Differences in No Limit and Limit Hold Em

written by: John

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It is quite interesting how two almost identical games with the same rules and overall objective can be almost polar opposites of each because of one simple difference, the betting format. But that is certainly the case when comparing the "Cadillac of Poker," No Limit Texas Hold'em to Limit Texas Hold'em.

So what's so different between the betting formats? Well, as many of you probably know, no limit hold'em allows players to bet as little as the big blind to as much as their whole stack whenever it is their turn to act on any of the 4 betting rounds. So for example, if a player was involved in a hand, the blinds were $1 /$2 and he had $128 in front of him, he would have to bet at least $2 but could bet as high as $128. Players are not capped in any way in terms of the amount they can bet or how many raises can be made in a single betting round.

Fixed limit is quite the opposite. A 'fixed' limit can be bet each round that cannot be deviated from and there is in most cases a cap of no more than 3 raises allowed per round. The first 2 betting rounds will consist of the smaller bet being allowed while the last two rounds will allow players to use the bigger bet. For example, in a $1/$2 game, pre-flop and post flop players can bet and/or raise in $1 increments up to a maximum of $3 per round. On the turn and river, players have to bet/raise a minimum of $2 with a maximum of $6 per round/per player.

So as you can see, there is a substantial difference in how these two games are played. This difference in betting forces players to have a completely different approach from one game to the other in terms of mindset and strategy. We have outlined a few of these things for you below.

No Limit vs Fixed Limit Poker

Before I start with some of the differences, I'd like to share a quote that I just read online:

"Limit poker is a science and no limit poker is an art form."

Let's analyze the differences using the quote above.

Starting with limit hold'em, the 'science' aspect of the quote makes sense because limit hold'em is more of a mechanical game. Since you cannot make a raise high enough to protect your hand, everyone will chase their draws and in fact, are correct in doing so. In light of this, it is important that players understand and realize when they are beat so that they can fold. This is the single handedly the most important aspect of limit hold'em; know when you are beat, fold and save your chips for a better spot. This is how players win at limit hold'em.

In no limit however, players can bet as many chips as they'd like at any given time. By being able to do this, they create incorrect odds for their opponents to chase hands that players would normally chase in limit hold'em. If the opponent decides to chase their hand, you know that you have forced them to make a mistake that in the long run will cost them and will show a nice profit for you. This really touches base on the 'art form' of the quote simply because there is no structure to the betting. Players need to be creative in their betting and raising so that they can control the pot in attempt to manipulate their opponent's decisions depending on whether the player is ahead in the hand or behind. This will help to minimize losses and maximize wins.  

Now, aside from the quote above, let's go over some other important key differences between these two betting formats.


Although it would make sense in ones mind that since you can risk your stack at any one time, that a player should have a bigger bankroll for no limit games in comparison to limit games.

But that's not really the case. In fact, players should have just as much of a bankroll for limit games simply because players will face bigger and longer periods of variance in limit hold'em then they will no limit hold'em. The biggest reason being is that it is correct most times for players to chase draws, thus making it difficult to control any aspect of the hand. This will often result in being beaten much more.

Since in no limit hold'em players can bet as much as they want, they can try to attempt to control the pot so that they lose less to these types of beats.

In short, players should look to have at least 300 to 500 big blinds of the stakes they wish to play in either games.   

Making Money

This will be pretty brief since it should be obvious. But in terms of making money, no limit hold'em would be the way to go simply because you can stack a player at any time whereas in limit hold'em, the most you can make is about 9 times whatever the big blind is per person.

It is important to keep in mind that with both making money and having a bankroll that these factors are considering that the players who utilized these tips are winning players. No money in the world will save you long term if you are a consistently losing player.  


Obviously, there are books and books on both of these subjects so what we provide here is just a generalization. But in terms of strategy, one of the biggest differences is that in no limit hold'em, players are playing more than just their cards, they are playing their opponents as well. Players can make bluffs, huge bets, check raises or whatever they think will work against that one opponent. Since each player is different, these strategies will obviously be different as well.

But in limit hold'em, players can only bet so much so there is little room for maneuvering. This forces players to play their cards in relation to the board that much more than no limit hold'em.

No Limit or Limit Hold'em

They have the same name and they have the same rules, but it is obvious that No Limit Hold'em and Limit Hold'em are worlds apart in difference.

So which game should a player master? In all honesty, I don't quite think it matters since both games utilize strategies, concepts and theories that can only benefit a player's overall poker game. In my opinion, why not learn how to play both of them well?

But if it really comes down to picking only one game, why not just ask yourself which do you like best, science or art?