Introduction - No Limit Texas Holdem
The purpose of this article is to assist beginner/intermediate players improve their game. The strategies and concepts suggested in this text relate to full-ring games (8-10 players). A good way to help you on your way at the NL holdem tables could be to download a free license of one of our poker odds calculators.
No-Limit Texas Hold'em is most frequently played in tournaments, though it has gained a lot of ground in cash games in recent years due to the upswing in tournament play. Another reason for it's increasing popularity is that, as opposed to casinos, online poker rooms are better positioned to host these games. This is because players go broke more often and need to be replaced so the total rake gets lower. For a casino this poses a problem, whereas for an online poker room the process of getting new players to the table is smoother and faster.
No-Limit Texas Hold'em is not suitable for beginners, as the game requires and places a much higher premium on tight/aggressive play. As well, it involves considerably advanced reading skills that allow you to "play the players" rather than the cards. If you are interested in trying out No-Limit Texas Hold'em as a beginner, you should start out with low buy-in, no-limit tournaments. This is because you will risk a modest amount per playing session and will more or less be forced to learn to play a tight/aggressive style (as this style is generally preferred in tournament play).
It should be noted that there exist several playing styles capable of winning the money in No-Limit Texas Hold'em. It is quite possible that, in a good game, a great player could win money in the long run by playing every hand, but that very same player might collect about as much by playing only 15% of the hands.
Differences between Limit and No-Limit Texas Hold'em
The biggest differences between No-Limit Texas Hold'em and Limit Texas Hold'em involve position and hand value. Position is far more important in No-Limit because the decisions you make will have a greater impact on your stack. If you trap someone in No-Limit with the help of position, you can win your opponent's entire stack as compared to collecting a few extra bets in Limit. Big connectors like AK, AQ and KQ decrease in value when you play No-Limit as you are more likely to win small pots and lose big pots with these types of hands. As well, all pairs increase in value when playing No-Limit since you are able to double through your opponents when you hit a set. The big pairs, AA and KK, also increase in value when playing No-Limit as you are again presented with an opportunity to trap someone for his whole stack.
In No-Limit it is important to keep track of the amount of money you and your opponents have on the table. The variation in stack size greatly affects how the game is played. Some examples are as follows:
- You have $500 and your opponent has $25, the blinds are $2-$4. You are sitting in the big blind with a JTs and your opponent moves all-in from first position (a position referred to as sitting under the gun). All other players fold. This is clearly a situation in which you should fold since you are most certainly the underdog and risking an additional $21 in order to win his last $25 is not a profitable play. If your opponent also has $500, then a call may be acceptable as you have a chance of winning $500 by risking another $21. The decision of whether to call or not depends on how well your opponent plays after the flop.
- You have $1000 and your opponent also has $1000, the blinds are $2-$4. You hold QQ and make it $20 to go. Your opponent, who is acting behind you, now moves all-in with his entire $1000. You should fold unless you know your opponent does not have AA or KK. If your opponent made the same play with only $60 in front of him, you should call his all-in bet in the hopes that he does not hold AA or KK.
Key skills to becoming a good No-Limit Texas Hold'em player
- Strict hand selection (patience/discipline)
- Good table selection (very important in all poker games)
- Discipline (the ability to wait for a good hand and not chase)
- Reading opponents
- Courage to bet/raise/call down (aggressive with draws or perceived best hands)
- Not vulnerable to go on tilt