Part VI-B: Post Flop Betting: No Limit Versus Limit

Author's Note: This article is part of a larger course for new players. Course links are provided at the bottom of this page.

In both No Limit and Limit type games its important to bet aggressively after the flop with top pair, assuming top pair is all you have. No Limit offers more betting options in this regard, and it is a mistake to play too tight if you are afraid that your kicker is marginal. Generally in No Limit, from a good position, you should bet the amount that is already in the pot after the flop has come and you hit top pair.

Betting too little at this point will tell your opponents too much about your hand, and will encourage calls with other top pairs and draws. Even if you are outkicked, if you have played pre-flop correctly, then it is better to force the other top pair holder to make a difficult decision to your aggressive move than it is to bet too little on this type of hand and potentially lose the pot to a draw.

In No Limit it is important that you observe the table in order to see how much you need to bet in order to get people off draws and top pairs. This amount can vary greatly from table to table, up to 3x the amount that is currently in the pot. So you should be looking to get this information early in your session.

Another situation I want to cover in No Limit is when two suited cards hit the flop and you've got a good pair. If there is an all-in move, especially from a short stacked player, and this happens frequently enough in tournament play, as well as cash games, then you should consider calling. A lot of your decision here is going to be based on how much money you have versus your opponent.

If calling his all-in is going to put you all-in, and he is an otherwise good player, then you should likely fold. But if he seems like a weak player needing to make a hand, and he's got less money than you, then you should probably call on the likelihood that he's betting on a flush draw. Bad players see betting on this type of a draw as a good desperation play. It usually doesn't work because they don't have enough chips to scare their opponents off a hand, and their opponents can see that the level of their play is poor.

In a Limit game you have less options since there is only one size of bet that you can throw out after the flop. What intimidates people in a Limit game therefore is fast and consistent betting. Its going to be harder in Limit to get your opponent off a good top pair, especially if he sees you as a loose player. If your in the hand solidly with top pair and you come out betting fast, and get raised, then its important for your table image that you don't lay down too quickly. You might try a re-raise in this situation and see what the turn brings you.

How you play the rest of the hand is going to depend greatly on how you read your opponents play, and how much the cards on the table indicate the likelihood that a lot of better hands can be made than what you're holding. If it seems likely that many can, and your opponent is a tight to normal player, then you should think about folding if he continues to bet into you and the turn hasn't improved your hand, assuming your kicker is marginal. By marginal I mean a jack or less.

But if your kicker is good, and the likelihood to make a lot of other better hands isn't there, and you perceive your opponent's play to be on the looser side, then I would at least call to the river. You might even try to re-raise on the turn. If he wants to keep escalating after that, then he's either a maniac, or he's got hold of a set or top two pair. But when you've played pre-flop correctly, and hold a good top pair, its better to err on the side of aggression than it is to let your opponents know that your scared to bet your hand. You have got to learn to make it hard for them to beat you when you are holding nearly equivalent value type hands, and the only way to do that in a Limit game is to force difficult decisions with fast and aggressive betting.

The following links for this poker course are listed sequentially. Beginners may want to go through in the order in which they are listed to get the whole rundown. More advanced players may want to skip around to the parts which hold interest for them.


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