Limit Texas Hold'em Strategy

Enjoy No-Limit Hold’em but don’t like the crazy swings? Fixed Limit Hold’em is a popular game for people who like the No-Limit Hold’em ruleset but want to avoid the stress of all-in decisions. It’s essentially No-Limit Hold’em but the betting is capped. You can’t just go all-in whenever you want.

Some players find the adjustment difficult  — while on the face of it, the distinction seems reasonably minor, it has a massive impact on the game and probabilities throughout each round.

Basic Limit Texas Hold'em Strategy

You should adjust your strategy when playing Limit poker of any kind to take account of these differences, which invariably shift the game to become more centrally about the cards you hold and the hands you can make. With these key differences in mind, here are a few strategies you need to adhere to, to get maximum value from your hands in Limit Hold’em.

Every Bet Is Important

Firstly, because there are betting limits in each round, every single bet you and others place is important to the overall pot. At the same time, you have the specter of limited betting information to deal with.

  • Avoiding Mistakes is Key: Because the stakes are capped, one bad bet means you need two winning bets to profit — something that is much less of an issue in the No Limit environment, where one big win can offset all of your previous losses.
  • Know When to Fold: This makes it all the more important to understand your game and to know when to bet and when to fold.
  • Less Margin for Error: Limit Hold’em is a game of much smaller margins, so it’s essential that you capitalize or conserve more strictly than might be the case in No-Limit games. There is less margin for error with each hand and less scope for recovery when you slide behind.
  • Drip, Drip, Drip: Losing in Limit Hold’em is generally death by a thousand paper cuts. You don’t lose it all at once. Instead, it’s a series of bad bets that eventually catch up with you.

Calculate The Best Hand

In Limit games, you need to constantly have an idea of the best hands available. From this position, you can start to assess whether any of those hands are at the table.

  • Risk Assessment by Participation: The more players left in the hand as it progresses, the higher the chances are that someone has the nuts or an equivalent strong hand.
  • Strong Hands Are Worth More: Understanding the probability of draws in No-Limit is much less important because you can make up ground on the betting side — but bluffing, muscling and other betting manipulations become significantly more difficult in Limit games, where strong hands are worth so much more.
  • Know the Possibilities: Look at the flop and the cards in your hand. Think about the best possible hand (also known as the nuts), and the number of draws available that would contribute to that hand.
  • Understand Your Chances of Winning: By knowing how many possible hands could beat your own, versus the number of players remaining in a hand, you can start to make more reasoned assessments of your chances come showdown. Especially when you are looking to minimize bad bets, this is a crucially important skill.

Be Very Selective In Early Position

When you’re out of position, you want to be incredibly selective of the cards you play. This puts you at an inherent disadvantage to other players at the table, particularly in limit games where you are subject to capped betting and all that entails.

  • Fold Often in Early Position: You don’t want to be moving forward on a 9/6 hand - it’s almost always worth folding these from an early position, and waiting for the game to move round until you act.
  • Lose the No-Limit Mindset: Limit Texas Hold’em really is a discipline apart from its No Limit counterpart. Players who switch versions often find the differences much more pronounced than they would realize.
  • Learn by Other People's Mistakes: Experienced Limit players can often find opportunities playing against players still thinking in a No-Limit mindset. Use caution in early position or you'll learn this lesson the hard way. 
  • Be More Selective When Betting Pre-Flop: Success comes from being more selective in the plays you make and on each bet, so you can stack the much more acceptable margins in your favor, while limiting your downside exposure to losing hands.

You Should Almost Always Call in the Big Blind

While you should be cautious when in early position in Limit Hold’em the opposite is true of being in the big blind.

  • Big Blind Betting: Because you’re protected from all-in shoves and it’s rare to see a large number of re-raises pre-flop you can call with a wide range of hands from the big blind.
  • Calling with Marginal Hands: That means you should consider calling with hands like K-2, J-8, Q-5 or any pair. There’s simply not much risk in calling and you could potentially win a huge pot if you manage to hit the flop hard.
  • Stealing the Blinds is Harder: Players with premium starting hands just won’t be able to push you off marginal hands as easily as they do in NLHE.

Avoid Bluffing Too Much

While bluffing can be done in Limit Hold’em it’s generally not a good idea to utilize the strategy as frequently as players do in No-Limit Hold’em.

  • Expect to See More Medium Hands Played: Without being able to truly put a player to the test — such as in No-Limit Hold’em — you’ll instead be limited to a capped bet. Plenty of players with medium hands make the call if it’s only for a couple of big blinds.
  • Selective Bluffing Still Works: Of course, every player knows that, so there will be some good opportunities to bluff because everyone will automatically assume you have a hand, but you should still tone down your overall number of bluffs.
  • Avoid Bluffing Too Much: Bluffing too frequently is one of the only ways to quickly dust off a stack in Limit Hold’em.

Fixed Limit Hold'em Strategy

Fixed limit Hold'em is a form of Texas Hold'em where the max bet is fixed according to the rules. In most versions of the game, players can't bet more than the amount of the big blind at any given time. Thus, 2/4 Limit Hold'em means the max bet during a hand is $4. Fixed Limit Hold'em is a game of patience and strategy, where players can't scare away opponents with all-in calls. 

Pot-Limit Hold'em Strategy

Pot-Limit Hold'em is a version of Texas Hold'em somewhere between Limit and No-Limit Hold'em. While the max bet is limited, it grows over the course of the hand. The bettor cannot bet more than the size of the pot.

This means the max bet is relatively small in the pre-flop and post-flop betting but can swell to larger sizes on the turn and river. This tends to favor players who have draws to a flush or straight, which requires a readjustment of strategy by Fixed Limit Hold'em players. 

Common Mistakes in Limit Texas Hold'em

Most card players start with No-Limit Texas Hold'em. When transitioning from a similar game, their intuition is wrong in many cases. Whether you're new to the game or you've been playing for a while, here are common mistakes that players make when playing Limit Texas Hold'em. 

  • Most new players play too many starting hands. 
  • Not paying attention to opponents. As the old saying goes: play your opponent, not your hand. 
  • Not folding with a medium-strength hand like middle pair or a top pair with weak kickers. These often are second best.
  • Many players don't raise premium hands. This allows opponents to draw a better hand.
  • One common mistake is to call too often with trap hands. 
  • Many players draw for cards that give them the second-best hand. 
  • Not being aggressive enough betting on the flop and the turn. 
  • Picking the wrong table limit. Players should have 300x the big bet if they want the proper bankroll.

Limit Texas Hold'em Starting Hand Cheat Sheet

The Limit Texas Hold'em strategy guides below divide starting hands into two groups: stronger hands and marginal hands. The first table includes hands that many players call Group A, Group B, and Group C starting hands. These include the premium hands, plus those hands that many consider premium (but aren't). 

To read the chart, R1 means that you raise when only one other player is in the pot. RR1 means you should re-raise only when one other player is in. "C2" means you should call if there are at least two callers in the pot. "C3" means you should call if there are at least three callers in the pot, while "C4" means you should call if at least four callers are in the pot. 

Limit Texas Hold'em Cheat Sheet: Premium/Medium Hands

AA-QQ Raise Re-Raise
AK Raise Re-Raise
JJ Raise Call, RR1, Lone Late
TT Raise RR1, Call
AQ Late Position: Raise If First In, If Not: Call C2
99 Late Position: Raise If First In, If Not: Call C2
AJ Late Position: Raise If First In, If Not: Call C2
KQ Late Position: Raise If First In, If Not: Call C2

The second table lists Group D starting hands, which are often considered marginal hands. In a handful of cases (88, 77, QJ), you'll want to raise the pot if you're in late position and no one else has raised it. This helps you steal the pot when no one else is showing strength. Otherwise, players should call -- and only call when enough other players have called that it makes it worth the risk to win a bigger pot. 

Limit Texas Hold'em Cheat Sheet: Marginal Hands

88 Late Position: Raise If First In, If Not: C3 C4
77 Late Position: Raise If First In, If Not: C3 C4
66 to 22 C3 C4
AX's C3 C4
KJ C3 C4
K10 C3 Fold
QJ Late Position: Raise If First In, If Not: C2 C4
Q10 C3 Fold
J10 C3 C4
10-9 C3 C4
98 C3 C4
87 C4 C4
76 C4 C4

As you can see, with the marginal hands at the bottom of the second Limit Texas Hold'em cheat sheet, you won't be calling very often. The pot odds are worth the risk only if 3 or 4 players contribute to the pot. Otherwise, it's best to fold. This seems counter-intuititive to many beginners, because intuition would suggest your odds with a marginal hand are better with fewer opponents in the pot. 

Pocket Pairs Strategy Overview: Limit Texas Hold'em

Take a look at the chart below to see how strong different types of pocket pairs are. It shows the odds of pocket pairs standing up to other pairs throughout a hand.

Keep in mind that any of the hands in the chart will lose to a flush or a straight. When you play pocket aces, the biggest danger is seeing a flush draw or a straight draw on the flop. If you play pocket kings, take caution when you see an ace on the flop.

Chances You Won't Flop a Set and an Overcard Hits the Board

Pocket Aces 0%
Pocket Kings 20.67%
 Pocket Queens 37.84%
Pocket Jacks 51.83%
Pair of 10's 62.94%
Pair of 9's 71.53%
Pair of 8's 77.92%
Pair of 7's 82.43%
Pair of 6's 85.39%
Pair of 5's 87.12%
Pair of 4's 87.96%
Pair of 3's 88.22%
Pair of 2's 88.24%

Players also should have a general idea of the strength of hands preflop. Based on a 9-player table, these are the odds that someone else has a better hand than you when you hold the starting hands below.

Pay close attention to the starting hands at the bottom of the table. These hands are not as strong as a new player's intuition might tell them, so again be cautious. 

Preflop Odds That Someone Has a Better Hand Than You 

AK 22 to 1
KK 22 to 1
QQ 10.5 to 1
JJ 7 to 1
10-10 5 to 1
AQ 4 to 1
99 4 to 1
KQ 3 to 1
AJ 2.5 to 1
KJ 2 to 1
A10 1.7 to 1
QJ 1.5 to 1
K10 1.5 to 1


How to Play a Hand of Limit Texas Hold'em

Previously, we've discussed Limit Texas Hold'em strategy in the most general sense. For those wanting tips for specific stages of a hand, here is our advanced Limit Texas Hold'em strategy. 

Pre-Flop Strategy in Limit Hold'em

  • Look for Loose Games: When selecting tables, beware of tight/aggressive tables. Because you're going in against stronger hands, these have low profit and high volatility. Tables with loose players have at least 30% of the players seeing the flop. 
  • Analyze Play Styles: Pose questions to yourself as you play to determine opponents' play styles. Does a player call with weaker hands? How do they play pocket pairs? What about straight and flush draws? What do they check-raise with? What hands do they raise or re-raise with?
  • Play Premium Starting Hands: Against a standard table size, only play about 20% to 25% of the hands. If you're not folding 75% to 80% of the time, you're playing too many hands.
  • Steal Pots When in Late Position: After the flop, if few players are in the pot and most check, take the pot when in late position (with a raise). Only do this when it looks like the flop didn't help anyone. 

Post-Flop Strategy

  • Calculate Pot Odds: When you're drawing, calculate the pot odds and only bet if the pot justifies the call. 
  • Bet or Raise With Strong Hands: If you have a strong hand, don't let opponents see too many free cards. Don't call, but instead bet or raise with a strong hand. If the opponent is on a draw, you want to end the hand as quickly as possible.
  • Avoid Betting Without a Good Kicker: The second card (kicker) should be strong. Weak kickers often create second-best hands. 

Strategy on the Turn and River

  • Vary Your Play: Don't always follow the orthodox play. Limp-in at times on raising hands and bet/raise on calling hands sometimes. If you get caught doing this and costs you cash, it's not entirely lost money -- it adds to your unpredictability factor. 
  • Know When to Fold: Some of the best poker plays is knowing when to fold. Don't draw when you know you're beaten and the pot doesn't warrant a call. Swallow your pride and save your chips for the next hand.
  • Don't Bluff as Much: Because Limit Hold'em has smaller pots, players are less likely to lay down strong hands. Don't bluff unless you suspect your opponent has a weak hand. 

Limit Texas Hold'em Strategy FAQ

How do you win at Limit Holdem?

Patience, caution, skill, and targeted aggression. To win, you must improve at the game. Learn basic Limit Hold'em strategies and play many hands to improve your poker skills. Read advice on Limit Holdem strategy or take an online course from one of the top poker schools. 

What is 4/8 Limit Hold em?

4/8 limit holdem means the game has a small blind of $4 and a bid blind of $8. In most limit poker games, the minimum bet allowed equals the size of the bid blind. The biggest single bet allowed in Limit Hold'em therefore would be $8. Most players buying in to a 4/8 Limit Hold'em game buys $200 or so in chips. 

Is No-Limit Hold'em strategy solved?

If by solved you mean that there's a rigid system that assures winning, then No-Limit Hold'em isn't solved. Even the best players have rough patches where they lose cash. Players of all sorts run hot and cold, however skillful they are. No-limit Hold'em includes a fair amount of reading players (psychology) and game theory, meaning a key part of the game is more art than science.

If you want to put it in academic terms, you could say that No-Limit Hold'em is more of a soft science than a hard science -- there's guesswork involved even for the masters. 

What's the difference between Limit Hold'em and No-Limit Holdem?

Limit Hold'em has a set limit to the amount a player can bet at any one time. The pot increases incrementally, so limit Hold'em players must be more patient and calculating in their strategy. When considering implied odds while betting on the river, you're only considering the size of another big bet by your opponent.

No-Limit Hold'em bets are limited only by the size of a player's chip stack or their opponent's chip stack (whichever is smaller). At any time, either opponent can go "all-in" -- betting their entire chip stack. This causes much wilder swings in chip stacks (and fortune), which players must keep in mind. In NLTE, when considering implied odds on the river bet, you're considering your opponent's entire chip stack if you have him/her covered. If not, you're considering the fact you might bust out of the game. 

Should I play Limit or No-Limit Texas Holdem?

It's a matter of preference. If you prefer bigger swings of fortune, then play No-Limit Texas Hold'em. If you prefer a game which requires more patience and doesn't have an immediate risk of busting out, then consider Limit Hold'em.

Whichever you play, new players who are still learning the game should become penny players. Once you increase your bankroll at one level, move up to the next blind level and so on. 

Is Limit Hold'em Poker profitable?

Absolutely, but only if you're skillful at Limit Hold'em poker. Like other variants, Limit Hold'em has elements of chance, but it's also a game of skill. Even if you play well, you might lose. Over time, poker is one of the few games that a gambler can expect to win money playing.

As the old saying goes-- if you don't know who the worst player at the table is, you're the worst player. To master Limit Hold'em poker, you must combine several types of expertise: mastery of Limit Hold'em strategy, math skills for pot odds, insight into human psychology, and experience at the game. 

What is the best Limit Hold'em Strategy?

Read through the Limit Hold'em strategy tips above for the best Limit Hold'em advice. Read the Limit Hold'em section of David Sklansky's The Theory of Poker for more tips. Try Jared Tendler's The Mental Game of Poker if you want insight into the psychology of poker.

Each skill should be perfected by reading specific books, such as Essential Poker Math by Alton Hardin. Hardin's book provides advice on expected value, implied odds, pot odds, and how to calculate your outs on the go.