The Eight Important Winning Skills of No-Limit Hold'em

There are some basic principles of no-limit hold'em which is very important in winning strategy. If you understand all these principles properly before you begin playing no-limit hold'em, many of your strategy decisions will fall into place automatically. The following principles should always be kept in mind while playing no-limit hold'em which will prove beneficial to you and you will accelerate from beginner to winner at much more rapid speed.

You Need a Stronger Hand to Call With than You Need to Bet With

When you are the first player to act in the pot and come in for a raise, you put your rivals to the trial. If your rivals are astute, they realize that they need a stronger hand to call with than you need to bet with. However, if a rival moves in on you, you must have a hand in order to justify calling. Although he doesn't need to have a hand to raise, you need to have a hand to call his raise.

When somebody moves in, decide how strong you think his hand might be. If you think that your rival is out of line, you might call with a somewhat weaker hand. For example, you have an AQ. You might consider calling if you think the raiser is trying to put a move on you. He may go All-in, for example, because he is short-stacked and wants to try to improve his chip position by knocking you out of the pot.

When you are so short on chips that you have fallen into the "All-in stack" range on your betting chart, you are likely to take a risk by raising with a hand such as middle suited connectors - but big enough raise to get your rivals to prescribe their poker hands. This is why we say that when you are first to act, you can raise even with weaker hand than you can call with. As the first bettor in the pot, you put your rivals to the trial but when a rival is the first one in the pot, he then put you on the trial.

You Don't Play as Many Drawing Hands

In no-limit hold'em you will find too expensive to put all your chips with only a drawing hand, whereas in limit hold'em, you can draw far more cheaply. You will win more no-limit hold'em pots before the flop and on the flop than you do in limit hold'em. This happens because drawing to a hand in limit hold'em will cost you only given number of bets, whereas taking a draw in no-limit hold'em can cost you your entire stack. Also, with few players in most no-limit hold'em pots, the odds are unfavorable enough to warrant taking the draw.

You Don't Need to Win a Lot of Pots

In limit hold'em, you have to win number of hands to be successful, but in no-limit hold'em you will have to win certain premium hands. This is true because the pots that you win in no-limit hold'em are often much bigger than they are in limit games. Either your entire stack or your rival's entire stack can go into the pot during a hand. And when the money goes in, you want to have the best hand.

Your Style of Play Affects Your Chances of Winning

In no-limit hold'em, typically tight play doesn't cut it. It will, however, allow you to survive longer. Suppose you get to the final free or four tables and they All have you out-chipped three or four to one so that you are forced to play a trivial hand. What have you achieved? In other words, very tight play doesn't allow you to win poker tournaments because you don't get enough best hands, or you don't get enough action on your good hands, to contribute enough chips to be competitive late in the tournament. You need to use various style of play to be successful in tournament.

We recommend adopting solid-aggressive style of play in no-limit hold'em. You don't want to play a whole lot of hands, but when you do play a hand you want to be aggressive unless you are trying to trap a rival by just calling during the early betting rounds.

Getting to Know Your Rivals is absolutely important

You should be very observant in watching the other players, looking for different mannerisms and looking the hands they turn up at the showdown. Your main aim is to get free information from them. We shall later discuss some ways that you can recognize your rivals betting pattern and unique behavior so that you can play correctly against them.

The Button Is the Position of Superiority

The button, the player that holds the dealer's seat and is the last to act, is the position of power in no-limit hold'em. You need to learn how to use that power to bully you rivals and win some pots "without a hand" (with marginal hands) and especially after the blinds have increased.

When you are last player to bet, you are able to observe you rivals and thus, make a more rational decision. For example, you flop the nut hand. On every betting round the other players must act before you do. Depending on the actions, you can choose the correct way to get the most money out of your hand.

Some people think that whenever a raise comes from the player on the button, the button always has a weak hand. If a rival believes that you are trying to steal the pot with the marginal poker hand, he is likely to re-raise you. You have to identify which players have that state of mind so that you can use it to your advantage. For example, when you catch pocket aces or another high pair on the button, you can raise knowing that your rivals are possibly going to re-raise. His re-raise allows you to get maximum value from your good hand.

The Bluff - an Important Tool

In limit-hold'em bluffing can put you into a trouble because you are usually going to get called. This is true in low-limit games in which the pots are multi-way. Your limit hold'em rivals are correct in calling at the river, even if they suspect they may be beaten, because it costs only one additional bet to buy the chance of winning a pot that is giving them the correct pot odds. The bluff plays an important role and is an important tool which you can use to shut out a rival who may have a better hand than yours. In Part Six we shall explain when and how to bluff. In Part Nine, you will find bluffing practice hands.

Don't Disappoint When You Get Behind

In no-limit hold'em, it is much easier to "catch up" when you become short-chipped than it is in limit poker hold'em. If someone has two or three times your chips, one thing for you to do is to go All-in with him on one hand and you will double up. You will be even or have more chips than your rival. When a player has exactly a three-to-one advantage over you in chips, you are only two hands away from breaking him. You have to look at the entire stack as though it's one bet. That's why you don't push the panic button if you get out-chipped by the rivals.

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