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10 Simple Rules for Limit Hold'em

10 Simple Rules for Limit Hold'em
by © Patricia R. Moynihan of

Limit HoldíEm is not sexy. It totally lacks the excitement of No Limit but it is played in every casino in the world and in many home games. So you need to be, if not expert, then very competent if you want to make money at Limit Hold ĎEm. The great news is that you canít lose your whole stack in one hand! You can fritter it away, of course. Thatís why you need to stick to a few very specific rules. Here they are:

1. Pick your game. If you see a table where many, or even some of the players are grim- faced, move on. Do not sit down. Youíre looking for a game where the players are smiling, enjoying the experience of playing in a casino. You are absolutely NOT looking for a table where experts are trying to take your money. And there are experts at all levels, even $2-$4, believe it or not!

2. Pick your comfort zone. You need $100 to play in a $4-$8 game. If youíre not used to playing in a public casino, start at the $2-$4 level. Itís beneath you, of course. But it will allow you to get comfortable, shoot the breeze and throw a little money around.

3. Pick your image. Do you know that itís easier to smile than to frown? So, be pleasant. Be polite. Give your opponents the respect you want them to give you.

4. Play only hands that can stand alone. You know how you always love 5,7 off suit because you backed into a huge pot with that hand? Well that was sheer luck. Play those cards and you'll wind up panhandling on Fremont Street. Don't even think of playing 5,7! You need either a pair or Ace high card to enter the pot.

5. I can hear you now. But what about A,2 suited? Well, if you're in the blinds or on the button and itís an un-raised pot, OK. Play them. If your suit doesn't come, muck them. You have to be ruthless with yourself. I mean, you came to play, right? That A,2 clubs looks very promising. Itís not promising. Itís a quagmire. The flop comes A,9.7 off suit. Oh great! You flopped an Ace! Who says itís dumb to play A,2? Wow, you have top pair! Right, you have top pair and NO kicker. Any other Ace out there beats you flat and you're going to call all the way only to lose on the river. Thatís how you burn off chips.

6. So, what are your starting hands? Optimum hand, of course, is AA, but in Limit Hold ĎEm, even AA is vulnerable. You need to be aggressive. Many people slow play AA. Thatís really not a good idea. You limp in and you let some donkey catch a straight or two pair. If you pick up AA in middle position, raise. If youíre re-raised, raise back. Get rid of the straight and flush draws. Get it down to three people or, preferably, two. You know where you are then. Youíre up against a hand you have dominated. Keep firing. Pocket Kings or Queens will pay you off.


7. In early position, you need to be extra careful. High cards only. You can limp in with a medium pair, but if thereís a raise, get out. I canít stress this enough; you need stand alone cards. Stand alone cards can win the pot even if they donít improve. Thatís where a medium pair may be sufficient or where the Ace triumphs. 9,10 doesnít cut it, however attractive that hand may be to you.

8. In the small blind, you can play medium cards, provided thereís no raise. If the big blind raises, donít be tempted to limp in. And you will be tempted. Itís only one more bet. But itís not! You hit one of your cards. You call a bet, then thereís a raise and you have to fold anyway. Fold from the get go. It makes life simpler, if youíre strict about starting hands.

9. The best possible position is the button. You have full information. If you pick up a big pair or A,K/Q, raise. If thereís a raise before it gets to you, re-raise if you have a big pair. With A,K, call and make your move on the flop.

10. The most vulnerable position is under the gun (First person to act in a hand, left of the big blind). Be very careful. Throw away everything but prime hands. No exceptions.

These rules take a little getting used to. But implement them and you will see your win rate improve exponentially! And when you play well, you get a great charge!

Now, GoGetEm!

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