Originally Posted by curly
Forgive me if this thread has been covered before, but a friend of mine has always preached to me that you must be a good limit hold-em player before you can tackle No Limit. This goes for both cash games and tournaments according to him.
Is there any truth to this and if so were would one start off playing Limit Holdém?
Your friend isn't completely wrong here. It is easier to transition from fixed limit to no limit than the other way around. However, having said that, not every limit player, even excellent limit players, are going to be able to do so successfully.
The core philosophies of the two games are quite different. What you want for fixed limit are hands that have "sticking power" since limit pots frequently go multi-way to the river. That means big OESDs, NFDs, trips and big two pair hands. That means big cards most of the time since it's more difficult to play your opponents off their hands.
In no limit, you're looking to build a made hand with which to get the money in good. Get the stacks in, and pray that the turn or river doesn't bring any nasty surprises. If that happens, and your opponent sucks out, you just have to accept that and know that at least he called with a worse hand than yours. Shoving your stack to the center only to find out you were second best is a disaster.
In limit, you can make mistakes, have leaky play, and still come out winners if your errors are less frequent and/or less severe than those of your opponents. There will be times when a limit player will play no differently from the worst donk in the game since he's getting odds
to chase. What separates winners from losers is that the good limit players play like donks when the odds justify it, and donks play that way all the time.
When stacks are at stake, you need to be right almost every time at no limit, since a mistake doesn't just cost you a fraction of a bet in expectation: it can cost you your entire stack. One critical goof, and several hours' worth of work can go "poof!" How and what you play is also dependent on the stack sizes, seldom a consideration at fixed limit. You'd prefer to play a hand like TPTK as a short stack or against a shortie. With the short stack, you can double up. Against a short stack, you can either make him reload, or free up his seat for a more well heeled fish. It's not the type of hand you'd want to play deep against a deep stack. When deep, you'd like to see a slowdown as cheaply as possible. If your Big Slick makes a pair of kings or aces, you'd play that slowly (not slow play) when deep. In limit, if it doesn't stand up, it costs you a few bets. At no limit, it can cost you your whole stack, or a good bit of it. "Pot control" -- checking hands that look good enough to bet, making small bets to prevent bigger ones, minraising to freeze the action -- this doesn't figure in limit, but is essential for no limit play.
This is where no limit players make the biggest mistakes when playing limit. They're used to assessing whether they have the best hand or not. In limit play, this costs since it's often worth it to call even if you're certain
your opponent has a better hand, due to the odds you're getting. It's also necessary to call on the end most of the time, since being wrong even occasionally will cost you. The ill-advised call costs maybe a fraction of a bet in mathematical expectation, but an incorrect lay-down costs a great many bets. This goes against the grain of no limit play.
Position is also more critical in no limit play. In limit, you don't mind leading off into a line of players because you know what it'll cost you if there's a raise behind you. You don't have that luxury in no limit. Lead off from an up front position, and you could get raised out of your seat. You'd rather take that chance after you've seen what everyone else has already done. From late positions, you can play your opponents off marginal hands. Sometimes, you'd like to be up front in a limit game: lead off, get raised behind you, then reraise when it gets back to you. That's seldom the case in no limit where you can play for stacks on a later street, as opposed to gathering as many fixed bets as you can with your good hands. Hands you'd play in a limit game become auto-muck no limit hands when you don't have position. In no limit, you undervalue position at your peril.