Advanced Strategy: No-Limit Hold'emAt one time no-limit Hold'em was offered only in tournament settings, but it has recently been offered in many card rooms as a regular ring game.
Most no-limit ring games have a set buy-in (for instance, $200) or a range of buy-ins (for instance, your buy-in might be for any amount between $200 and $400). Of course, if you lose all of your chips, you can buy back in. The games have a blind structure and minimum betting structure just like regular limit games. A game may be called $200, 1/2 no-limit, which means that the buy-in is $200, the blinds are .50 and $1, and the minimum bet the first two rounds is $1 and the last two rounds is $2.
Because of the structure of no-limit, upswings and downswings are magnified. For this reason, if you decide to play no-limit Hold'em, you may need a large bankroll -- especially to start with.
No-limit ring games like these can be profitable for the better players. A strong recommendation is to play extremely tight when you first sit at a table until you get a feel for your opponents. These games allow solid players to use all of their tools in areas such as bluffing, pot odds, psychology, and solid game skills. Drawing hands go down in value and made hands (such as pocket pairs) go up.
For players who have a solid understanding of pot odds, no-limit Hold'em can be a gold mine. Because of the ability to place any size bet, you can manipulate pot odds to force your opponents to pay too high of a price to draw to their hand or make the price low enough that it is correct for them to call when you want them to. This fact alone makes the understanding of the correct use of pot odds imperative to anyone hoping to be a successful poker player.
Tight/aggressive play is the only way to be a successful no-limit Hold'em player. Good players rarely call in no-limit. They almost always fold or raise. This doesn't mean that you should never call; it just means that as you gain experience, rarely will you find yourself behind at the beginning of a hand. Instead, you allow your opponents opportunities to make mistakes because of this aggressive style of play combined with tight starting hand requirements.
While playing no-limit Hold'em, your first instinct will probably be to move all-in when you see pocket aces. In a typical game, this will win you the pot, but you will likely win only the blinds since everyone else probably folded. When you have a great starting hand such as AA, KK, AK, or QQ, your goal should be to raise enough to make all but one or two opponents fold. Then, if you are reraised before the flop, you can move all-in. Winning the most pots in a session is nice, but winning the most money is what counts. For this reason you must consider how to maximize your winnings with your best hands. The strategies concerning checking, raising, and check-raising are all tools you can use to make money at the poker table.
Texas Hold'em is a game that is simple to learn, but difficult to master. These tips should provide you a nice base for a lifetime of poker fun. Good luck!
For more information about Texas Hold 'Em Poker and other variations, try the following links:
- To see all of our articles on poker rules and advice, go to our main article on How To Play Poker.
- Some Poker Basics are essential before you sit down at the card table.
- For a more complicated version of hold 'em, learn How to Play Omaha Poker.
- Get to know the previous "most popular game in poker", in How to Play 7-Card Stud Poker.