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Beginner Betting Secrets: Fixed-Limit
Ever since the 2003 poker explosion, Fixed-Limit poker has taken a back seat to action-heavy and TV-friendly No-Limit.
Even though Limit poker's not as popular as it once was, it's still very much a force in the poker world. All poker variations can be played with a Limit betting structure, whereas not all games work well played as No-Limit.
General popularity aside, Limit poker is the ideal betting structure for beginners to become acquainted with poker.
Limit is more based on math and logic than psychology, allowing players with less experience to play a more solid game from the get-go.
The most notable advantage of Limit for beginner players is the dramatically decreased rate of loss. It's simply not possible to lose your chips as quickly in a Limit game as you can in No-Limit.
In No-Limit, your mistakes are amplified, without a concurrent boost to your results, especially if you're a beginner.
Limit allows for a more consistent, gradual learning curve, and provides players with the ability to see and play far more hands of poker with a significantly lowered amount of risk.
Every Bet Counts
The first thing you need to understand about betting in a Fixed-Limit game is that every bet, even if it may seem insignificant, counts.
There's a lot more to be said on this, but rather than rewriting advice available elsewhere, click through to this article which goes into the subject in depth:
The Odds Are in Your Favor
The absolute worst pot odds you will ever be offered (post-flop) in a Limit game will be 2-1 on your money, and getting only 2-1 is only possible in a very specific scenario.
More often than not a player will receive 3-1 or better at any given point. The reason for this is simple:
In a $2/$4 Limit game the big blind is $2. Let's say all players fold to the small blind, who limps. The big blind checks and we go to the flop ($4 in the pot).
The small blind bets out on the flop ($2). This gives the big blind 3-1 odds to call ($6-$2).
A player will receive 2-1 odds only if both players would have checked on the flop. In this scenario, with the small blind betting out on the turn ($4), the big blind is now looking at paying $4 for a pot of $8, or 2-1 odds.
As soon as you have more players in the hand, the odds increase. 3-1 and the rare 2-1 are the absolute worst odds you can ever get in a Limit game.
Since a hand such as a flush or an open-ended straight draw is in the neighborhood of 2-1 to complete (from the flop to the river), you literally always have the odds to draw to your hands on the flop.
If you went to the flop heads-up, and still only have your 8- or 9-out draw, on the turn you will no longer be getting correct odds to chase if your opponent bets. Even though you'll still be getting 3-1 on your money, your odds of hitting your draw have dropped to as low as 6-1.
If you have a third player in the hand, on the turn you'll be offered 4-1 or even 5-1 odds if that third player calls before you in the hand.
For a flush draw, 5-1 odds mean you'll just about break even. If you can occasionally pick up a bet on the river, you'll make some money in the long run.
The key concepts you should take away here are that every bet counts in Limit, and that your opponents will almost always have the odds to draw to hands.
Unlike in No-Limit, where you can make a point of trying to win every hand you play, as a Limit player you must accept the fact that many pots will be won and lost to draws - both legitimate and backdoor.
To be a winning Limit player, therefore, you must make sure that you always have the correct odds when you choose to draw, and that you charge your opponents the maximum to draw against you.
Minimize your losses, maximize your wins, and laugh your way to the bank in the long run.
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