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No Limit Hold'em Tips

10 Simple Rules for No Limit Hold'em
by © Patricia R. Moynihan

No Limit Hold'Em is the Rolls Royce of all card games. Drive this game with talent and skill and your life will be transformed. Drive it badly and youíll sink without trace or, worse, be mired in frustration and fury! Not to mention you'll be penniless!

You'll find No Limit in every casino in the world at levels ranging from $1-$2 to $1M-$2M. Of course, since the advent of TV poker, you'll find it in most home games too. If you want to win at No Limit, fasten your seat belt and obey the simple rules below:

1. Find your level. When No Limit became the face of Las Vegas poker, thousands of aficionados went broke very fast. This, of course, caused poker rooms to lose players and so adversely affected the drop. Well, we can't have that! So, many casinos limited the buy-in. Some made the maximum buy-in to $100 with re-buys the same. Other casinos have a $500 limit and some have unlimited dollar amounts. Thatís fitting. This is No Limit Hold ĎEm, after all. Decide what you're going to risk.

2. Bring three times your buy-in. If you're playing $1-$2, your buy-in is $100. If you lose $300, go home. We all find this very difficult. The game is good. You don't want to leave, even if you're losing; especially if you're losing. Just remember, a good game is like a bus; another one will come along.

3. Play happy. If you're miserable about something, or furious, or sick, don't play. Too dangerous. You know how this works. You're not at your best. You sit in a game and straightaway you get stuck in a pot and some donkey outdraws you. Now you start to splash around and before you know it, you're broke. Of course, you know you can beat these idiots, so you get up to go to the ATM. Don't do it. Go home. I can't tell you how many times I didn't go home in this situation. And it never had a happy ending.

4. Patience is key. Once again, you have to be in the right frame of mind. I'm not going to give you figures and statistics. Buy any serious poker book for these. I am going to tell you that really good hands are few and far between and, in No Limit, you absolutely must wait for them. Of course, if you're on a stone cold bluff, thatís a whole other thing.

5. Position, position, position! If you're under the gun, you absolutely must have a premium hand to play. Throw away all medium cards. 9,10 or 10,J suited are very attractive to many players. Why? If you hit your flush, you bet or raise right up to the river and then you lose. If itís a straight, itís so vulnerable to over cards. So wait till your cards can stand alone and then do the firing yourself. Let everybody else try to catch up.

6. Middle position is easy. Don't limp in hoping that no one will raise. If your hand is that weak, get out. If your hand is A,K suited down to A,J or a pair from JJ up, raise. The usual raise in this situation is three times the big blind. You'll know from the texture of the game whether your raise should be this level or higher. I'm always worried about JJ. Too vulnerable. My raise in this position is not made to build the pot. Itís big and itís made to narrow the field. Try it both ways.

7. Button is best. If you have limpers, attack the pot. Hopefully, you'll wake up with a decent hand. But limpers allow you to steal the blinds, so go ahead. Of course, if you find a good hand and thereís a raise to you, start a war. I had a horrible experience recently. I had KK on the button and, very cleverly, called a raise to suck in the blinds. In they came. When the dust settled, the small blind won the pot with 4,5 of suit. Flopped two pair. The flop came 4,5,Q rainbow. I had tripled my buy-in, so I don't like to think about the clever play that wiped me out.

8. Small blind play is pure formula. Don't call just because you've already invested in the pot. That money is no longer yours. You find 9,10 clubs and you're half in already. Throw them away. If you limp in and the big blind raises three times the blind, you think ďWell thatís not too bad. Iíll come in and see if I can catch my straight, my pairs, whateverď. Lo and behold the flop brings 10, 5, 2 rainbow. Oh great, you have top pair. That has to be worth a medium bet, say $20. Thereís a raise and a re-raise. You know thatís A,10, K,10 or better. You fold having lost your bet plus blind in a pot you should never have entered.

9. Big blind position can get you lots of chips. If you're weak, you hope they'll fold or limp. If there are one or two limpers, consider their prior play. A limp opens the door for a raise so if they're straightforward players, put in a raise. You can win the pot right there. But this supposes you've been concentrating and remember past play. Thatís key. Be alert. Watch everything. You pick up a lot of pots this way.

10. Slow play a monster. Once in a while, you're going to flop a monster. You MUST bring as many players as possible into the pot. Don't raise. Don't even bet. Get them in and raise the turn, just a medium raise. Let everybody go to war and sweep up when the dust settles. We missed the jackpot in my local casino because our resident donkey bet quads on the flop. The straight flush draw folded. It was horrible.

Remember, play up your good hands and FOLD the feeble. No Limit Hold ĎEm is a ramminí jamminí game. You just pick your spots. Wait for the hand and go to war.

Now GoGetEm!

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