They say that things are good for you in moderation – even moderation. If that’s the case, then maybe some game limits will do you good.

While the most popular flavor of poker is no-limit hold ‘em, playing the limit version can net you a pretty penny as well. Before you dive in with two feet, we’ve mapped out four differences between the two games:


Harder To Make Up For Mistakes

Think of no-limit poker as higher risk and higher reward. In this case, we’ll focus on the reward part to illustrate the difference between the two games.

If you make a mistake in no-limit poker and get burned for 20% of your chips, there’s a good chance you can make up for it the next time you’re dealt a good hand like a pair of aces. That’s because in no-limit, you can bet as much as you want and go all-in. If it works out, you can do more than just cover up for a previous mistake.

However, limit hold ‘em is a different story. With fixed limits, it’s going to take you a number of wins just to make up for the loss. One big hand gone awry will take you much longer to recover from in limit hold ‘em. Think of it more as a marathon than a sprint.


Smaller Hands are More Valuable

In no limit, a smart player won’t risk playing mediocre hands – especially early in a tournament. However in limit, you’re range has to expand and you’re going to want to play more hands.

The reason is simple: since you can’t rake in a huge win off of a great hand, you’re going to have to consistently make smaller wins. Remember, the bets are smaller too so you’re not going to get burned as badly losing with a pair of 10’s  but the bottom line is if you’ve got an edge, you need to try and take advantage.


Pre-Flop Raising

There’s definitely pre-flop raising in both fixed limit and no-limit hold ‘em poker but you’re going to want to lean on that strategy a little harder in the limit version. In no-limit, if you’ve got a great hand, you can simply check or play coy to try, and bait others into the pot. You can afford to do that because there are no limits on how much you can take them for after the flop, turn or river.

However, in limit hold ‘em, if you have a good hand and don’t do a pre-flop raise, you’re almost doing yourself a disservice. Awesome hands simply aren’t as valuable in limit hold ‘em so when they come along, making a pre-flop raise helps sweeten the pot should you eventually win it.


Expect More Players Involved

Lastly, expect to see more players involved in each pot in limit hold ‘em than you would in no-limit. The math is quite simple: it’s cheaper to get involved. In no limit, you can get punished badly for trying to see a flop but in limit hold ‘em, it’s far more affordable.

Keep that in mind when you’re calculating your odds of winning. In no limit, a couple of kings look great against one or two players but in limit hold ‘em, don’t be surprised if you’re up against five or more players. That will cut into your chances of winning – even with a good hand.