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No Limit Hold'em:
Finding Your Game:
Poker Strategy - Longhand Limit Texas Hold'em Strategy
This section will give you the basic strategy at winning at longhand limit Hold'em (8 or more players). This section is intended for the beginner, so he or she can win at the lower limits ($2-4 or less).
Preflop Starting Hands:
This is where most beginners make mistakes. Simply, they play too many hands. What beginners fail to recognize is that longhand limit Hold'em is a game of patience. As sad as it sounds, you literally can just wait to be dealt the quality hands, and just win with those.
So what are the good hands? David Sklansky, the poker expert, groups hands into 8 categories. I'm going to simplify his method a little bit for you. The main difference between my ratings and his ratings is that I don't give preference to suited cards. The only reason I do this is because beginners tend to play suited cards too much. Being suited is nice, but it's just a bonus, it doesn't change the actual value of the cards that much.
AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AK
These are the best hands, bar none. You should raise or reraise with them preflop. If you hold AA, you especially want to jam as much money into the pot as possible.
TT, 99, AQ, KQ
These are good hands, but they aren't amazing. You generally need help from the board. Almost always in low-limit, you will need to hit a set with TT or 99 to win.
88, AJ, AT, KJ, QJ, JT, QT
These are good hands. However, be careful playing AJ, AT, KJ as these hands are vulnerable to losing to a higher kicker (i.e. if an Ace is on the board, but someone else has AK, you would lose because he has a higher 'kicker').
Ax suited (x means any small card), Kx suited (x should be 7 or higher preferably) 77, 66, T9, 98, 87, 76 (only play the connecting cards if they are suited and you can play hands with a one card gap, like T8, as well)
These hands are okay, but generally don't win. They need a lot of help from the board.
Small pocket pairs (55, 44, 33, 22)
Category I hands should almost always be played. The only exception is if you hold AK or say JJ and you are positive that someone has AA or KK by the way they are raising (in other words, the person is a very tight player but is acting like a maniac preflop). These hands in general should be raised from any position and you want to get a lot of money in preflop. However, remember, for AK you need to hit an Ace or a King. So do not get in a raising war with one person because that person likely has a pocket pair already.
Category II hands should generally be played. These hands do best with less people, so you should raise to knock people out. Do not jam the pot though (i.e. reraise) because these hands have little value before you see the board. Do not call 3 bets cold with these hands (if you raise, then someone reraises, call, but do not call if someone raised, then reraised, and then it's your turn.) The reason you do not call 3 bets cold is because you clearly do not have an advantage going into the flop. The one thing to remember in Limit Hold'em is you want to have an advantage going into the flop. Go ahead and call one raise in late position, unless the raiser was in early position and is a very good player (he probably has you beat with a category I hand).
- Category III: Treat these hands with caution. They are often dominated by category I or II hands. Basically, with the exception of 88, these hands are vulnerable because they are generally high cards but their kickers are somewhat low.
You should play these hands more often when they are suited and/or you are in late position. When they are suited, they have a higher chance of winning, especially among a multi-way pot. When you are in later position, you will have a better idea where you stand among other players. If there has been heavy action before you, you should consider folding because someone might have a hand that dominates yours. However, if everyone has folded to you or there is just a limper or two, a raise is probably in order.
- Category IV/V: these hands are very different. You want a large, multi-way pot. The reason being is that these hands miss the flop most often. However, sometimes these hands are amazing (i.e. if you hit a straight, flush, or trips). Therefore, you want to be paid of big when you actually hit something with these hands, which is why you want a lot of people in the pot.
You call a bet on flop, 9 comes on turn, and then you jam the pot. You want to commit as few chips preflop with these hands as possible while hoping that many people go into the flop. If you are the dealer, and one guy is in with a raise, fold. However, if you are the big blind, and 5 people have called a raise, go ahead and call and see the flop.
Once you hit the flop, you will be in one of four situations:
1. You are winning but have a beatable hand. For example, you have top pair, top kicker or an overpair (e.g., you hold Q Q and the board is J 10 5). You want to jam the pot and knock people out. Thus, you want someone to bet to you and then to raise if you are in early position. If you are in late position and no one has bet, you must bet to knock people out.
2. You have a boss hand. You have three-of-a-kind or maybe even a full house on the flop. There is no reason to knock people out, because you will probably win (unless you have trips and there's a flush draw out there; then you need to make them pay). In these situations, it's generally best to wait until the turn to really jam the pot, but jam the pot on the flop if you think a scary draw is out there that will beat you.
3. You have the second-best hand. If you follow my preflop strategy, this is unlikely, but it could happen. Example: you hold A Q and the flop comes K Q 4. In this case, treat the hand as a drawing hand or simply fold, unless you really believe that you may have the best hand at the moment (this is unlikely in a larger, multi-way pot because someone is bound to have a King).
4. You have a drawing hand. Example: you have two spades in the hole and there are two on the board. For these hands, you must use outs and pot odds. There is a detailed explanation of this in the shorthand article under 'Flop Tips.'
5. You have nothing. Example: you hold 6 6 and flop is A K 7. You clearly are beat, just fold at the first bet.
This is the basic way to win at longhand limit. There really aren't that many tricky situations you will encounter. Just remember, the more people that are in the pot, the higher the likelihood that someone has the boss hand that is out there on the board, so be careful of that. Don't get attached to AK if AQQ is on the board because someone probably has the Queen.