size would be to $2 total ($1 more than the initial bet).

NOTE: Having a larger bet-size in play for the later streets serves a great purpose, especially as the pot continues to grow from earlier streets. Not only does it allow players to more effectively bet for protection (by denying equity to their opponent and giving them worse odds for them to call than a small bet would), but it also allows a player’s bluffs to be more effective. For instance, their opponent would have to call and win a higher percentage of the time facing a larger bet than a small one.

As well as the betting limits being strictly dictated, the amount of bets/raises there may be per round of betting is also usually capped at either 3 or 4 raises after the initial bet. (This rule usually depends on the exact rules of the online site or casino at which you play).

That said, a frequently exception to this “cap” rule (again, something that depends on the exact “house rules”) is practised when players are “heads-up”. It would occur  either after all other players have folded in a hand and only two players remain, OR right from the start of the hand, if only two players are initially dealt in. According to this exception, the two players can continue raising back-and-forth between each other as much as they wish until one player is all-in.

Buy-ins, Stakes, and Bankroll Recommendations

As betting rounds are capped with limits that dictate betting size as well as number of permissible raises between players, buy-ins in Limit Hold’em are generally uncapped - meaning you could buy-in for $1,000,000 at a $1/$2 table if you really felt like it!

As for the minimum buy-in, usually this is at least 10x the lower bet in smaller-stake games (i.e. in live play especially), and 10x the higher bet (or “big bet”) in higher-limit games. Refer to the table below for commonly allowed minimum buy-ins for various stakes at Limit Hold’em.

NOTE: All stakes of FLHE, including micro stakes can generally be found online. If Limit Hold’em is offered in a live setting, generally stakes will start at either $1/$2 or $2/4.


Small Blind

Big Blind

Typical Minimum Buy-In





































































NOTE: Where applicable, such as in stakes of $3/$6 and $5/$10, the small blind is typically rounded down to the closest dollar.

NOTE: Remember that for limit games, the stakes provided refer to size of the small bets and big bets; not the preflop blinds (as in No-Limit).

Regarding suggested bankroll requirements, because pots in limit poker are significantly less than their no-limit or pot-limit counterparts, players can typically buy-into higher stakes games than normal, even if they have a smaller bankroll.

A common recommendation is that a player has at least a bankroll of 300 big bets for whatever stake they play. For example, if you wanted to play $1/$2 Limit (with a blind structure of $0.50/$1.00), you should have 300 x $2 = $600 bankroll. Similarly, for a game like $2/$4 FLHE, you should have a bankroll of $1200.

Spread Limit/Other Limit Games

In typical limit games, bet sizing tells are non-existent because of the structured limits of betting. However, there is one form of Limit Hold’em where these tells are still evident, and that’s in a variant called Spread Limit.

In Spread Limit, players have a choice of betting or raising any amount in between two set amounts. For example, in a “$1 to $5 Limit” game, players can bet/raise anywhere between $1 and $5 on the preflop and flop betting rounds. Then, on the turn and river, this amount is doubled in the later betting rounds to be anywhere in between $1 and $10.

Another variant of limit poker involves having different betting increments/limits for each round of betting, as opposed to one limit the first two betting rounds and another for the last two.

Overall, fixed-limit games are much more common than spread limit games, and the latter have become a form of poker that is very rarely played anymore, especially in recent years.

The Differences: Limit vs No Limit

Whether you’re transitioning from Limit Hold’em to No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) or the other way around, there are many differences between the two that should be noted. Using a similar strategy for the two can be detrimental because of the differences in strategy that are required from having varying betting structures.

  • The Importance of a Single Bet: Because bet sizes are not variable in Limit Hold’em, getting an extra bet in for value whenever you can (via a raise, re-raise, check-raise, or even betting yourself instead of checking back) will be massive in transforming your winrate in this poker variant! Often, simply profiting 1 big bet per hour is a respectable win rate for live play, so the importance of winning an extra bet whenever possible is very much a big deal! The same goes with saving an extra bet whenever you can too: if you lose a bet in a spot where you were behind, remember that it’ll take 2 bets for you to start profiting again. Play solid poker and make sound decisions to win those extra bets when you can. (Refer to the last two major sections of this article which outline strategy tips.)


  • The Name of the Game (and Blinds): If you were referring to a 1/2 NLHE game, blinds would be $1 and $2. However, for a 1/2 Limit game, remember that these numbers are representative of the size of the small and big betsnot the blinds. Therefore, for 1/2 FLHE, the blinds are $0.50 and $1.00 and that the $2 big bet will come into play in later betting rounds.
  • Thrill: No-Limit Hold’em is very much a roller-coaster of a game to play; going on multiple buy-in swings isn’t uncommon (even for the best of players). The high and lows of the emotional ride of it all can be very taxing, too! In comparison, limit play is more like a carrousel. The swings will not be anything near that of no-limit, and winnings and losses will come more gradually. As a result, if there are fish at your limit table, it can actually usually be more beneficial. in this instance, because they don’t go broke as fast. By a similar note, if you don’t feel that experienced, you’ll likely be able to enjoy a longer session with your buy-in than your average no-limit session, as you’ll avoid going bust as quickly.
  • Profits: NLHE profits are very much focused on the long-term. Through a large enough sample size, players will be able to then see if they’re winners or losers (because the variance and massive swings that players go through will ultimately even themselves out) Winning will also be dictated by pot manipulation and certain crucial aspects like bet sizing, street-by-street. For limit games, the best players will rise to the top simply though saving or making an extra bet wherever they can. It’ll be the decisions in the short-term that make more of a difference to their winrate than the variance of the long-term. In both NLHE and FLHE, sizeable profits are certainly achievable. It’s just that limit cash games are usually much larger stakes than their no-limit equivalents (which helps the case for making that 1 big bet/hour meaningful). As for tournaments, it should be noted that limit tournaments still do exist, albeit on the rarer side.
  • Implied Odds: As a player can go all-in at any moment in NLHE play (with bigger bets being common street-by-street – and in an exponential fashion!), implied odds certainly play a big part in this game, as you have the possibility of gaining maximum value on later streets if you get there. As for limit play, implied odds are nowhere near as valuable as expressed odds, simply due to the capped betting structure. (See the strategy section on “Equity and Pot Odds” below.)
  • Starting Hands: As you’ll discover in the strategy section, the most profitable starting hands in NLHE and Limit Hold’em vary dramatically. This situation is in large part due to the previous point of implied odds. In NLHE, suited connectors and small pairs will gain massive value in terms of playability and potential profits because of this. In limit play, big cards will certainly trump lower suited connectors and other similar hands. However, these latter hands can still certainly be playable in-position in multi-way pots.
  • Bet Sizing Is Irrelevant: In Limit play, because the betting structure is fixed, no additional information can be gained about the strength of one’s hand in relation to the size of the bet used (unlike NLHE). Instead, the only info about one’s hand is whether or not a player bets or raises versus if they check or call.
  • Protecting Your Hand: Again, because of the fixed betting structures, protecting one’s hand and charging the draws is something that should always be done (if you think you have the best hand). But this play is not as easily done in Limit Hold’em versus that of no-limit because of the smaller capped bet sizes.
  • Bluffing: As you move up stakes in limit games, you’ll find that good players will be able to fold rivers, despite the amazing odds they’ll likely be getting by that time if they call. In fact, it’s possible they’ll sometimes be overfolding, relative to the pot odds they’ll be getting on a call. As a result, while bluffing isn’t generally as big a part of limit games, against the right opponents and in the right situations, even when using such small (capped) bets relative to the size of the pot, bluffing can be a profitable +EV play. Just remember to always make the bluff believable. The difference in this compared to NLHE is the size of the bluffs and the subsequent better pot odds your opponent will generally be getting to call. As a result, it should be noted that bluffing on the river in limit games doesn’t have to work as often as it does in no-limit games in order to be profitable. However, by the same note, it isn’t something that should be attempted all too often – only when the time is right.
  • Stack Size: In limit play, stack size is (of course) irrelevant, because bet sizes and number of raises per betting round are generally capped. Therefore, only a certain number of big bets can generally be lost in one hand of limit. However, in no-limit, stack sizes play a much more prominent role in the game, both in choosing if and when to go all-in, in addition to sizing your bets and choosing how to proceed accordingly in various betting rounds due to stack size considerations. It should be noted that there can be a certain “intimidation effect” to be gained if one’s stack is (relatively) large in either of the variants. (i.e. Imagine the fear you might strike into other players if you’re sitting in with $10,000 at a $1/$2 Limit table – just for fun and because buy-ins are usually uncapped!)


texas holdem


  • Win Rates: Because of the larger limits and lower variance, win rates (in terms of big bets/hour) are generally smaller in Limit Hold’em in comparison to its no-limit counterpart. As mentioned, in Limit, a respectable win rate is 1 big bet/hour, with it ideally being between 1 and 3 big bets/hour. On the other hand, in NLHE, a higher win rate of 3-5bb/100 hands online and 5-10bb/hour live is generally desired and achievable amongst serious players. It’s because of the smaller win rate in limit play that makes each bet won so much more valuable! Subsequently, limit players must constantly stay “on guard” and focused throughout a session because every bet won or lost, and every decision made really does make a difference!
  • Number of Players/Popularity: While NLHE is quite understandably more popular than its limit counterpart, both games will still usually fill up to the maximum number of players to a table when games become available.
  • The Importance of the TURN: While the turn is a crucial street in both forms of the game, the turn is even more important in limit because of the (marginal but important) additional number of big bets won if you raise the turn versus the flop. The same principle can be applied when you want to 3bet in a situation post-flop, if the opportunity presents itself. Overall, any way that you can gain an extra bet in Limit is super crucial to profiting in this poker variant. Contrasting this to NLHE, you’ll see that the turn is much more about “pot control” or “setting-up-for-stacks”. Additionally, one can either raise the flop or raise the turn and usually be able to set up for stacks by the river in any case (because of the exponential increases in bet sizings).

The Strategy: How To Profit The Most

Equity and Pot Odds

Limit Hold’em turns out to be a math-based game. While range analysis and other skillsets come into effect in part (as always), much of the game revolves around the capped betting structures, and whether you should be betting for value and protection or checking for pot control.

As a result, knowing your poker odds is going to give you a leg up on the competition. The significance of relying on implied odds in Limit Poker goes down considerably, as the amount of money that can be gained on future streets is somewhat capped by the betting limitations. Therefore, expressed odds in this game are much more prominent and relevant when doing calculations to see if you’re getting the right price. (However, if you need to see if gaining an extra bet will make a call +EV, it’s easy to calculate this, as there is only one option for bet sizing.)

To help you out with figuring out expressed odds in terms of percentages, it’s important to refer to and to study the following odds chart so that you can determine whether or not you’re making +EV calls or not while at the table.


Number of Outs

Percent Chance of Improving

Turn or River

River only






















8 (open-ended straight draw)



9 (flush draw)









12 (flush draw + gut shot)









15 (straight flush draw)



NOTE: An “out” is a card that helps you improve to a better made hand than your opponent. For example, with 4-to-a-flush, there are 9 remaining unknown cards that could help make you a flush. Therefore, you have 9 “outs”.

This chart is a more exact example of something called the “Rule of 2 and 4”, which states that you should:

  • Multiply the number of outs you have by 4 with two cards left to come; and
  • Multiply the number of outs you have by 2 with one card left to come…

…in order to determine your approximate equity (percentage chance to improve your holding and win the hand) when you have a draw. If you don’t have the exact percentages from the above chart memorized, you can use this approximation rule to greatly assist you in your equity calculations.

After determining your equity, it’s important to relate this to the direct pot odds you’re getting in order to determine if you’re getting the right price to call.

The formula for determining pot odds is as follows:

 formula for determining pot odds


For example, let’s suppose for a turn scenario that there was:


  • A raise preflop
  • 2 callers (both blinds folded)
  • A flop bet and one call (the other player folded)
  • A turn bet

Remember for Limit Hold’em, turn and river bets are going to be twice the size of the preflop and flop bets. Therefore, in terms of “big bets”, our formula would look as follows:

1 (turn bet) / (1 (turn bet)+ 3 (PFR and calls) + 0.75 (blinds folded) + 1 (flop bet/ call))

This equates to 1 / 5.75 = 17.4% equity required for a break-even call.

If you wanted to calculate implied odds (assuming you hit your draw and can gain a river bet out of your opponent when you get there), you would simply add one big bet to the second part of the equation. As a result, the equity required would be 1 / 6.75 = 14.8%.

Therefore, even calling on the turn with a flush draw (19.6%) is correct based on expressed odds, assuming your flush will be good when you hit, and all your flush outs are clean outs.

It’s important to study the odds (both for outs and pot odds) so that the maths calculations become second nature to you while playing. It will help you out a ton, especially in limit poker where it carries a very high relevance. Also, while it’s rather obvious, after familiarising yourself with calculating approximate equities and pot odds, be sure to only call with your draws when having the right price.

The Importance of Position

As is true with all forms of poker, the importance of poker needs to be re-iterated for Limit Hold’em. Being able to better manipulate the size of the pot after seeing your opponent(s) act is always important in helping you win more pots, win more profits, and (more specifically) helping you gain that possible extra 1bb/hour to greatly impact your winrate.

Hand Strengths

In NLHE, a hand of decent strength must continue to have exceptional value after the first round of post-flop betting because the size of bets will exponentially grow. Oppositely, in limit play, once you make an initial bet, it’s generally advisable to stay in all the way to the river, but to not to be wary of folding if you feel you’re beat.

Know Your Opponents

In Limit Hold’em, knowing your opponents’ tendencies is extremely important. You don’t have any bet sizing tells to go by, as in no-limit games. Instead, you only have aggressive actions (bets/raises) or a passive actions (checks/calls) to differentiate your opponents by and use as betting tells. Resultantly, knowing well how your specific opponent(s) will go about playing certain hands in relation to the cut-and-dry betting options offered in FLHE will help simplify your decisions and help add profit to your long-term play. This point should also illustrate how you shouldn’t only be focused on your own hand and gameplay when playing and also consider that of your opponents when basing the reasoning for your decisions.

full-ring table in a live poker setting


Bet For Protection/Value


Because draws will be getting great prices in limit games, if you think you have the best hand currently, you should almost always consider betting or raising for value. Playing passive by checking or calling (allowing free cards to come) with your good value hands will be a disaster for you, especially since draws may even still be betting into you. If you think you’re good, take an aggressive route of play.

Don’t Become Predictable

In order to help balance your play and become unpredictable, feel free to vary your betting lines for certain hands, at times. Don’t always play certain hands the same way.

Limit Hold’em Strategy: Street-by-Street


  • Be Tight: This tip is the most important point for the pre-flop section. As in all forms of Hold’em, you’re going to burn through your money fast if you play a wide and loose selection of starting hands. Instead, you should play on the tighter side and base your playable range of hands off of your table position during the hand. Even though the bets may not be exponential (and the mistakes not as noticeable initially), if you play too loose, you’re going to find yourself in many –EV situations and on the short end of the stick more often versus other opponents who simply play a better starting hand range than you (i.e. and will frequently have you “outkicked”). It should also be noted that playing a tight strategy will also be most profitable at looser tables than at tighter/tougher tables. Always remember to table select wisely to help maximise profits.

  • Starting Hands: As with no-limit, it’s better to play a tighter selection of hands when in early position and a wider range of hands when in position (closer to the right of the button). That said, the starting hand guidelines are somewhat different from no-limit because of the capped betting structure and the amount of money one will generally win each hand. If you’re just starting out, it’s recommended to use this guide from as a solid guideline for which hands to play and from what positions in Limit Hold’em.
  • Deviations to the Starting Hand Range: As your abilities and skills improve, the above-mentioned guide should be treated as a loose guide rather than a fixed solution. It should be varied accordingly to a number of additional factors such as:
    • General tightness/looseness/tendencies of players at your table
    • How many players are involved in the hand, both in terms of (1) dealt in to the hand and (2) who’s already acted before you
    • Preflop tendencies of the players who already have entered the pot before you, in addition to what position they are entering the pot
    • Considerations of opponents who are still left to act after you
    • Your table position in the hand

Generally, the fewer players there are the table, big hands become more valuable. Additionally, a wider range of “big hands” than normal can be included in this category with a smaller number of players. Oppositely, with many players already in a hand at a fuller table, (i.e. single-raised pot with many callers), then calling with hands like suited connectors is great, because these hands flop / play well multiway.

  • Limping/Calling vs. Raising: Often times, because there will be frequently more players involved per hand than no-limit games, it can be appropriate to open-limp more speculative hands pre-flop in hopes of seeing many players come to a flop (i.e. suited connectors and small pairs). Of course, do still take opponent tendencies and position into account. With hands that play better versus fewer players, it’s safer to raise with these hands to try to thin the field.

Furthermore, it should be noted that after investing initially in a pot (i.e. by limping with speculative hands), it’s not always required to continue to see a flop if there’s multiple actions, such as a raise and a 3bet, after your initial limp.

In this case, it’s possible that the situation may not be favourable to continue, based on the likely hand strength of other opponents, in comparison to your position and likely equity disadvantage. The same principle can be noted for cold-calling 3bets: How well will your hand play post-flop in comparison to the likely range that someone is choosing to 3bet? Don’t be afraid to muck your hand in the earlier betting rounds if you think you’re majorly behind.

The Flop

  • Primary Considerations: Whether or not to continue (as well as how to continue) after the flop has been dealt frequently comes down to a combination of key factors, such as:
    • Number of players who saw the flop
    • Your table position during the hand
    • Your opponents’ tendencies
    • The strength of your hand
    • The likely potential holdings of your opponents’ possible hands
    • The texture of the flop, in addition to how this will be possibly affected by various turn/river combinations
  • How Strong Your Hand Is: How you decide to act will greatly be affected by how strong your hand is after the flop.
    • If you have a very strong hand on a very dry board, it will likely be advantageous to slowplay your hand and just call the flop in order to raise on later streets, as well as keep other opponents (who are likely drawing thin) along in the hand. That said, depending on the exact situation and/or how weak your “strong holding” is (i.e. two pair), playing straightforward (by cbetting or even check-raising) with specific holdings can help maximise value. It’s also recommended to bet or check-raise with stronger holdings, such as sets, if there are various draws on the board.
      • NOTE: Always calculate if it will be more +EV to raise the flop or raise the turn (when the bets are bigger) relative to the reads you have on your opponents and how you expect them to continue in each of the two possible scenarios.
    • With good hands, like top pair with a strong kicker, you can often take a bet-bet-??? line and decide on the river how to act, based on your opponents’ tendencies (passive or aggressive) in relation to the board runout.
      • NOTE: Kicker problems can become very relevant in Limit Hold’em. You want to try and ensure (or at least be consciously aware of the fact) to have a decent kicker to go along with your made hands, if you’re taking a hyper aggressive betting-for-protection route with hands like top pair.
    • With medium strength hands, it’s not always going to be clear what the best play will be. Betting will be advantageous if you can get value from worse 2nd or 3rd pair hands OR get stronger hands (like weak-top-pairs) to fold (if not on the flop, then perhaps on a later street). Playing aggressively like this and staying in the hand will also be a more superior option if there are fewer players in the pot. On the flipside, checking/folding should be utilised if you think the range of an opponent in the hand is stronger than you and you don’t have good, clean draw equity AND/OR there are multiple opponents where it’s very likely that you are crushed. If you don’t fold these hands on the flop, by going into full-on passive mode and just calling down with marginal holdings, you will put yourself in tough spots on later streets. As a result, to conclude this section on middling hands, usually either betting or getting out of the hand with a fold is going to be the better course of action to take.
      • For stronger “medium strength hands”, like top pairs with weaker kickers, normally you should bet out on the flop to thin the field and for value/protection, and then decide to fire at least one more additional street at some point for value.
    • With draws, it can often be correct to call down in Limit Hold’em because of the exceptional pot odds you’ll be getting. However, whether to fold, call, or raise will always fully depend on a multitude of factors such as:
      • The strength of your draw (i.e. drawing to the nuts or if there may be better hands, if you get there).
      • If you have any additional outs to your primary draw (i.e. pair plus flush draw – in this case, your pair could potentially better an opponent’s top pair by making two pair). With these high-equity hands, both calling and raising are usually respectable plays, but one may be slightly more +EV than the other, depending on the exact situation.
      • Number of players in the pot (yet to act, as well as those who’ve already acted).
      • Your opponents’ tendencies and how to exploit this in order to get your desired, maximized +EV result.
    • With no made hand, the only way to win is to bluff your opponents, which is generally inadvisable in limit, due to the great odds your opponents will be getting. It should also be noted that bluffs will only work when there’s fewer players involved in a pot (as it’s more unlikely that any one player will have a decent hand).
  • “How Can I Extract The Most Value?”: The best limit players are always thinking about how they can maximize their winnings and limit their losses over the entire course of the hand. They do this by relating the strength or potential of their current hand to their opponents’ likely ranges and judging what the best course of action will subsequently be. Don’t always play your hand straightforwardly, if there will be another way to gain more value from playing sub-standard.
  • Remember About the Betting Limit Increase in Future Betting Rounds: The turn and river betting rounds will carry more valuable/expensive bets. Remember this, too, when deciding how to act. In many situations, it’s likely that turn raises be more profitable than flop raises.
  • Pot Size: Larger pots will more often be fought for with calls and/or raises by other players (because of the better pot odds they’ll be getting, if you bet), whereas smaller pots do have the ability to be claimed - sometimes uncontested (i.e. if it’s a dry board and no one has much of anything).
  • Be Aware of Traps: Always stay aware of the possibility of traps and your opponents slowplaying big hands in order to maximise their EV later in the hand. Think about why they may be playing their hand in the manner they are, relative to your perceived competency of their abilities and the remaining determining factors for the hand.
  • Raising the Flop for a Free (Cheaper) Card: If you’re seated in late position and everyone else has bet or called an initial bet, with a decent-enough draw, it can often be advantageous to raise in this spot if you think the other players will just call. Then, because you were the last aggressor, players will often check to you “in flow” on the turn, allowing you to swiftly check back any turns you miss, or continue betting turn cards where you hit. This move gains its effectiveness because bets are cheaper on the flop versus the turn. If you raise the flop and can guarantee yourself the ability to see a free river card, then you are saving half a big bet every time you would’ve otherwise called a (larger) turn bet with your draw. You also stand a chance of winning more money for the times you make your hand on the turn and can continue firing in position.

The Turn

  • Bets Get More Expensive: The turn is the “turning point” for decision-making in a hand! As the price of poker increases on this betting round, it’s important to start making folds, if necessary. Being a passive calling-station is a recipe for disaster, as this play style will often lose you the most money! If you have the best hand, get value with a bet or raise. If not, don’t be afraid to throw your hand away.
  • Maximising EV with Strong Hands: If you have a strong hand, it’s often correct to bet and gain more value. However, from out of position, sometimes it can be advantageous to go for a check-raise (especially with the larger bet size this round); it should be noted, though, that this is dependent on your reading of whether your opponent will bet if checked to. Giving a potential free card from checking can be a disaster if you would’ve been able to gain another bet by betting and your opponent calling.
  • Draws: Draws continue to be easy to play, as it’s usually a simple maths problem now with one card left to come. Always try to calculate your equity using “clean outs” (outs that will not help improve your opponent to an even better hand simultaneously). Also, consider the strength of your draw in order to get the most accurate estimate on whether you should continue.

The River

  • Value Betting vs Checking to Induce: If you think you likely have the best hand, then you should opt to bet the majority of cases on the river. Even with thinner value hands, the additional fold equity you gain by betting (albeit usually slight in limit games), there’s always the possibility of you winning by your opponent incorrectly folding a slightly better hand. At other times, especially with more of your “showdown value” hands, checking to try to induce an extra bet from your opponent (by getting him to bluff) can sometimes work, too. Just know if your opponent is the type of player who can take the route of bluffing rivers, if you choose to check to induce.
  • Bluffs Can Work but Shouldn’t Be Overused: Because of the frequently large pot sizes on the river relative to the small, limited size of bets, it can be difficult to successfully bluff in Limit Hold’em. Therefore, attempting river bluffs in FLHE is something that should only be rarely done. Over the years, limit players have been taught that losing an additional bet isn’t a great tragedy (i.e. if they call). However, losing an entire pot (i.e. by folding to a river bet) is! From the perspective of the bluffer/bettor, though, you must realize that river bluffs don’t need to work as often as you expect for them to show long-term profit. In fact, let’s suppose the pot is 7 big bets, and you bet 1 big bet, your bluff only needs to work just over 12.5% of the time to show long-term profit. Therefore, with all of this knowledge put together, the real key to bluffing successfully is timing. If you do try to execute a well-timed bluff, usually it should centre around some primary factors:
  1. Have a tight image, so as to help get the folds when you need them, as your opponents won’t be expecting you to bluff as often, if ever!
  2. Bluff primarily only in heads-up pots. Otherwise, it’s difficult to get all players to fold to an additional bet.
  3. Assess using your hand reading abilities, the way the hand has played out, and your opponent’s tendencies if you think your opponent(s) will fold to a river bet, usually because they will have too weak a hand to continue (but still one that would beat yours). Ask yourself if the story you’re telling through the course of the hand is believable, and not just a futile, final effort to unsuccessfully win the pot.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Fold: While you’re often going to be getting an amazing price to call a river bet, there’s a difference between calling the vast majority of the time and being a straight-up river calling station who never Those extra big bets you can save the times you’re almost certain you’re beat will help add-up loads to your win rate and is quite often the difference between good and great players! Use your hand reading abilities and knowledge of your opponent to help dictate when you need to make a tough fold. (But, again, the majority of the time, you’re likely going be calling rivers – just not necessarily with 100% frequency).

In Conclusion

While there is certainly depth to the rules and winning strategies of Limit Hold’em, the game is simple to play and has many positive qualities, especially if you’re new to poker and just starting out:

  • Limit games help you avoid going bust, as quickly, because of the capped betting structures, therefore allowing you to often enjoy playing longer sessions of it.
  • You don’t have to worry about difficult, specific NLHE strategic concepts – the biggest of which concerns what bet sizes to use in various situations.
  • Limit games allow you to familiarise yourself quickly with the basic concepts of poker (such as pot odds and simple mathematical calculations) in an easier setting than a no-limit game.

While Limit Hold’em’s popularity has declined over the years and made way for its brother (NLHE) and other game types like PLO, it’s still certainly possible to try your luck and enjoy the perks of this timeless variant!

Matthew Cluff is a poker player who specialises in 6-Max No Limit Hold’em games. He also periodically provides online poker content for various sites.