Types of Hold ’em Games

There is more that one variation of a Texas Hold ’em game that can be played, each of which has it’s own set of strategies. It is important to choose a game that you are comfortable with and that suits your level of experience. It’s no good entering a multi-table tournament with a large prize fund, if you just started playing Hold ’em for the first time last week.

In this chapter we shall cover some of the differences in play and strategy that you will come across when watching or playing these games.

LIMIT GAMES

Most of the information in this book is based on the limit game of Hold ’em. When you play a limit game, the betting structure is limited so that players cannot get bullied by other players that hold large chip stacks.

BETTING STRUCTURE

When looking to play a limit game, you need to choose one that in is your comfort zone, it’s no good going for the higher limit games if your funds do not allow for it. Instead start at the lower end and work up, increasing your funds as you go.

As we have already covered in the Betting section in Chapter 7, limit games have both lower tier and higher tier limits specified. Usually, this means that it is only possible to bet or raise the lower limit amount, before and on the flop. On and after the turn card, the higher tier is used and only that amount can be used to bet, or raise.
For example, if you are playing a $10-20 game, then you

can only bet or raise $10 in the betting rounds, before and on the flop. After that the higher tier is used and the bet amount becomes $20 per bet or raise.

The blinds are normally set at half the lower tier for the small blind and exactly the amount of the lower tier for the big blind.

BASIC STRATEGY

When playing a limit game it is harder to bluff and bully other players as the bet amounts are limited. This means that you can’t move all-in with your entire chip stack in an attempt to push another player off the table.

You need to pay attention to your playing style and limit games are where you need to play a tight game. This is because of the fact that frequently, the hand will reach a showdown and you will need to show your cards. Having a strong hand throughout the game will see you having a good chance of winning the pot. Your best hands will be the ones that are made with high cards in the hole, rather than lower pairs or connectors that you hope may make a flush or straight.

Keep it simple and play the long game. Don’t be tempted to play a moderate hand just because you have been waiting for what seems an eternity, for strong pocket cards. Patience will be rewarded.

When you do eventually get dealt good strong hole cards, play a good strong game to win the pot.

Even if you do decide to play a not-so-strong hand once in a while, seeing as the bets are capped, you won’t get broke too quickly and will have a chance to recoup your loss by reverting back to tight game play.

Holding connector cards in the hole and playing a drawing hand can be fairly lucrative if there are a few players in the pot. Make sure that you have a good set of cards and a good chance of beating other drawing hands.

Like every game of Hold ’em, use your position to your advantage and look to play tighter in early position and a bit looser when playing late (position that is, not late at night!). Finally, experiment with your strategy and have fun. You are not going to lose large amounts in limit games, so you have some leeway to practice and concentrate on building your experience.

SPREAD-LIMIT GAMES

Spread Limit or Variable Limit games are when the betting structure allows players to place bets within a predefined range. This concept progresses nicely from the limit games.

With a betting structure of $4-$8, players can place bets anywhere from $4 to $8. Whereas in the limit games this would be interpreted as the lower and higher betting tiers, in spread-limit games, there is no higher or lower tier and the players need only bet within the specified range.

The only caveat is that if a player before you raises, then if you intend to raise you will need to raise the amount of the previous raise, or more.

If for example, Player 1 raises $6, then Player 2 would need to raise a minimum of $6 if they intend to raise.

Another betting structure that you may come across in the Spread Limit arena (although they could also sit quite comfortably at home as an extension of the limit games), is one that looks like this: $1-$4-$10-$10. This means that you are able to bet from $1 to $4 before and on the flop and from $1 to $10 on the turn and the river.

NO-LIMIT GAMES

The no-limit games are commonly seen in poker tournaments such as WSOP (World Series of Poker), the WPT (World Poker Tour) and televised events and as the name suggests there are No-limits in how much you can bet, or raise.

As a player you need to play a more aggressive game and it is often seen that players win the pot long before getting anywhere near the showdown.

Limit games are not for the beginner as the stakes are exceptionally high. It won’t be long though before you get to this level if you learn the game and improve your tactics. One of the players playing in the WSOP 2009 event had only been playing poker for 18 months!

POT-LIMIT GAMES

In a Pot-Limit game, players can bet any amount from the minimum bet, up to the size of the pot.

Let’s say for instance that we are playing a $2-$4 pot- limit game and we are on the second betting round. There are three players left in at this stage of the game.

The amount of money in the pot currently stands at $10 from the previous betting round and is known as the Starting Pot.

Player 1 bets $4 increasing the pot to $14.

Player 2 states that they want to raise the pot by stating “Raise Pot”, making the new pot total $36. This is made up of a starting pot of $10 + Player 1’s bet of $10 + Player 2’s call of $4 + Player 2’s pot raise of $18.

This makes a total of $36 in the new pot. Before the raise amount can be determined, the pot amount and both players bets are added together. This amount then becomes the interim pot amount and therefore the raise amount (see inset for example breakdown). Player 2’s Pot Raise consists of their call amount plus their raise.

Player 3 decides to call Player 2‘s pot raise of $22, making the new pot amount $52.

At this stage, if Player 1 wishes to call, then they will need to make up the difference of $54 in order to equalise their bet.

Pot-limit Betting

Starting Pot

$10

Player 1

bet: $4

new pot: $14

Player 2

starting pot: $10 player 1 bet: $4 player 2 call: $4 current pot: $18 player 2 raise: $18 new pot: $36

Player 3

starting pot: $10 player 1 bet: $4 player 2 pot raise: $36 player 3 call: $22

new pot: $58

Pot-limit games can get a bit complex and are best avoided when just starting out. Keeping track of the pot amount and raise amount can easily become confusing when a game speeds up.

SIT & GO’S (SINGLE TABLE TOURNAMENTS)

Since this is the first logical place to start when learning to play Texas Hold ’em, we covered this type of game earlier on in detail in a previous chapter.

Until you feel that your experience level and skill has improved significantly, this is the game of choice. Stick with it, learn and start to incorporate some advanced strategy as you play, over a period of time, until you are able to continually win this type of game.

MULTI-TABLE TOURNAMENTS

When entering into a multi-table tournament you are really going in for the long-haul. These types of tournaments can taken a lot of hours and sometimes days to get through, but why?

As the name suggests there are a number of tables that are playing poker simultaneously. An increase in tables means an increase of players and a five table tournament can start with around 50 players.

When a player gets knocked out they are removed from the game and all the players are then shuffled around and re-distributed in order to ensure an equal number of players per table, until there is only one table left – The Final Table.

There are regular breaks so you don’t need to sit on the loo when playing online!

PLAYING A MULTI-TABLE TOURNAMENT

It’s possible to buy in to some of these tournaments quite cheaply, say for example around $38 so once your skills are improved you may want to look at playing one weekend.

One of the things that excites me with this type of tournament, is that it is sometimes possible to qualify and

Win a place on the final table of a World televised poker tournament, like the World Series of Poker, The Aussie Millions and the World Poker Tour. Of course it is not possible to guarantee that this will always be the case, but certainly there have been online players qualifying for these tournaments and it is becoming more common. It could be you – you just never know!

STRATEGY

The main part of your strategy is to play good solid poker, especially during the early stages of the game. Remember, that you are in this for the long-haul and your chips need to last. Play a tight game with strong hands, minimise bluffing and don’t get coaxed into playing all-in.

Having said that, if you do pick up a cracking hand, then turn up your aggression and play that hand strongly, but don’t overplay it and if it is not playing the way you had hoped, don’t be afraid to let the hand go.

Don’t be tempted to raise too much before the flop, if you have top pocket cards. Doing this may lead to other players folding leading to a small pot. Play your hand in order to make the best from it, build up the pot ready to take it all.

Keep a check on your position, as always, and don’t play weak hands in early position. Keep to the basics and play them solid and it will reward you. Save your more advanced tactics until the later rounds and the final table.

However, aggression can be used strategically if the situation demands it, such as when you have a good hand in early position and you want to push it. Don’t be afraid of raising early on and if the flop improves an already strong hand, then play it to the end and pick up the pot.

Don’t forget that as you progress through the game the blinds will get bigger, so don’t get caught out with a small chip stack. The bigger you can get your chips to grow the better your position will be in later rounds.

THE FINAL TABLE

There is not a lot to add at this stage and there shouldn’t be too many changes to your strategy for the final table.

The same strategies that you used to play Sit & Go’s will be useful here, so use those and you won’t go too wrong.

Above all enjoy yourself and don’t get worried if you get kicked out or your game takes a tumble. As long as you haven’t bet your house, kids and dog, it will all build on your experience for the next tournament.

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