Pots or Bets?

One of the key differences between limit hold’em and no-limit hold’em comes from the emphasis on the importance between winning pots and saving bets. In limit tournament play ,winning pots is of paramount importance over the saving of bets. An example may be if you called your very aggressive opponent down to the river with A-K and the board has totally missed you and they bet again and your hand is best. If your hand is good and the pot is something like 6 big bets then folding is a disaster as it has lead to the loss of an entire pot and 6 big bets.

Those six big bets are difficult to get back in limit when you have to show the best hand far more often or win pots. If you can catch your opponent bluffing more than one time in seven in that situation then your hand is showing a good profit and it also helps to protect you from being run over in other situations as well. But in no-limit play it is kind of different as the amount that your opponent will bet on the river is far higher in relation to what is already in the pot.

You opponents bet on the river in the limit hand represented only 1/6th of what was actually in the pot at that stage but a pot sized bet on the river in no-limit would be 1/1 and be 100% of the pot size. You had 6/1 pot odds in the limit example but only 2/1 in the no-limit example. So the penalty for being wrong in no-limit is far more severe and this means that saving bets is more important that winning pots in no-limit.

You could lose forty $2 pots in no-limit but that series of losses could be offset by one big pot of more than $80 and as long as you had not been wasting money needlessly in pots then you can come out ahead despite only winning a very tiny percentage of pots. It would be impossible to make money in limit hold’em having that kind of won pots to lost pots ratio. You really must get in and fight for pots constantly at limit and this is especially the case if you are playing six handed.

If you are constantly losing pots or your opponents are pressuring you away from pots too frequently in limit hold’em then you either need to adjust and start calling down far lighter than you feel comfortable doing or you need to find yourself a softer game. You can often afford to get “run over” in no-limit hold’em. When I say “run over” then what I mean is that you can afford losing many tiny small pots to loose aggressive god players and you can still come out ahead if there are enough bad players in the game.

But if you cannot stand up to aggressive LAG’s at limit then you have no chance of survival. So decide if you want to win pots or save bets as that could be the key to your survival in poker.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson