Longhand Limit Texas Hold'em

Longhand poker is a variation of the game involving more than 6 players. Here are some handy hints to help your technique in longhand limit Texas Hold'em. We would like to remind you, however, that our tips are aimed more towards tactics at lower limit tables.

Pre-flop / Starting hands

This is a dangerous stage of the game where players often make mistakes. The danger is of playing too many hands. Players who are starting out often don’t realize that longhand limit Hold'em is a game requiring patience. It’s okay to just wait until you’re dealt better quality hands and win with these.

Poker expert and author on poker strategies, David Sklansky, perceives there to be 8 categories of hands. We recommend Mr. Sklansky's first-rate books to very advanced players or those intending to reach a very high level who want a more wide-ranging guide to strategies. But to keep it simple, we’ve narrowed this down to five categories by not separating the suited cards.

1st category: A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, A-K
As you probably already know, these are the best hands. Pre-flop, you should raise or re-raise if you’re holding these cards. Especially if you’re lucky enough to be holding A-A, get as much money in the pot as possible!

2nd category: T-T, 9-9, A-Q, Q-K
There are good, but not the best, hands. You’ll probably have to look for the board to help you win with these. In low-limit poker, you'll usually need to hit a set with T-T or 9-9 to be able to win.

3rd category: A-J, A-T, K-J, Q-J, 10-J
These are pretty good hands too. But, take care when playing A-J, A-T and K-J because these hands can still lose to a higher “kicker”, such as when an ace on the board, but another player has A-K, he/she will win due to the higher kicker. It’s advisable to only play these hands when/if they’re suited.

4th category: 8-8, 7-7, 6-6, 10-9, 9-8, 8-7, 7-6 (play connecting cards only when they’re suited)
Not too bad, but these hands won’t usually win. Look to the board for help.

5th category: 5-5, 4-4, 3-3, 2-2 (essentially, small pocket pairs)


1st category hands should nearly always be played. The one exception to this is if you’re holding something like A-K or J-J and you’re sure that an opponent is holding K-K or A-A – you should be able to tell from the way they’re raising. A category 1 hand should usually be raised, you should aim to make a lot of money at the pre-flop stage. Keep in mind however; for A-K you need to hit a king or an ace. It’s best not to start a raising battle with another player, because he/she is likely to be holding a pocket pair.

2nd category hands should also usually be played. These hands do best when there are fewer players, so aim to raise to knock other players out. But, don’t throw too much into the pot too soon, wait until you’ve seen the board. It’s unwise to call 3 bets cold with these category 2 hands. It’s best not to call three bets cold because you will not have the lead going into the flop. This is the main thing to remember in Limit Hold’em: Your aim is to have an advantage going into the flop! Why not try calling one raise in a late position, unless the player who raised was in an early position and is a very skillful player – in this case, he/she may hold a category 1 hand to beat you with.

Go careful with 3rd category hands, as categories 1 and 2 can easily beat you. A 3rd category hand is best played with fewer players in the pot who are not holding category 1 or 2 hands. Aim to raise to knock other players out, but don't call a raise with a hand of this category.

4th and 5th category hands are completely different: Here you want a large, multi-way pot. These hands occasionally have the potential to be great – maybe 5% of the time, if you can make a straight, flush, or trips. Therefore, if you can really hit something with one of these hands, you want lots of players in the pot to get a big pay out. Here’s a simple example:

You’re holding 6-7, the board has A-5-8, you call a bet on the flop, 9 comes on the turn and so then you jam the pot. With category 4 and 5 hands, you should aim to commit the fewest chips possible pre-flop and hope that a lot of your opponents go into the flop. Then if you’re the dealer, and another player is in with a raise, you should fold. However, if you’re the big blind, and five other players have called a raise, you should call and see the flop.

Hitting the flop

You’ll encounter 5 situations in flop play:

  • You’re winning but your hand is beatable. Eg. You’ve got a top pair, a top kicker, for instance, or an over-pair (such as Q-Q with J-T-5 on the board). You should aim to jam the pot and knock other players out. So, ideally, someone will bet to you and then you should raise if you are in early position. However, if you’re in late position and no one else has bet, you’ll have to bet to knock people out
  • You’ve got a top hand, such as 3 of a kind or possibly even a full house at the flop. You’re likely to win, so there’s no need to knock other players out. A good strategy might be to wait until the turn to jam the pot or jam the pot on the flop if you think a crazy draw that could beat you is around.
  • You've got the second-best hand. It could happen, but is less likely if you’ve followed our pre-flop strategy. For example, you’ve got A-Q and K-Q-4 is on the board. If this happens, treat the hand as a drawing hand or just fold, unless that is you strongly have reason to believe that you may be holding the top hand at the moment (but note that this is unlikely in a big, multi-way pot because someone is sure to have the king).
  • You’ve got a drawing hand, eg. two spades in the hole with two on the board. For these hands, you should check the outs/pot odds.
  • You’ve got nothing. You’re already beaten, so should fold as quickly as possible. Eg.You have 6-6 and flop is A-K-7.

Limit longhand isn’t all that tricky. These are the basic ways you wan win. But remember, the more players are involved, the more likely it is that one of your opponents has the boss hand that's out there on the board. For example, don't rely on A-K if A-Q-Q is on the board, because an opponent is likely to have the queen.