Real Money No Limit Hold’em Strategy
The most popular form of real money poker in the world today is no limit hold’em. With the potential for your entire stack to end up in the pot on any hand, no limit hold’em is exhilarating and tension-filled. It’s also a very difficult game, where strong players have a huge advantage over weak ones, meaning that beginners often face a steep learning curve. However, with a few basic tips, you can quickly get up to speed and start winning in real money no limit games in no time.
Must as we recommend on our real money limit hold’em strategy page, we’re going to recommend a tight, aggressive strategy for no limit players as well. Unlike in limit hold’em, the higher implied odds in no limit can make even weaker hands profitable. However, this is only the case for strong no limit players, who can afford to play loosely preflop because they expect to make up for the weakness of their hands with superior post-flop play. However, most beginners and intermediate players will only get themselves in deep trouble by playing too many weak hands before the flop, and should stick to a relatively tight starting hand strategy.
Even at lower limits, bluffing and semi-bluffing are much more effective tactics in real money no limit poker than in limit hold’em. While many weak players are willing to call an extra bet in limit to see if they’ve won a hand, they’re a lot less likely to risk their whole stack without a very strong hand. However, this will vary from player to player, so you’ll need to adjust accordingly. Making good reads is a very important skill for a real money no limit player; if you know whether a player is tight and passive or wild and aggressive, it will give you a lot more insight into what they’re likely holding, and how you should approach a hand.
Against tight players who fold too much and play passively, bluff aggressively on the flop; you may pick up a lot of pots this way, and when you don’t, you can feel confident that your opponent is holding a strong hand. You should also bet into loose and passive players a lot too, but only when you’re holding a hand with some value; you can expect these players to pay off with second best hands quite frequently, but since they rarely fold, it’s not worth bluffing into them.
Aggressive players are much tougher opponents, regardless of their precise style. We recommend a tight and aggressive strategy precisely because it’s relatively easy to play, yet difficult to deal with. Loose and aggressive players can also be quite dangerous if they know what they’re doing; it’s nearly impossible to know what they’re holding, and the constant pressure can lead to many mistakes from their opponents. On the other hand, some loose/aggressive players are simply maniacs that will spew chips with any two cards. In this case, you can trap the maniac with a strong hand, allowing them to bet into you and throw their stack away when you hold the nuts (or close to it).
Real Money No Limit Hold’em Starting Hand Guide
The nature of no limit hold’em requires a different starting hand strategy than in limit hold’em. In addition, you should not use this as a hard and fast guide; adjustments are necessary depending on your opponents in any given game.
In real money no limit hold’em, starting hands that have the potential to make straights and flushes go up in value, since a huge hand can mean winning a big pot; high cards without any other advantages go down in value, since they tend to only make pairs, which generally win small pots.
In most positions, we recommend that real money players play very tightly, entering the pot with a raise only with very strong hands such as pairs of 99 or higher, AKs-AJs, AK-AQ, and KQs. Generally, you should not be limping in with any hands if you’re the first person into the pot.
In late position, or if several players have already limped into the pot in front of you, you can now play a wide variety of hands. Suited connectors, pocket pairs, suited aces and any two suited cards of ten or higher are perfectly good hands to limp in with, thanks to the high implied odds they carry. These hands are also generally good if someone has raised and there has already been a call or two. If you’re the first person into the pot with late position, you can also raise with most of these hands in an attempt to steal the blinds, knowing that you’ll have a good hand postflop even if you do get called. When you’re in the blinds, feel free to limp in with the same kinds of hands you would in late position, but only raise with your early position hands – you’ll still be out of position after the flop.
As in all forms of poker, you should play tighter if someone has raised in front of you. Reraise only with the strongest hands, like pairs of TT or higher and AK or AQs, and after two raises, cut that list down to AA or KK (with QQ and AKs also being playable depending on the game).