Dealing with the subject of bets precisely in the No Limit Hold’em modality will allow us to deal with how to approach each bet that is made, taking into account that, as the name of the game indicates, there is no limit when it comes to setting the maximum limit of the bet.
This allows us to play in a more open way, but it can also expose us to risks. To familiarize yourself with NLH betting, we have prepared this post with some general guidelines that will help you to better approach no-limit play.
NLH preflop betting basics
There are two factors that influence No Limit betting: the amount and the timing. More importance is usually given to the first one, when the second one is the key to determine the success of the bet.
Because knowing when to bet and when not to bet will end up saving us from many situations in which we would end up losing money, and let’s remember that maintaining a good BRM is essential if we are looking to consolidate our position.
To bet well in a NLH game we have to manage well the preflop raise, call and re-raise. Remember that the preflop is the part of the game that will determine your strategy. Playing it wrong commits you for the whole hand.
Resorting to a preflop raise can give us several advantages: it allows us to define the game, we take the lead from the beginning, it will allow us to isolate those players who are easier to read, it will allow us to camouflage our hand and it can even make us win the hand almost without playing. The preflop raises are a blow on the table that give us authority. Used well, they will put the game in our favor.
Another point to keep in mind: the limp. Sometimes, limpers are unavoidable. Seeing a bet without raising happens more often than you think, but it is an equally valid option. Resorting to it can be a good idea if we believe that the player behind us is going to raise.
Limping also works against blinds that are bad postflop players, as well as when maintaining a cover during a speculative play during a multiplayer pot.
As for re-raise, or 3bet, it is something that in NLH is usually done when you have a premium hand. Here there is little room for interpretation: who 3bets is someone who has a monster hand or some premium cards that will give him the hand.
But it can happen that the original raiser makes a smaller bet than the standard bet. If we have good cards, it is worthwhile to raise the bet to the limit, but without overbetting so as not to x-ray our game. Besides, with an overbet we can cancel part of the value of good cards, so don’t go overboard.
Comparison between preflop and postflop bets
Star Wars had the clone wars, and No Limit Hold’em has its preflop wars. No-limit poker is a magnet for maniacs, hence the importance of preflop play. Overbetting preflop bets are common when a maniac enters the scene. In this case, it is in your best interest to isolate your game from his to let him lose without being affected. Something difficult if the maniac is the one who speaks immediately before you.
Whoever raises and reraises without stopping will have all the chances to get the “maniac” badge, because it is something that only they do. Even in a No Limit game. But beware: maniacs play like this if they have at least one good card, K or A, in their hand. Their reasoning is based on the idea that, if the others have no game, they automatically have it. That’s why they start making crazy re-raises from the beginning and force us to fold.
What if I want to stay in the game, but a maniac keeps raising and re-raising? In that case, the best thing to do is to limit damage. We can drag him all-in (he won’t avoid it, they love to go all-in) and beat them at showdown. But for this to give us any chance of victory we have to keep a tighter game than the maniac, have isolated them and be sure that we will be able to withstand a string of raises and re-raises.
Let’s imagine now that we start a NLH game from the blinds. It is the worst thing that can happen, nobody wants to play preflop from SB or BB, since that condemns us to lose money, but there are ways to cushion those losses.
For starters, avoid getting into absurd hands. It’s easy to do that by playing from the blinds, and that’s the first mistake. Playing passively, with a low profile and staying out of trouble is going to be best until we change positions. From the blinds, the game is 100% defensive. We will have to avoid playing marginal hands to have any chance of keeping our stack as intact as possible.