Guide to Playing Limit Poker

Limit poker, also known as “fixed-limit poker”, is a variation of the popular card game where the betting is in set units, as opposed to the “any amount at any time” nature of no limit games.

This can apply to cash games as well as tournaments but the most popular option is Limit Texas Hold'em ring games, with nine seats at a table. The defining feature is that players can only bet a specific amount at a time, depending on the phase of the hand.

For example, at a $1/$2 limit hold'em table players can bet/raise in $1 units preflop and on the flop, and in $2 units on the turn and river. These are called “small bets” and “big bets”. Between them, players can raise multiple times on the same street but this too is limited: most poker rooms will only allow four bets/raises per round.


Limit Poker vs. No-Limit Poker

There are more differences than these when it comes to limit and no limit poker. Choosing between the two mostly comes down to personal preferences but if you are new to the game, which should you go for?

Many would suggest limit poker as being better for newcomers. This is largely because, as long as you play at a responsible level, the limited bets will help you avoid going bust. You can also develop your understanding of concepts like implied odds more easily when the bets are fixed, as you don't have to worry about the perfect bet size in each situation.

On the other hand, no limit hold’em is much more widely played, has more learning resources readily available to help you develop a poker strategy, and is likely to attract more other beginners to enable you to develop among opponents of a similar skill level. Furthermore, the margins for error in limit poker are generally less forgiving than no limit.

Main advantages of limit poker

  • Bets are limited in size and number, which should help new players avoid going bust

  • With fixed bets you don't have to worry about bet sizing

  • Many calculations involving odds are simpler when applied to fixed-unit bets

Selecting the Right Table to Join

Online poker rooms can provide a huge variety of tables and when it comes to limit poker, selecting the perfect level is crucial. Since the pots are smaller than in no limit poker, relative to the big blind, players can join tables where the buy-in represents a bigger chunk of their available poker bankroll.

You also need to determine if you want to play against only one player, known as “Heads Up”, or join a ring table with multiple opponents. Different online poker strategies are required, depending on how many players you’re facing.

In limit poker each bet carries significant importance, which leads us to the core concept of successful limit poker: making the correct decision as often as you can.

Make Every Bet Count

The room for error is much smaller in limit poker than in no limit varieties. The bets might be limited but this doesn't mean that you can just shrug off a bad move. In fact, for every bet you lose you will have to win two in order to earn a profit.

It’s important to keep in mind that the bets are not equal every step of the way. In limit Texas Hold'em, the “small bets” wagered in the first two betting rounds are half those of the “big bets” used in the latter two rounds. A re-raise during the later rounds can therefore be costly.

The win rate is generally smaller in limit poker than in no limit, so each bet is more valuable. Players need to be vigilant in order to protect the lower profit margins, with many considering limit poker a harder game as a result.


Conclusion: Consistency is Key

Limit poker is not the place to make complicated or flashy moves, throwing bets in the pot on a hunch. It is all about calculated risks and consistency over longer sessions that can pay off nicely if everything goes well.

Even the smallest advantage is important, so your choice of poker starting hands is crucial. Beyond the cards you’re dealt, your position at the table is arguably even more important. Even against just a single opponent in heads-up limit poker, it’s beneficial to act last.

For a full ring table, too, the amount of poker hands you can play increases as you get closer to late position. A good hand must have great value beyond the flop in limit poker, since the bets will double later in the hand. It is recommended to be willing to go all the way when placing the first bet, but at the same time don’t be afraid to fold if you realize you don’t have the best of it.

Improve your game by checking out even more poker strategies and guides or bring it back to basics with the poker rules for other poker variants.