Learning

A Guide to No Limit Texas Hold’em

First off, let’s establish that the concepts and strategies highlighted in this blog article cover the full ring game, that is, eight to ten players. Having established this fact, let’s go ahead with the exciting journey into the world of No Limit Texas Hold’em.

 

Texas Hold’em is undoubtedly the most popular variations of poker game. As a matter of fact, the entire pergola tournaments across the world feature Texas Hold’em. The major variant of this game that is being played regularly is the No Limit Hold’em game. Talk about the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, and the World Poker Tour, you can be sure to see this exceptional game in the list.

 

No Limit Texas Hold’em is the most frequently played game in poker tournaments. In addition to this, it has gained great tractions in cash games over the years as a result of the upswing in tournament game. One other reason for the increased growth in popularity of the game is its strong presence at the poker rooms. The poker rooms at the online platform offer a more flexible platform for these games because players often go broke regularly and require to be replaced which leads to lower total rakes. This could be a major problem for casinos because it’s hard getting new players at games but for the online platform, it is faster and smoother to get new players at tables.

 

It is important to mention that beginners in the field of poker should stay clear of No Limit Texas Hold’em. This is because the game is not ideal for beginners. The game requires very high premium on aggressive/tight play than many other poker variants. In addition to this, it entails significantly more advanced reading skills and strategy. This enables what is referred to as ‘play the players’ instead of the cards. In case you are very much interested in the game as a beginner, it is recommended that you start out at the game with low buy-in No Limit Texas Hold’em tournaments. The reason for this is because you will only risk a small amount of money per play at a session. Also, you will be motivated to learn how to play an aggressive/tight style of game. It is essential to mention that the aggressive/tight play is the most preferred style of gaming in tournament play.

 

It is crucial to note that there are different playing styles that are adept enough to win money in the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em. As a matter of fact, it is very likely that an excellent player win money at the end of the day by playing at every hand. Interestingly, this same player has the potential to earn as much money just by playing about 15% of the total hand. Let’s quickly look at the major differences between Limit and No Limit Texas Hold’em.

 

Major Differences between Limit & No Limit Texas Hold’em

The biggest disparities between Limit Texas Hold’em and No Limit Texas Hold’em are in the hand value and position. Position is the most important aspect of the game of No Limit due to the fact that the decisions that players make at the table have significant impact on their stack. If you can trap a player with position in No Limit, you have a high potential of winning the entire stack of the player. This is a drastic difference in comparison to the collection of a couple of bets in Limit games. Huge connectors such as AK, KQ, and AQ reduce in value at the point of playing No Limit and it is very likely that you will only win small pots while you lose the big pots with these kinds of poker hands. Also, all pairs rise in value when you play No Limit because you have the capacity to double through other players at the table when you hit a particular set.

 

Additionally, the big pairs, KK and AA, increase in value when you play No Limit because you have the opportunity to trap a player for his entire stack. It is very crucial to maintain a track of the money that you and the other players have at the table in No Limit. This is because of the fact that the variation in the size of stack significantly impact on how you play the game. Let’s look at some examples.

 

For instance, let’s say you have a total of $500 and the other player at the table has only $25, and you are playing at the blinds of $2-$4. Now you are the one sitting at the big blind position and you have a JT and the other player moves from the first position all-in. It is important to mention that this position is known as ‘sitting under the gun’. Back to the game, so at some point, all other players at the table fold. At this point, you need to fold also because you are most likely the underdog and you would have to risk $21 just to win your last $25. This is definitely not a lucrative game.

 

However, let’s say your opponent has $500 also; you might call because you have the potential of winning the $500 when you risk an extra $21. Essentially, the decision to call or not to call largely depends on the performance of your opponent after the flop.

 

Major Skills needed to be an Exceptional Player in No Limit Texas Hold’em

There are some crucial skills you need to develop in order to become an exceptional player in this game. Your ability to work towards mastering these skills will be of great help to you in winning big at the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em. Below are the skills you need to develop while learning to play the game.

 

  • Patience and Discipline: These are very important as they relate to strict hand selection
  • Excellent table selection: Understand that this is very critical in all games of poker, inclusive of No Limit Texas Hold’em
  • The courage to bet/call/ and raise
  • The ability to read your opponents at the table
  • Absence of vulnerability when going on tilt.

 

Important Strategy for the Game of No Limit Texas Hold’em

As you might have already known, understanding the strategy involved in a game of poker is very crucial to your success in the game. No-Limit Texas Hold’em is definitely not an exception. Let’s explore the crucial strategy involved in the game.

  • You must be highly discerning of your starting hands at the game. For instance, in the standard game of $2-$4 No Limit, you need to have a 20% to 30% view on the flop percentage. The implication of this is that you fold AJ in the first position, QT in the late position, and KT at the middle position.
  • Your Table Selection: You should only play at games that give you an edge. At least you should have some weak players with you at the table. Never be the weakest player at any No Limit table.
  • The Concept of ‘Playing the Players’: Here, you need to be quick to evaluate your opposition. Look out for opponents that play inferior hands, those who bet with draws, folds at aggression, calls big bets with weak hands and draws. Also check out for players who buffs and those that can be bluffed. You have to pay close attention to all these at the table.
  • Accord respects to most big bets as well as raises: Now this is specifically true with the river and on the turn. The reason for this is because most players don’t bluff.
  • Pump or Dump it: If the odds are in your favor, bet, raise or fold. However, you should evade calling except you have very good reason to, such as trapping your opponent.

 

Some Common Mistakes in the Game of No Limit Texas Hold’em

There are a couple of mistakes that players make at the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em. Knowing these mistakes will help you avoid them at tables. Let’s look at a couple of them.

  • Not letting go of a relatively good hand when you are beaten. The implication of this is that you might lose the whole stack on the long run.
  • Under or over betting the pot: With this, you risk a lot just to win small and you might not be able to protect your hand
  • Inability to raise pre-flop with your premium hands and going headlong with them even after the flop
  • Playing too numerous starting hands at table
  • It is also a mistake to call with weak holdings when you are facing a bet.

 

Now that we have dealt with the basics, let’s get right into the exciting part; how to play No Limit Texas Hold’em.

 

Pre-Flop Play

What is the hand ranking for the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em? If you are just starting out in the game of No Limit, the best starting hand to consider are the following:

  • The big connectors, which are AQ and AQ
  • The pairs of AA-22
  • The huge suited connectors, the AQs and AKs.

 

The Starting Hand Prerequisites

When you are engaged in an aggressive/tight style of NL play, the prerequisites highlighted here are very effective. If you are still a newbie in the game, this is definitely the perfect way to begin your game. Let’s look at this closely.

 

When playing, it is critical that you avoid marginal hands. If not, you would just have to engage in many guessing games and this can make you highly susceptible at the table. In case you have never sat at a table of No Limit Texas Hold’em before, it is highly recommended that you limit your gaming to only the pairs of AA-22, AQ, and AK. These hands are highly beneficial to you because with them, you won’t find yourself in many tough situations, and with them, you can also win big pots. It is important to emphasize that playing these hands alone needs that you have a high level of discipline. This is because you won’t get to participate in several pots. However, this strategy offers you the opportunity to study and understand the game while you observe other players as you participate in the game.

 

How do you modify a table based on the specific action playing before you?

Now, if you have some limpers ahead of you, it is recommended that you raise only with your top hands, like the AA-JJ and the AK. You should also be more predisposed to call with marginal hands because these hands play extremely well when it comes to multi-way pots. Also, if the pot has already been raised, you should consider the player that raised and make up your mind whether to fold, re-raise, or call. In case the player involved is a strong player, you should fold or re-raise. However, if the player is weak, your disposition should be to call. Since you would have an excellent opportunity to win a big pot when you hit great flop, you should re-raise the strong players with AA-JJ and AK in a bid to shut them out of the game and completely win the pot. If this is not possible, you should simply fold.

 

You should be more predisposed to call raises with all pairs of AQ and AK when you have weaker players at the table. However, this should only happen if you have specific position and are likely to end heads-up at the game. If this is not the case, then you should re-raise. The reason why you should do this is so you can trap your opponent on the flop at the point where you hit a great hand. This is actually better than shutting them out at pre-flop.

 

Raise vs. Limp

Whatever position you are, you should raise with AK, AQ, and AA-QQ. Technically, the other starting hands are regarded as limping hands and even though you may re-raise with these hands when guarding your blinds, you might want to consider raising with the hands when you are playing from a late position and first in. Once in a while, you might want to blend your play by calling, raising, or re-raising with the hands that you wouldn’t ordinarily play. It is very important that you are unpredictable at the table.

 

Flop Play

When it comes to No Limit Texas Hold’em, flop play is very crucial. The major factor is to decide the comparative power of your holding. It is very important that you build the capacity to release great hands, especially when you think they are second to the best. In addition, you need to determine the comparative strength of your released hands that is at risk of becoming the second best.

 

Understand that betting is a natural move when you want to preserve your good hand from getting out drawn by other players. It is also natural when you are faced with the chance to force your opponents to fold their good hand. It is recommended that you ‘dump it’ or ‘pump it’ on the flop.

 

There are some factors you need to put into consideration when deciding on the perfect action at any given time. Some of the facts to consider include the following:

  • Which player raised before the flop and what type of player is the individual?
  • What exactly did you flop and what is the relative strength of your hand, including flush draws, straight draws, paired board, and set, among others?
  • What is your stack size and that of your opponent?
  • What is the position you have relative to the player that raised?
  • How many other players are present at the table? Understand that it is a bit difficult to bluff when you are faced with three or more opponents and there is a higher probability that someone will hit with a strong hand.

 

When you are faced with a bet, it is essential that you fold except you have a good hunch to distrust the strength of the opponent at the table. You should remember that your opponent might have anything from nothing to the stone cold knock down. Really, you don’t necessarily have to fold always. As a matter of fact, you should try to play back with raises every now and then, especially when you have the chance to take the lead or when you perceive that your opponent has a weaker hand. In this case, you will be the one setting the odds and forcing your opponent into making a decision and a likely mistake.

 

Also, you should attempt to save your calls except you have an excellent reason to do otherwise. For instance, if you are drawing to the nuts or slow playing in a multi-way pot, then you might not want to save your calls. It is important to point out that you will hardly have the odds for pursuing out when calling in No Limit Texas Hold’em except your opponent has placed a bet that is too small or he gives free cards.

 

The Classic Scenarios at the Flop

There are typically four scenarios that can take place on the flop. We explore each of this in detail.

 

  • Very Strong Hand

This includes set and top two pair. When you have this, you should try to slow play in an inept board in order to tempt your opponents. By doing this, you encourage bluffs or push them to make second best hands. Nevertheless, if you have a coordinated board and many players at the table, you might have to over-bet the pot so you can make the opponents pay for trying to out draw you. You should understand that the larger the bet the opponents call, the bigger their mistake and with this, you can make a lot of money from poker. This is what is called making other players at the table pay to chase after you.

 

  • The Strong Hand

This covers top pair with A kicker and Over-pair, among others. If you have this hand, you should basically bet the size of the pot so you can protect it. Nonetheless, you may have to release the hand when you are faced with a raise or an over-bet. In a case such as this, another player may hold a larger over-pair, connectors, or a set that hit the flop for two-pair. Ordinarily, you need to avoid backing top pair with your complete stack. Now, if you bet and you are called in many spots, you would have to make a decision on whether or not your hand is the paramount. This is because it is not likely that your opponents would want to draw.

 

  • Medium Hand

This includes middle pair with A kicker, top pair with a weak kicker, and second pocket pair, among others.  In most cases, you need to evade betting this particular hand when you’re in an early position and you are face to face with many opponents. You should also not play this hand when you are confronting tricky players who are known for slow playing. Rather, you should get a free card in order to hit one of the pocket cards you have on the turn. You may also raise or call an opponent that bets from the last position. However, you should bet when you are in a late position and it has been checked to you. Also, if you are getting raised or facing a bet, it is recommended that you fold. Here, you don’t have any initiative and you are likely pursuing 2-5 outs.

 

  • Drawing Hands

These involve nut straight or nut flush. In these hands, if you have eleven out or more, and you are drawing to nut straight or flush, requiring a minimum of one over-card, you may blend up your game simply by raising, or check-raising, so as to win the pot straightaway or draw out at later rounds. Also, if you are gaming with calling stations strategy, you need to understand that this strategy comes with very low equity. With it, you might not be able to win many pots with semi bluffs. The only available option with this kind of hand is to raise or check-raise all-in, especially if you possess short stack and the involved pot is quite large. Here, you have two options of winning. First, you either win by out-drawing your opponents or forcing them to fold. With this, you have about 33% to 53% opportunity to achieve this if the outs feature between eight and fourteen.

 

In some cases, it might be ideal to call a bet on flop due to the present embedded odds. Ordinarily, this play is focused on the size of your stacks and that of your opponent. It is also decided by the size of the players’ bet. When a weak player with plenty of money decides to bet and also have a lot of money, you should call because this might lead you to double up if you are able to hit on the run.

 

Low/Middle/Top Set

This involves trips with the use of pocket pair. In this scenario, if there is high coordination in the board, you should try to make a stand and attempt to shut players out straightaway. This is because just about any card on the turn can be a scare card. There might be many players chasing, which means if you over-bet the pot by 200% to 300%, you are still in the right frame of things. In fact, if another player flops a flush or straight, you still possess about 34% chance to improve to a minimum of a full house. In a situation where the board is not coordinated, you may implement a slow play simply by betting or calling while trying to lure other players in. It is important to mention that moderate betting is the perfect option, especially if you have a couple of cards in the playing zone.

 

Top and Bottom Pair or Top Two Pair

With this hand, the play is almost similar to what you have when you play flopped sets. You should slow play this hand frequently with a call or modest bet. In case the board is very coordinated, you might want to discipline the drawing hands. Here, if there are many opponents, you should consider over-betting.

 

Conclusion

No doubt, there is so much to learn in the game of No Limit Texas Hold’em. It is important that you learn the game first and practice before you start high stakes betting. If you want to play with real money at all, it is recommended that you play low stakes until you have developed relative competence in the game. You shouldn’t play with large amount of money to avoid losing big in the game.