Playing Limit Hold'em
Limit Hold'em is played with a fixed blind structure and fixed betting limits on each round. The big blind is usually equal to the smallest size bet, and the small blind is half the big blind. The first two rounds of betting use the small bet, and the last two use the large bet. For example: In a 2/4 (2 dollar/4 dollar) limit game, the small blind is $1, the big blind is $2, the first two rounds of betting are in $2 increments, and the last two rounds are in $4 increments.
There are minor variations on the usual rules of of Texas Hold'em that you might like to try. These versions vary the number of cars you receive at the start of the hand, and they take their name from a sweet tropical fruit.
Pineapple is played exactly like Texas Hold'em except that each player receives three hole cards and must discard one before the flop. The betting for that round is prior to the discard.
Crazy Pineapple is played exactly like Texas Hold'em except that each player receives three hole cards and must discard one before the turn card is dealt. The betting for that round is also prior to the discard.
A few card rooms offer spread limit Hold'em. Spread limit Hold'em is stated as 2/10 or something similar. The blinds are the same as fixed limit: For example, in the 2/10 games, the small blind is $1, and the big blind is $2. The difference is that all other bets in spread limit may be anywhere from $2 to $10. The only additional rule is if a player reraises another player, the raise must be at least the size of the previous raise. In brick-and-mortar card rooms, the smallest limit available is usually 1/2 or 2/4 and the largest can be 10,000/20,000 or higher. Most recreational players play 1/2, 2/4, 3/6, 4/8, 5/10, or 10/20. As a general rule, the higher the limits, the better the competition.
For beginners, some Internet sites offer stakes as low as .01/.02, as well as the option to use play money and risk nothing at all. Some professional poker players play only limit Hold'em and make a very good living at it. Becoming a profitable limit Hold'em player is about starting hand selection, understanding pot odds, and discipline, as well as understanding betting patterns. Each of these elements of Texas Hold'em is discussed in detail later in the following sections.
Playing No-Limit or Pot-Limit Hold'em
If you watch poker on television, no-limit Texas Hold'em is probably the format you are watching. It is most often used in tournament play, but it is also offered in many card rooms as a ring game (nontournament game). In no-limit, players still post blinds according to a set schedule depending on the house rules and often are required to place antes as well. What makes no-limit different from limit is that placed bets after the blinds can be for any amount up to the total amount a player has on the table.
In a no-limit tournament, making just one mistake can knock a player out of the game. No-limit also allows many opportunities for better players to bluff opponents out of a hand. Often a player who goes all-in (raises with all of his/her chips) is called by someone who doesn't have as many chips. In this case, if the player who started the hand with more chips loses the hand, he/she gets back any amount over what the other player had to start the hand. For example: Player 1 goes all-in with $200, and player 2 calls but has only $100. Player 1 loses but gets back $100, and they play out the next hand for the remaining $200 ($100 from player 1 and $100 from player 2) in the pot. (No-limit Hold'em is discussed in greater detail later in this article.)
The betting in pot-limit Texas Hold'em is not as structured as limit Hold'em but not as risky as no-limit Hold'em. The rules for blinds remain the same, but you can bet only up to the amount that is in the pot. So, for players who want more freedom in their betting than is allowed in limit Hold'em, but want to stay away from the kind of action involved in no-limit Hold'em, pot-limit Hold'em is the preferred game of choice.
Now it's time to get into the finer points of Hold'em strategy. We will begin in the next section with one of the most important elements of any poker game -- position and starting hand selection.
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.