No Limit Hold'em - Strategy

No-limit Hold'em is game where a combination of ALL strategies is useful - tactical, mathematical, psychological, etc. We'll start here with ‘general’ strategy. When you enter a no-limit ring game, you need to know certain things before you can really expect to roll in it:

1. Who are my opponents?

2. What # of hands go to a showdown?

Who are my opponents?

People can generally be divided into 4 types of players:

I. tight-passive, II. tight-aggressive, III. loose-passive, and IV. loose-aggressive.

First word = number of hands the person usually plays

Second word = the player's betting style.

For no-limit Hold'em, loose-aggressive can also be divided into two parts: action-seekers and solid players. Below is an outline of each of the types we’ve mentioned.

Tight-passives

These players do ok in a limit game, but they won't do as well in a no-limit game. The only way these people can win is when they pick off bluffs; otherwise they won't get the value out of their hands that they should. When you’re up against these players: Bluff at the flop frequently. Drop a raise pre-flop and bet at the flop no matter what calls.

Fold when they represent a hand. If they bet a little, they're most likely on a draw. So stick with your hand if you've got something. If they bet a lot, you know they've got something good.

Exhibit Control!. Don't go nuts with your bluffs though. Fold pre-flop when you have nothing, but raise when you have a good hand and go for the jugular at the flop! If you miss the kill, give up. But when you have something, use it for everything it's worth.

Essentially, you can quickly 'silence' these players into calling/folding stations and nobody should be making money against you if this is where they’re at! You’ll run into a lot of these folks.

Loose-passives

These players rely people continually bluffing into them because they will frequently call with the second-best hand. This is a recipe for disaster at no-limit. Not very present at no-limit games because these bad players lose so quickly - sad but true

Maniac loose-aggressive

These guys will buy a good amount of pots but then will get themselves trapped by another aggressive player and will lose their stacks in one or two hands. These players, unlike good loose-aggressives, lack discipline - they can’t resist the action of no-limit.

Strong loose-aggressive

These guys seem like they are horrible maniacs, but actually, they’re very dangerous. These guys will certainly lose a lot of money in pots, but they will also buy a lot of pots and win some huge ones. They win by mainly getting a good read on their opponents and then making a well-timed bet.

The best tactic against these players is to trap them in their own game - avoid having the pot rise too much pre-flop unless you have aces or kings and try not to let them buy every pot. Put differently, when you put in the raise pre-flop, you should make a stab at the pot in the flop stage of the game. More importantly, the way you can beat these guys is to take them out on one big pot. Since they tend to play a lot of hands, especially short-handed, they'll often play hands succumb playing second-best hands. Once you can get them in this situation, all you have to do make sure you don't let escape.

Tight-aggressive

this is the category which describes most of the Internet's better poker players and probably the style and the strategy that’s best to emulate. The tight-aggressive's main problems are that they may get chased out of a lot of flops early and can be too easily read.

Showdown percentage

A vital concept to grasp in no-limit since the game lends itself to bluffing; one can make a lot of money simply by stealing pots. But don’t forget, this strategy obviously fails if everyone shows you down to the river!

Ordinarily, before playing in a high-stakes game (or starting to get really into one) we suggest you pay attention to the # of hands going to showdowns. This, of course, is very easy to do online because you can just leave the window open and come back 20 minutes later to see what kind of a game you're about to get into.

Types of hands to play

The types of hands to play in no-limit poker are different from those in limit mainly because of implied odds. Hands like K-Q off suit go down in value because they cannot take much pressure. Even if you hit a king with this type of hand, you still may be losing to a set, two pair, A-K, or even to a draw. So, with big cards, you generally want to take down the pot at the flop.

The exception to this is if you think that you may have someone out-kicked (say A-K vs. K-J with a king on the board), or if you hit the flop hard (like K-K-3 when you hold A-K). In these cases, you generally want to extract money from your opponent bit-by-bit.

The types of hands that go up in value or the ones that you can bet with confidence include pocket pairs and suited connectors (strong draws in general). Pocket pairs do well because they are sneaky and can often stand up to pressure. With pocket pairs, you can bet hard if you have a set or an "overpair," which are hands that people generally don't expect.

Suited connectors go up in value for a couple of reasons.

1), if the flop comes weird, you generally will be paid off. For example, if you hold 7-6, you'll get paid off a lot more if the flop is A-7-6 (against an A-K combo) than you would with an A-K, if the flop were A-7-2.

2) You can take down pots and disguise your hand with semi-bluffing. If you hold 7-6 and the flop comes 4-5-J, people will probably put you on a jack, if you bet. Then they'll either fold or call. Thus, you'll either take down the pot at the flop or you'll be drawing to a hand that people don't expect. If the next two cards are 8 and ace, and your opponent holds an A-J hand, you can count on a huge reward.

How much to bet

Many novice no-limit players just don't know how much to bet. Well, it’s actually easy to determine: you want to extract as much money as possible from people who have "made" hands but are probably losing to you and you want to punish draws, but at the same time you don't want to be trap yourself. Check out the examples for a better illustration:

Suppose you have 9-9 and the flop is A-8-9. You are pretty certain he doesn't have 10-J. You want to put in about pot-sized bets here. BECAUSE: He either has a straight draw or pair of aces. If he has a straight, you don't want him to draw on the cheap, and if he has pair of aces, he probably won't let go of them, so take as much as you can.

You hold K-Q of spades and the flop is A-9-5. The ace and 5 are of spades. Bet into this flop. Don't bet too much-just enough to make people fold if they don't have an ace, but also enough to make an A-Q just freeze up and call. A 1/3-sized pot bet would be good here. This way you draw relatively cheaply and you can punish if you hit your flush.

Bluffing

This relates back to the showdown percentage because a greater number of showdowns means bluffing doesn’t work as well. If you're in a game with a high number of showdowns (typical of lower limits), cut back on bluffing and punish your opponents when you have the boss hand.