Limit Holdem Strategy

published on 07/10/08 at 12:53 pm

If you ever played micro or low limit Holdem I suppose I needn’t tell you that it’s one of the most frustrating games you’ll ever play in an online poker room. Texas Holdem can be an extremely frustrating luck-dependent game in which schooling runs rampant under the right circumstances. Well, in low limit Holdem, the circumstances are indeed right to bring out the worst from this game. Because of the capped betting, and because of the small change involved, every player is going to call every bet all the way to showdown. This way, schooling will be huge, and all hands will lose value seriously except the extremely solid ones. Another thing is that low limit tables attract the majority of rookies which – in this instance – will only add to your frustration. A relatively easy way to squeeze money out of these low limit tables is to play extremely simplified poker. Never commit on anything only when you’re fairly certain you have the best hand. Remember, pots are randomly won on every hand, and mathematically, the distribution of wins around the table shall be approximately equal because of the chaotic play. The only way to squeeze money out of the game is to limit your losses.

On higher limits, play will be less chaotic, but players will be much better and therefore your job won’t get any easier. Here though, you can no longer afford to stick to basic tight-aggressive play. You need to force your edges, and since this is not no-holdem territory anymore, you’ll be able to deploy some more advanced weaponry.

The Check-raise bluff is one such weapon. You cannot use something like this in low limit Holdem because you cannot bluff people there. Your $0.4 raise will not scare anyone, and you cannot shove any more into the pot.

In order for this move to be efficient, you need to play at a $10/$20 table at least. The check-raise is a weapon well-known for NL players. You check your turn in order to have someone else bet into you and then, when he does, you complete the trap by raising him. Good players will catch on immediately that they just walked into the trap, and good players are the ones most likely to fall for it too, because they’re tempted to bet into a pot that is checked around to them to steal it. Make sure you get fairly accurate reads on your opponents before check-raising them. A player who doesn’t understand the trap he just walked into will be much harder to bluff this way.

The benefits a check-raise bluff can provide you in Limit Holdem are obvious: it’ll enable you to scoop up some pots you would never have won otherwise. The risks are numerous though. If you get read and you’re caught red-handed on your bluff, it’ll be a costly business. If your opponent is too dumb to understand the situation, it’ll cost you a lot.

The check-raise semi-bluff is another great weapon, extremely deadly when used against tight-aggressive players. Its goal is the same as that of the simple check raise bluff, but it carries additional value: it gives you a shot at not only recovering when – for whatever reason – your check-raise bluff backfires, but also to take down a huge pot on it.

Again, only resort to these tools when you’re playing in a high limit game. High-limit tables feature experienced opponents, who – unlike rookies – will be vulnerable to your check-raises.

Bluffing on the flop should be another important weapon in your arsenal. If you get a fairly good starting hand and you raise preflop on it, you might want to fire a second bet on the flop even if it misses you. Sometimes it’s a great move, which – again – results in your winning a pot which would otherwise have ended up in an opponent’s pockets.

Sometimes, it’s easy to make the call. If you’re in position and the pot gets checked around to you, it is in a way your obligation to fire a second bullet. Sure, someone may have flopped a monster and may be slow-playing it, but if you get called at least you know you’re up against a hand there.

Slow-playing is something to consider, but only when you have a truly good hand and you’re fairly certain you won’t be outdrawn. Whenever you slow-play, you give up control, you let your opponents land free cards and that may often have fatal consequences. While I do not like to slow-play, sometimes it is indeed the optimal decision as you aim to get as much money into the pot as possible. Regardless at what limit you play, or whether you play NL or Limit, signing up to a rakeback deal will always give your odds a huge lift. While a good rakeback deal will have an immediate though minor influence on your pot odds, you’ll only be glad you signed up for it at the end of the month, or whenever the poker room delivers your rakeback money.

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One Response to “Limit Holdem Strategy”

  1. Saxman

    Aug 5th, 2008

    Good article. I think something worth pointing out is that limit hold ‘em really should be treated as an entirely different game than no limit. I’m amazed at the players (usually in a B&M) that get so frustrated (and usually vocal) about their hands getting drawn out on. In no limit, they would be able to bet opponents out of their draws. In limit…it’s just not going to happen. Limit players need to recognize that it’s a different game. Trying to play it like no limit will not work. Once you recognize the difference, and embrace it for what it is, your enjoyment and success rate will go way up.

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