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Why Play Pot Limit
Comparing Pot-Limit
Poker's Ten
You Playing Style
How Deep Are You
Taking The Initiative
Drawing Hand's
Reading The Opponent
The Art of Bluffing
Betting The Bully
No Limit Play
All In Coups


Using The Material
Pot-Limit & No-Limit
Big-Bet Hold'em Q/A
Big-Bet Hold'em Q/A 5-10
Big-Bet Hold'em Q/A 11-20
Pot-Limit Omaha
Pot-Limit Omaha Q/A
Seven-Card Stud
Lowball Draw
Key Pot-Limit
London Lowball Q/A
High Low Split
High Low Split Q/A
Strip Deck Poker


“How Deep The Money Is Determines Your Play”

Pot-limit and no-limit and hold’em are so closely related-both are what we call “big-bet poker” –that the strategies we talk about in this chapter apply to both forms unless specifically stated otherwise. The only difference in rules between the two betting structures is no-limit allows you to overbet the pot size. 


              No-limit hold’em has been called by two-time World Champion Doyle Brunson “The Cadillac of poker games.” The grand finale event at most poker tournaments is played at this demanding game. It calls for aggressiveness, patience, and skill at reading the opponent. The same can be said for pot-limit hold’em.

              Most people are familiar with limit hold’em. Let’s compare limit poker with big-bet poker and see how it affects our starting hands. At limit play, turning a super-class hand like a set will win you an extra couple of bets. At big-bet the upside is far greater. You can double through the opponent, winning a pot from two to twelve times the size of an average pot, perhaps even greater. Hands that can win a big pot are worth more.
              A pair of aces is a fine hand at any form of hold’em, but they are even nicer at big-bet. However, it must be emphasized that their most important function is to get all-in before the flop against K-K, Q-Q, A-K, and any other hand that an opponent may play strongly at this point. Since it is easier to get all-in at no-limit than flop, unimproved aces seem to bust the holder as often a the enemy, so there you should tread carefully with only one pair.
               Actually, any pair is more valuable at big-bet poker than at limit play, because a concealed set is the classic hand for doubling up. Of course, you need to start with a pair to make a concealed set. Once you flop a set, it is a very hard to turn loose. Even though set over set is rare, it is so expensive to be on the lower end that small pairs are a double-edged proposition. I recommend playing deuces through fives only in late position and upraised pots.
              The nut flush is a fine hand for the purpose of getting doubled up. There is something about a flush that makes the cards stick to your hand, and many a player has lost his stack by getting married to a non-nut flush. Therefore, a suited ace is a better hand at big-bet poker than limit play. Even so, it still usually needs an accompanying big card to participate in a raised pot.
               Keep in mind that although hands like 7-7 or a suited ace are worth more at big-bet poker, the entry price to a raised pot is many times greater than at limit play. Since these hands need improvement to contend after the flop, and you are an underdog to help, avoid being overcharged to see the flop. We discuss this later.


If pairs and suited aces are worth more at no-limit, something has got to be worth less. That something is big unsuited cards. Hands with an affsuit A-K, A-Q, and K-Q are used at limit play for making top pair with a good poker kicker. That hand is okay at big-bet poker for winning a small pot-or losing a big one. Since getting doubled up is what we aim for, these hands are dangerous. Don’t back top pair with all your money unless forced to by a very high ante structure.  

                Another place big-bet differs from limit is the importance of position. At limit play, good position lets you trap someone for an extra bet of steal a small pot. At big-bet, good position is a trap someone for his whole stack or steal a large pot. Position is a far more important factor when the money is deep in relation to the blinds and ante structure. For example, suppose each player has a grand in chips. Position assumes more importance with blinds of grand of $5- $5- $10 than blinds of $50- $50-$100. The former situation lets you use a positional advantage on each betting round, instead of simply deciding whether to go all-in before the flop.
               When people talk about “position,” they usually are referring to the privilege of acting later or last on a betting round; in other words, being on or near the button. There is another form of position that has great importance at big-bet hold’em. That is having good poker position is relation in relation to the raiser.


At hold’em, a raising-quality hand is often good enough to bet the flop without improving. Here hold’em differs markedly from Omaha. Even if the hand is not actually that strong, the raiser often bets the flop anyway, judging by the preflop betting action that the opposition may be weak. If an ace of king comes, the raiser bets to portray A-K (which he may well have). If the board comes with small, unrelated cards, he bets to portray an overpair (which he also may well have). At any rate, the preflop aggressor normally will bet after the flop well over half the time. You, the caller, want to have the best possible position to take advantage of this.
               It is obvious that in multihanded pots you want the raier betting through the field of players into you. Therefore, the best placement is to be on the button (or have last action) when someone has raised under the gun or in the blind position. This is obvious. What may not be so obvious is that if is someone raises in late position or on the button and others call, you want to be on the raiser’s right. This way, if everyone checks to him, his bet will put the others in the middle, and you will have the commanding position. If the others check the flop and you decide to bet a marginal poker hand or a bluff, there is the additional leverage against the raiser of the other players who checked, and the raiser will seldom get involved without solid values


             Note that if you are on the button and the raiser is on your immediate right, your position is actually shaky. If the raiser bets the flop, the bet puts you in the middle. If someone has checked a strong had expecting the raiser to bet, they bag you as well. Sometimes the raiser checks the flop, but this is not as helpful with the raiser on your right, as anybody could have checked a bushwhacker expecting the raiser to bet. Note the huge difference from when the raiser has early position and is first to act and checks, and the others also check. In a threeway or fourway pot, this situation is so favorable for a steal lit is tempting to fire with any holding. The raiser nearly always has missed the flop and decided not to bluff. The others, knowing this, still do not care to bet, so they are unlikely to have even a modest hand. You will only get called or raided it someone is slowplaying a monster, or there is a “policeman” or “calling station” in the game. 


This is a good time to discuss how to play against a habitual caller. They come in two basic types. The first type is liable to call off his entire stack when you continue firing at him. The way to play against him is simply to wait for a good hand and milk him. The second type is the guy who assumes you are weak unless you fire a second barrel at him. He will call you on the flop (or on fourth street if the flop was checked and you now bet) just to see if you have anything, or to hit some longshot draw. It is important to fire that second barrel to brush this sort of sand flea off you.
             Back when I lived in Dallas and was my bread and butter, a poker-playing friend asked me what I thought was the strongest part of my game. My reply was, “Knowing when to fire that second barrel.” The best advice I can give an aspiring big-bet hold’em player is to get to know his opponent’s betting habits, and how they like to handle the many different situations where someone bets into them, they call, and the opponent bets again. The winner must be able to distinguish between a perpetual caller and a look-up artist. Brush off those sand fleas!
             There is a situation where I am reluctant to fire a second barrel. If I raise the pot, an ace (or king) comes, and I bet, this “announces” A-K. When someone calls me, assuming there is no flush-draw on board, either he does not believe I have A-K, or he can beat it. Either way, another bet by me is a huge favorite to get called. I feel a player foolish enough to call a preflop raise with a weak-kicker ace and then call again when the raier bets the flop is likely to continue calling. So once you diagram A-K by raising preflop and betting the flop, it is better to cut your losses and abandon ship if you are bluffing and someone is still fighting.

              When there is a flush-draw on the board, and you bet on the flop and bet called, you have (against most players) undertaken a commitment. If the flush is not completed on Fourth Street, it is necessary to fire again. If you are bluffing, follow through; it you have a marginal hand, fire and hope for the best; if you have a good hand, by all means protect it. The only things that would stop me from betting would be: (1) I have been called by a perpetual caller (2) I want to check-raise a bully who will try to take the pot away from me if I blink (3) The chip position of my opponent is unsatisfactory; is nearly all-in opponent will surely call.
                      Let’s talk about stack size, since it is vital to big-bet poker. The most important principle of exploiting stack size is “The threat is stronger than its execution.” Not only does big-bet poker allow you to make a large bet; it also allows you to seriously threaten all an opponent’s chips by the prospect of continued betting.
              Suppose you and I are playing in a $5-$10-$25 blind game, and I have position on you. There is an unraised pot with a flop of 10-7-3 with no flush-draw. You bet a hundred dollars, and I raise you two hundred more. Let’s us look at the magnitude of decision you have, depending on the amount of money in front of you. (We will assume here that I have an equal amount or greater, so all your money is in play.) 

If you only have started with $300, the decision will be quite simple. There is only the $200 raise to think about. You have to assume that I probably have top pair or better, as a 9-8 is the only drawing hand an opponent might hold. With an A-10 or better, the call is automatic. With a hand such as K-10, Q-10 or J-10, for only a couple hundred backs you will likely shut your eyes, put the money in, and pray. A lesser holding you will probably fold. It is not a difficult decision, not a lot of money is riding on it, equity between folding and calling. (By “equity” I mean the average amount the hand figures to be worth if the situation came up repeatedly.)

  1. Suppose you have started the deal with $1,000. Now I have given you the added option of reraising all-in for $700 more, in addition to calling or folding. Also, if you decide to just call, what will you do on Fourth Street? Since to only the raise and then check on the new card shows a certain amount of weakness, there is a good possibility I’ll put you all-in on the next betting round. When the opponent has raised with money left to bet rather than all-in, the chance he has a big hand is greatly magnified. Obviously, my raise has forced you to think about a lot more than just the amount needed to call. All your chips have been threatened, because they may all need to go into the pot to see the hand through.
  2. For out last scenario, let us assume your stack at the start of the hand was much more than $1,000. How big would it need to be so my $200 raise did not threaten it? If you call on the flop, there will be roughly $700 in the pot. A pot-size bet on each of the last two rounds ($700 on Fourth Street and $2,100 on fifth street) means the hand would cost about three grand in total. This assumes no raises, and only normal-size bets.

As you can see, my $200 bet has achieved an influence totally out or proportion to its size. The fact is any wager at big-bet poker gets an opponent thinking about how much it is going to cost him to see a hand through. The winning style of play is to use your wager as a threat to cost the opponent a lot of money, while not putting that much actually at risk yourself. The thought of any player facing a raise and caught without a big hand is usually, “Why get involved? I could get busted.” This is what is meant when big-bet poker is called a game of intimidation.
                     Aggressiveness, bluffing, and bullying are key parts of a winning poker strategy. Once you are in combat, you need these tools to fight at full strength. But let me emphasize that even though you may have the ability to slug your way out of some tough corners, this is no reason to initially be in a corner. Get a good starting hand before doing battle. If that hand turns sour later on, only then do you try to fight for the pot anyway.
                     I think the biggest mistake many players make is to get involved without adequate values when an opponent raised the pot. Raises are supposed to be made on a hand such as A-Q, A-K, or a pair of nines through aces. Quite often, a raiser will not have this good a hand, but more than half the time he will. If your hand isn’t this strong, you do belong in the pot unless you are in position. Observing this simple standard will save you a lot of money. Let’s look at a few simple situations and see whether you should get involved. Let’s us assume the game is a $5-$10-$25 blind pot-limit or no-limit game.

I. You hold A - J under the gun. You call the quarter, and the player on your immediate left make it $100. Everyone else folds. What do you do?
Answer: Fold. Your opponent has shown a good hand by raising a player who called in early position. His hand is superior to yours, and he has position on you. Someone who thinks is a good place to call is using poor reasoning for a big-bet game. A faulty saying that could get you involved is, “You only get a certain number of good hands, so you’ve got to play them.” This line of thought puts hands on a rigid scale of values. The correct thinking for any form of poker should be difining a good poker hand simply as one that figures to be the best on that deal. The betting has clearly shown your A - J to flunk this test. Another lie that could cause trouble here is, “The pot odds favor a call.” Those players who are primarily limit players get involved on far too many hands by chasing “pot odds.” The key to big-bet play is to look at implied odds, what stands to be won or lost over and above the amount in the pot. We have already discussed how a player has to constantly think about his whole stack when there is a bet or raise. Your must also think about it in deciding whether to call a raise before the flop. The right question to ask is, “If I call, who is more likely to get broke, him or me?” Any player who thinks he can take an A-J suited out-of-position and have the best of it against a raiser is a heck of a lot better player than I am- if he’s right. 

 ∏. You hold 9-8 on the button. Three other players call a quarter, and so do you. The big blind, a solid player, raises $150 more, and two of the three players in front of you call. What should you do?
Answer: It depends on how deep the money is. Your position is the best possible, but you don’t have much of a hand. A good rule to follow is the “Five and ten rule.” When contemplating calling a raise because your position is good, you have a clear call if the amount is less than five percent of your stack, and a clear fold if it is more than ten percent. In between those numbers, use your judgment. Keep in mind that the raiser is your most likely target, so make sure he has plenty of money to be won, as well as watching your own ammunition supply. To get sufficient benefit out of good position, deep money is essential. 
Ш. You hold 8-8 in the small blind. Several players call a quarter, and you call. The big blind raises $125 more, and two players call. What should you do?
Answer: Once again, it depends on how deep the money is. You should apply the rule of five and ten. Your position is fine for miss. The raiser will likely bet, putting the field in the middle. If you flop a set, you’re well-placed to reap a good payoff. If the flop should be checked by all, the pot is yours for the taking any time a blank hits on fourth street. As your opponents see it, you are the player most likely to have checked a strong hand on the flop. Remember this important principle of big-bet hold’em: a drawing hand needs good position throughout the deal; a set needs good position only on the flop. Of course, being in position throughout the deal with help any hand, but a set can survive without it. Therefore, play connectors in a raised pot only back position. Play an intermediate pair in most situations if the price is right in proportion to your stack.

ΙV. You hold A-A on the button. A player opens for $100 in early position and the field folds around to you. Do you play your hand straightforwardly and raise or try to trap your opponent with a call?
Answer: Contrary to what you may have read or been told, slowplaying a big pair can be a lucrative play at either pot-limit or no-limit hold’em. You have the nuts. It is essential that a big-bet poker player varies how he plays the nuts.
           I believe slowplaying A-A or K-K before the flop is a fully acceptable play if three criteria are met: (a) You are heads-up (2) you have position on the opponent (3) the chip position is favorable for slowplaying a big pair. The first two criteria have been met in our problem. (Only the blinds are to be heard from.) What about the chips? What you want is the raiser to bet the flop, you raise him all-in, and he calls. If the money is shallow, it would be better to move all-in before the flop. If the money is deep, where you cannot move in on him at either pot-limit or no-limit without overbetting the pot, then he is often going to fold when he gets raised. If he does call a big bet you may well be beaten. We want to get him in a situation where his call after the flop will seem nearly automatic.


The layout described in the problem has $240 in the pot before the flop if the blinds fold. The perfect amount of money remaining would be around $700, which would be a $200 bet and a $500 raise. This is about three times the size of the pot. As a rule of thumb, slowly a big pair before the flop only when the amount of money in play for your opponent is two to four times the pot size.
                  Remember that slowplaying a big pair against a raiser depends on him betting the flop. If you are up against a Timid Tim who probably wouldn’t bet the flop heads-up unless he helps his hand, slowplaying will not work properly. All you would be doing is giving him a free shot to beat you. Use slowplaying only against reasonably aggressive players.
              Let’s talk a bit more on how you play the nuts. As mentioned before, it is necessary at big-bet poker to very your play with big hands. An important element is chip position. Even if you are by both bankroll and temperament the kind of player who simply buys enough chips to cover all bets, you can’t bet more than the opponent has in play. It is vital at big-bet poker that you be aware of the amount of money in front of each opponent. (This is why we prefer games that require all cash be converted to chips.)
               Suppose you flop a set in a heads-up pot. Should you lead with it or check-raise? If the stack size allow you to move the opponent all-in by a check-raise without overbetting the pot, this is the better course of action. You win a bet from him when he is weak and couldn’t call a bet from you, and he is likely to go with your check-raises, if he has a decent hand like top pair. When the money is deeper, your best chance of doubling up is to bet the flop. If he raises, this may commit him to the pot for your reraise. If he calls, he may continue to call on fourth and fifth street, whereas the power play of a check-raise might have made him fold.

              A lot of big-bet players have the bad habit of checking whenever they make a big hand. This works out badly for several reasons. First, it makes things too easy for an opponent to read you and thus do the right thing. Second, it creates a place in the betting where the opponent knows you have a big hand and has a chance to release his own hand and get away with a minor injury. If you simply keep charging the pot with bets on each street, there is no spot where he can be sure you are loaded for bear. Third, betting right out a good bit of the time with big hands gives more credibility to the many occasions where you will be betting and hopping the opponent will fold. Lastly, and perhaps most important, a check-raising style shows you are thinking about the game in the wrong way. Your goal in a no-limit game is to win all you opponent’s money, not take little pecks. At hold’em, it is not easy to flop a hand big enough that you are hoping to back it with your whole stack. When you are fortunate enough to do so, think positively. Big hands are meant to play big pots. Train your sights on the opponent’s entire stack. Play the hand the best way to get doubled up. It is faulty thinking to say to yourself, “I have three jacks, so I ‘am going to make sure I win a little something with them.” With a big hand, aim at a big goal; doubling up. Remember that you are going to judge the session’s success simply by how much money you won, not by the number of moderate-size pots you won. 
                     Winning massive pots your goal in a big-bet game. To be on the right side of these big swings you must choose your starting hands carefully, especially in raised pots. A good bit of the time, such a major confrontation will be between a big made hand and a big drawing hand, where anything can happen. But fairly often, the confrontation will be between two made hands. In such a matchup, the better hand has a huge advantage in a community-card game. You want to be on the right side of such situations.


When you look at both hand in a made-hand vs. made-hand all-in situation, the owner of the weaker hand will often moan, “I had to play.” Much of the time this will be true. In other words, if a top player had held the weaker hand at the point the big money went into the pot, he would also have played and gotten broke. But quite often, the top player would not have been in before the flop. The way to avoid such traps is to not get involved in the first place! “What you sow is what you reap” applies especially well to hold’em. Solid play before the flop, particularly in raised pots. Will keep you on the right side of these trap situations most of the time.
              We mentioned the possibility of getting all-in with a drawing hand. Let’s talk some more about this. At hold’em a made hand will usually be a favorite against a drawing hand. Nevertheless, to play the game in the best way, you mustn’t be afraid of backing the right kind of draw with all your money. If you almost always have a big made when you bet strongly, the opponents will pick up on this and play accordingly. You will not get played with often enough on your big hands. 
                       There is another reason to play a quality drawing hand strongly on the flop. Normally, a draw will be a solid contender for the pot only when there are two cards to come. A big draw at hold’em (as opposed to Omaha) will nearly always involve hitting a flush as one of the avenues for improvement. Of course, anyone can see when the fourth street card makes a possible flush. If you get only a portion of your stack into the pot on the flop, there is the strong possibility your opponent will make the correct play on fourth street. If you make your flush, he’ll dump his hand. If you miss, he will charge you a very steep price to continue to draw at the last card. We’ll talk more about this a little later.
                Another reason to gun it out on the flop is that when a flush card hits, you may not know for sure where you stand. Suppose the flop is 10-7-5.With a top pair and flush-draw combination such as J-10, o a straight-and-flush draw such as 9-8, it is often better to move in on the flop instead of playing guessing games on fourth  street. Besides, the opponent may well throw his hand away when you make a massive raise. Just be sure you make the same kind of big raise with this type of board when you have a set, instead of a modest-size amount begging for a call.

                       Just to keep your opponents off-balance, it is a good idea once in a while to smooth-call an opponent’s bet on the flop- or even check and call- although there is a draw on the board. The bets time to do this is with a flush is with a flush-draw out there and no straight-draw, such as K♣-8-♣--3♥.In such circumstances it is better to be slow-playing top set, or at least middle set, so if an opponent with a pocket pair hits trips on fourth street, it breaks him instead of you. We emphasize this play of slowplaying a set should not be done very often. Five or ten percent of the time is enough.
                        We have been talking about moving all-in with a drawing hand. Do you ever move in with no hand at all? Very rarely. It is always nice to have an escape hatch; a way to get lucky if the opponent calls. Here is an illustration. Suppose on the flop you move all-in $2,000 more on a $2,000 pot, have nothing, and get called. Your equity is zero. Now suppose that you have only the longshot of a belly straight draw. With two cards to come, you will make the straight about one time in six. This means your equity in the $6,000 pot is about a grand. You risked two grand when you bet, and wound up losing only half of it when you got called. This is a big improvement over zero equity. If you would have had as much as an open-end straight draw, your amount of risk would have been nothing, because you will win about a third of the time. Your equity would be $2,000, the amount you bet. This is why it pays to have outs when you move all-in.  
                  Most people are aware of the need for outs when moving all-in a big-bet game, but a lot of them extend the principle to situations where it is not an all-in bet. They refuse to make a bet or raise unless they have outs. Let’s us see why this is faulty thinking.
                     Suppose you start a no-limit deal with $1,500. An opponent bets a hundred, and you raise three hundred more. With hand number one, you have nothing. With hand number two, you have a straight draw. In both cases, the opponent plays back, moving you in for $1, 00 more. Are you better off with outs? The answer is no. With hand number one, you fold and lose $400. With hand number two, you could either fold and the same $400 or you could call, and figure to lose slightly more than $400 on the average. (Your equity would be around a grand, and the hand costs parlay of events where the opponent calls your $300 raise and then you make your hand.

                          Here is another situation. Suppose there is a pair on the board. Now a straight or flush draw is very much a double-edged sword. Do you wait for outs before bluffing a bet when the board is paired? If there is a pair on board and no straight or flush draw, would you refuse to ever bluff at the pot? For a flop like J-J-3 all offsuit, you will grow old waiting for a hand with outs so you can feel comfortable in launching a bluff. So make sure you have outs before moving in on someone with cards to come. But don’t be afraid to sometimes make a bet or raise without any outs, if there is still money left to be bet. This can be a tool for seeming to threaten your opponent’s entire stack without risking all of your own
                  The main difference between pot-limit play and no-limit play is no-limit affords the possibility of getting all-in any time you want, whereas pot-limit does not. The desire to be all-in comes up most often on the flop betting round. For the big draw, there are two cards to come, which puts the hand in reasonable contention to win the pot against a made hand. If all the money goes in on the flop, the draw expects to be in reasonable shape. The draw does not want to get a quarter to half his stack in the pots, miss his hand on the fourth street card, and be set all-in. At hold’em, unless it is some kind of freak hand, the player’s money is going to have to go in when he is a substantial underdog. And abandoning a big pot that might have been won is not a pleasant alternative to calling. Keep in mind that a big draw in hold’em is always going to include a flush-draw (something that is not necessarily true at Omaha), so the opponent is going to be aware of whether the drawing hand has likely connected or not, and act accordingly. 

                          Here is an example of how a player facing a possible draw is going to behave. My co-author Stewart at pot-limit pocked up A-K, raised preflop, and got called in several places. The flop came K-10-7. Stewart bet, an opponent raised, and the others folded. Stewart called the raise. (I probably would not have called in the type of situation, but Stew had played a lot of poker with this man, and was at the table to get information such as mood and mannerisms.) There was enough money left after the flop betting round for one full pot-size bet. The fourth street card was the 2. Now Stewart pounced and moved in with his stack. Despite the possibility that the opponent had a mad4e hand –which in this case would be very likely better than Stew’s- this all-in bet is superior to checking and allowing a drawing hand a free chance to beat you. It is vastly better than checking and then lamely calling an all-in bet. The point to calling on the flop was to take advantage of this type of situation where a drawing hand did not connect. Stewart’s opponent called the fourth street all-in bet, evidently on a draw, but did not help his hand on the last card, and lost a big pot.
                      On this deal the made have was greatly helped by catching a blank on fourth street, as any card six or higher would have created a potential straight on the board. A player out of position, as here, could easily have had a lot of nasty guesswork. If Stew would have had position, he could have seen his opponent’s reaction to a possible straight or flush, and thus been more likely to do the right thing in that event. The player with a draw is at a big disadvantage out of position on fourth street. 
                     Particularly at pot-limit hold’em, this use of position with a made hand to set the opponent all-in on fourth street when he blinks is an important tool. Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and do this on a modest holding, one that is likely beaten if you have been tricked by a strong made hand, but you cannot just blink back and let the money sit there, vulnerable to a drawout or hijacking. Most of the time an opponent who checks here is either drawing or on a shaky holding. After all, you may be drawing for all he knows, and most opponents with a strong made hand in this spot will move in, thinking, “The pot is big enough for me,” instead of trapping.
                     The no-limit player with a big draw avoids this pot-limit dilemma by moving in with all his chips on the flop when there is already a large pot. Naturally, a player who moves all-in on the flop could easily have a made hand as well. The point is whenever you have a through ticket  for all your money, it is undesirable to get caught out of position on fourth street on a big pot with money still left to bet.
                     Let us look at a typical hold’em betting situation and contrast how it would be handled in a pot-limit game as compared to a no-limit game. There are four players that see the flop. You are first and hold Q-J. The flop comes 10-9-3, a pleasant sight , giving you a straight-flush draw with two overcards. You want to make a play for the pot and are willing to back your hand with your entire stack if need be. Let us assume there is a hundred dollars in the pot and each player has a grand in front of him.


The game plan of the no-limit player might well be to check this hand and go for a check-raise. If someone bets the size of the pot, he can raise the person all-in. He would be calling the $100 (making the pot now $300) and raising $900 more all-in. (The no-limit player could adopt this same game plan if he had flopped a concealed set; moving in doesn’t necessarily show a draw.)
                       I do not like going for a check-raise in this spot if the game is pot-limit instead of no-limit. If an opponent called your check-raise, this would create a $900 pot with $900 left to bet, and you would be out of position on the critical betting round. The opponent may well be able to set you all-in if you miss your draw and get away from his hand if you connect. It is the superior play to simply bet the flop. If the opponent calls, you have flexibility in how to handle the fourth street betting, because there is only $300 in the pot. Your drawing hand will have the handy leverage pf money left to bet on the end if there is a bet and call on fourth street, increasing your equity in the pot. It the opponent chooses to raise you on the flop, you come back over the top and set him all-in. His position would now be worthless and you would have two cards to come if he called, giving you a fine chance to make your draw.
                      We know that drawing hands are much better if we have position on the hand. These examples of distress for a drawing hand or fourth street when being unable to get all-in on the flop show that at pot-limit play the suffering for positional inferiority is even greater than at no-limit. Keep this fact in mind for preflop hand selection and take special care to avoid building an out-or-position drawing hand at pot-limit.

                    A situation where you might use the no-limit structure’s opportunity or getting all-in any time you want is with a preflop raise. If a pot-size raise would be such a large hunk of your stack that you are committed to go all the way with your hand (about forty percent of your stack on the initial raise) it is better to simply open the pot by going all-in. This forces an opponent who calls to make the same commitment to the pot as you. This scenario comes up much more often in tournament play than money game.
                    No-limit play differs from pot-limit play by allowing you to overbet the amount in the pot. We have seen that the main way to take advantage of this is to move all-in at the appropriate moment. There are some other situations aside from all-in betting when you may want to overbet the pot size. The first one is up front in a blind when making a preflop raise. To have the opposition fold is a good result, and if an opponent wishes to play out a pot with position on us he should be made to pay substantially for the privilege. A typical up-front raise to overbet the pot by around fifty percent, and to raise an amount twice the pot size is not that uncommon.
                  The second use is when you want to diagram a specific holding that seems improbable, such as completing a backdoor flush on the end. The overbet leaves no doubt as to what is implied, and would be used whether bluffing or not. 
                   The third use is to give the opponent a bad price on a draw. When the board is cluttered on fourth street with a lot of possible straight-draws and maybe a double flush-draw, it is unpleasant for the made hand on the last card. An all-in bet may be too large a commitment, but it may be right to try and remove the opponent by an overbet. Keep in mind that the drawing hand has a lot of leverage because of the potential bet on the end, increasing his implied odds.

                  The fourth use is for psychological reasons. An overbet is not necessarily a sign of strength. More often, it is a sign that the bettor is worried about something and does not want to be called. Sometimes, an overbet will make the opponent think you are bluffing. The macho-man falls for this ploy easily; the tightwad does not. Know your opponent.            
                   In reading this chapter on no-limit and pot-limit poker hold’em, the thing that should impress you the most is the enormous number of weapons a good player has working for him to achieve an advantage. The point is a good player’s overlay at pot-limit and no-limit is much greater than at limit play because he has far more tools available. Although the fluctuation on a given hand may be greater, the longterm swings usually turn out to bet less.


Tournament Strategy
Shorthanded Play


Poker History
Pot-Limit Rules
Dealing Big-Bit Poker
The House Charge
Ethics & Courtesy
Internet Poker


implied-odds-probability-poker.htmlFiguring The Odd's
Percentage Table

Odd's For Hold'em
Special Odd's Table
High-Low or Better