Pots vs. Stacks: 4 Major Ways Limit and No-Limit Hold'em Differ
Those players had to quickly adapt to the faster pace of NL and the stark changes in strategy.
Fast forward to 2016 and now a majority of players know NL Hold’em but want to become proficient in mixed games, especially Limit Hold’em.
Others may find times where Limit Hold’em is the only game of choice in a live casino setting. As such it is important that you become familiar with the differences between the two games.
1. Pots vs. Stacks
When playing No-Limit Hold’em your primary goal is to take your opponent’s stack. You are trying to win as much money possible.
In Limit Hold’em, your objective is to win pots and to maximize value whenever possible.
This shift in mentality will impact how you play. Since betting in Limit Hold’em is fixed, you will be limited on how much you can win per hand.
That means when you do win, you have to get as much value as you can.
In NL Hold’em, the opportunity to double-up can present itself at any time. If you were to win just one or two pots in a couple of hours, you may be in good shape if they were huge pots or if you doubled up.
However, in Limit Hold’em, only winning a couple of pots in an hour’s time will usually lead into a losing evening unless something changes.
You have to be more selective in Limit Hold’em over NL Hold’em due to this fact. Playing a few too many hands in NL may not ruin your evening if you get into the right situations.
Playing too many hands in Limit Hold’em will usually result in a losing night unless you’re very lucky.
2. Cheaper to Chase Draws
If you watch Limit Hold’em games, you will see a lot more drawing than in NL Hold’em
That’s because it's much cheaper to draw at your hand. In many cases you may only have to pay half of a big bet to see the turn and maybe an additional big bet to see the river.
You’ll often say it is near impossible to push someone off a draw in Limit Hold’em, and that's true.
Remember, in Limit Hold’em the big bet is double the big blind. In a $2-$4 Limit Game, that would be $2 on the flop and $4 on the turn to chase the straight.
For multi-player pots, you will often have the odds to chase a straight or flush to the river. You can't say the same in NL because players can price you out of pots at any point.
3. Suckouts and Bad Beats Are Not the End of Your Day
One major advantage to Limit vs. NL Hold’em is that a bad suckout doesn’t have to cost you your entire stack.
If you sit down with a $100 buy-in in a $1-$2 NL game, and end up on the wrong end of a set-over-set confrontation, you’re going to lose $100.
The money is getting into the middle and you are just going to bemoan your bad luck. In a $2-$4 Limit game, the same bad beat is going to cost you $48 max.
That’s assuming pre-flop betting is capped ($8 to you), flop betting is capped ($8 again) and both the turn and river are capped ($32 total).
That’s a good chunk of your stack gone, but your day is far from over. You have enough chips to make a comeback.
4. Smaller Scores But Consistent Winners Win More
Finally, the biggest difference between Limit and NL Hold’em is the amount of money you can potentially win in an evening.
In an NL game, a great night might be a win of 5 buy-ins or more. At $100 a buy-in, that’s $500.
For Limit Hold’em, a big win is 30 to 50 big bets. For $2-$4 Limit, that would be $120 to $200.
While the potential to win is higher in NL, so are the swings. Strong Limit Hold’em players may not win as much per session, but they don’t have the massive losing sessions that accompany NL.
As a result a Limit Hold’em player may win more over the long term versus an NL player of similar stakes.
As you have noticed, playing Limit Hold’em takes a bit of a different mentality and a level of patience that some NL players will refuse to adhere to.
That’s ok! The players with the patience to play the game will be the ones still in the game when the NL players are heading back to the ATM – for the third time tonight.