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Monday, August 22, 2005

My New Favorite Poker Game

Over the weekend I tried out a new Poker style which has quickly become my favorite style of play, Pot Limit. When I first started playing at PokerStars I stared out at the 5/10 No Limit Games, lost initially, but then gradually built up a 6000 chip bankroll (all play money of course) which got me feeling pretty good about myself. Then I switched from No Limit to Limit and did very well although I felt that Limit was much slower than No Limit because of the generally smaller pots. Pot Limit seem sot be the best of both worlds and I have been doing quite well with it on PokerStars .

For those of you who are not familiar with the Poker world, let me explain the differences between Limit, Pot Limit, and No Limit. In Limit Poker, your bets are a predetermined dollar amount, usually the amount of the big blind, this amount then doubles for the Turn and River betting. This is good when there are lots of players paying to see the flop. It's main downside is that the pots tend to be somewhat small, partially due to the small amount of the bets, and partially because there is usually a cap on the number of times you can bet in a single round.

No Limit is the exact opposite of Limit, and is most often played in tournaments. The Pot sizes can be huge and you can more than double your money with a good hand, the downside of this of course is that you can be put all in for your stack, even before the flop and lose your entire stack by having the second best hand at the table for that round.

Pot Limit falls in between these two extremes. Your bet can be of any dollar amount, but it cannot exceed the amount of money in the pot at any given time. This generally results in a controlled amount of betting prior to the flop, then an exponential increase in the size and amount of betting. Here's an example, the game is a $5/10 game, which means the small blind is $5 and the big blind is $10. The first person that can bet (which is also known as being Under The Gun or UTG for short) can bet no more than $15. If he does bet $15 the pot is now at $30 so the second person can now bet up to, but not over $30. If the player UTG does not bet, then Player Two can only bet up to the initial $15. If players continue betting and continue to double the pot each time, it doesn't take long before players can get up to being all in. Pot sizes here are generally much better than in limit games and can even be bigger than no limit games as No Limit usually comes down to two players being all in and chasing everyone out of the betting relatively quickly. The Pot Limit not only includes the two players who are all in, but also includes all the bets of people who thought, early on in the round, that they would play along before "bailing out" to the remaining players. This can sometimes add up to a significant amount, especially if it involves a large number of players.

Now the disclaimer. My only Pot Limit experience is on PokerStars in the play money games. I'm hoping to be able to round out my experience one of these days with both live games and money online games, but until then, I'll keep reading and playing, wish me luck.