No Limit Poker Strategy - Strategies for No Limit Holdem

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No Limit Poker - Strategy Changes

"Limit poker is a science, no limit is an art."

No Limit Texas Holdem is extremely different from limit. In this article we'll begin to explore the primary differences between the two and how you will need to alter your limit strategy in order to be successful in no limit. We'll be covering some intermediate thoughts in this article, so you should already be familiar with the Basic rules for playing Texas Holdem. In particular, please be sure that you understand point 2 in the linked article above regarding raising. That could be an expensive concept if you don't understand the details.

Psychology and Bluffing in No Limit Poker

In comparison to Limit, Psychology and "feel" are much more prominent factors in being a successful no limit poker player. Since you are limited to the amount you can raise and bet in limit poker the game is much more mathematical. You play high cards and observe opponents who are undisciplined. Once you find them you raise to isolate yourself with them in the hand. While it is true that at the higher levels of limit play you must have an amazing read on your opponents to be successful, generally speaking you will often have to show a hand. It's very easy for opponents to simply "call" one more bet. This is true for limit games up to $30-60.

In No Limit poker psychology changes the game to a much higher degree than in limit. If I believe my opponent is weak in a limit poker game and raise him on the river he can easily call me because he only needs to commit one more bet into the pot. Additionally, he may be right in making the call if the pot is large and offering him the proper pot odds if he knows that I have potential for a flat out bluff. However, in No Limit if I raise an opponent who I suspect is weak I may be able to get him to throw his hand away since I can raise a substantial amount. In no limit, you can use a bluff much more effectively assuming that you have the right "read".

Pot odds are different

In Limit poker you are often on draws because the amount of chips that you need to put into the pot to call is small in comparison to the size of the pot. For example, if you are playing $4-8 Holdem with $30 in the pot and you have the nut flush draw you should call a $4 bet on the flop because you are getting the right odds to make your hand. Please see pot odds for more details. In fact, quite often you can safely assume that you should call the turn as well because you know the pot will be offering you better odds than the $8 you have to call. However, in no limit you have to factor in the fact that your opponent can bet any amount he/she wants. Thus, you may be getting much worse pot odds on your draws.

You draw less in No Limit Poker

Generally speaking, no limit poker is much more of a pair game rather than a drawing game. This is due to the fact that you and your opponents can drive out any drawing hands with a strong raise. For example, a pot sized bet on the flop makes it incorrect for my opponents to call with almost any draw (except for an open ended straight flush draw, see Poker Probabilties for details.) However, it should be noted that this opens up interesting possibilties with your draws. For example, you could put in a strong raise with a flush draw if you believe you can make your opponent fold. Once again this goes back to the fact that a bluff is a much more effective tool in no limit.

In No Limit mistakes are much more costly

Naturally since you can bet any amount of chips that you have in front of you this means that any mistake is going to be much more costly than in a limit game. In a limit game if you've been winning in a session and make a bad mistake it will only cost you one hand. So if you've won about 7-8 hands and lose one by playing extremely poorly you will still be ahead for your session. However, in no limit every hand is crucial to success. The 7-8 hands you've won can be wiped out in one hand. Or, you could double your whole stack.

This means that if you go on "tilt" you are going to do much more damage to your bankroll than if you were playing limit. All your mistakes are multiplied exponentially, however the good news is that all your opponents mistakes are multiplied exponentially as well.

Interestingly enough, not only are the mistakes more costly in no limit but luck is more costly as well. In a limit game if your opponent rivers a running flush you lose the hand. However, in a no limit game if you've pushed "all in" and your opponent calls and catches a running flush you've lost your whole stack. It's putting more money on your odds to win. That's a good thing for the expert, however it is not for the faint of heart.


Although No Limit and limit poker differ greatly there are a few key strengths that great players in both variations share. Aggression is still essential as is patience. Finally the read is also still critical. (See Texas Holdem Tips for more key strengths.) Quite often a player can excel in limit but lacks the feel to excel at no limit and vice versa. I know plenty of great no limit players who lack the ability to get into the mathematical groove of a limit game. With study both games can be excellent profitable tools for the expert poker player.

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