So, you’re sitting on the dealer button and look down to find two Aces in the hole. This is going to be a good hand. As the action comes your way, player after player seem to be calling the big blind, looking to see a flop. Now the action is on you with three callers. You announce “Raise”, and make it two bets instead of one to see the flop. Only the small blind is scared out of the pot by your raise, and you take your once golden hand into the flop against four other players. What is this?
It’s limit poker.
If this style of betting doesn’t let you protect your big hands with big raises, why would you play limit poker? The answer comes in two words.
Even though the favorite style of televised poker, and even home game poker is now tournament play, the old-fashioned cash game is still alive and well. And at the cash game tables, limit is a popular style of betting.
Cash games have their advantages over tournament poker. For one, if you make a bad play, or take a bad beat, you don’t lose your seat. Instead, you can buy back into the game.
Another advantage is that, for online players, ring game play is where all of your chances to rake in poker room bonus money will be. Because on the cash game tables, the poker room takes a rake from many of the pots, they want to keep those tables busy. One way they do that is to offer bonuses to their players, and make play at the cash game tables the easiest way to earn those bonuses.
If you are a break-even cash game player with a sizeable bankroll, you can take thousands each month in bonuses from the online poker rooms. If you have a small bankroll, maybe you can only take a few hundred. At any rate, if you can play break-even poker at the cash tables, you open up some new opportunities for yourself.
While rooms are now offering no limit cash games, no limit poker in a cash game setting is for very skilled players only. Because of the nature of the betting, it is far too easy to lose the entire night’s winnings, or worse, spend your entire night’s bankroll on a single hand.
Limit poker offers a form of insulation from bad beats, or bad plays. While you can still bet a lot of chips by raising and re-raising in limit, each time you bet you have a chance to review the situation. You repeatedly choose to put money into the pot. In no limit, one decision can move a lot of chips. One moment’s loss of focus could be disastrous.
The strategies for playing limit and no limit are not the same. What may seem to be at first a subtle difference between the two games is anything but. I’ll be addressing changes in strategy between the two games in future articles.