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The following video provides a brief overview of the EV analysis above:
Watch this video for instructions on fixed-limit betting, which is an important supplement to the fixed-limit analyses PDF above:
If you haven’t already done so, definitely read the following pages first (in the order listed below), as the information provided there is crucial for properly understanding the fixed-limit hold ’em strategy (FLS): managing your risk capital, how to spot live poker tells, starting-hands ranges and respective percentages for Texas Hold ’em, equity and expected value (EV) and many other fundamental concepts you’ll need to become a card shark in the shortest amount of time:
- Bankroll management
- Poker tells and “reading” opponents
- Texas Hold ‘em (cash games)
- Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #1: Short-stack strategy (SSS)
- Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #2: Poker Betting Strategies
- Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #3: Big-stack strategy (BSS)
- Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #4: Deep-stack strategy (DSS)
- Advanced Texas Holdem Strategy Article #5: “Hybrid” mid-stack strategy (MSS)
General Fixed-Limit Strategic Considerations
Begin by watching the videos provided above. With that information, you’ll already be miles ahead of most of your competition at the fixed-limit Texas Holdem cash-game tables … at least at the low and middle stakes. The consider re-reading the deep stack strategy page paying special attention to the story I provided on the deep-stack strategy page.
The biggest difference between no-limit and fixed-limit games is that you will often be in multi-way pots, and you’re opponents will often be able to call you down to the river with the correct odds. You will rarely be able to push “calling stations” off of their hands, because they can check/call you all day long. What does this mean? Bluff less and value bet more in fixed limit!
And finally, ensure that you always have enough big bets in your stack to be able to cap the betting on every round. In Texas Holdem, you can (usually) only make 3 raises per betting round or 4 bets. So 4 + 4 = 8 small bets if capped preflop and on the flop. You can then make 8 + 8 = 16 small bets if capped on the turn and river for a total small bets of 24 or 12 big bets per fixed-limit Texas Holdem hand when capped to the river. In a 10/20 game, you want to have $20 x 12 or at least $240 in your stack at the begging of each deal. In a $5/$10 game, you would want at least $120 in our stack.
Example: 10/20 Fixed-Limit Holdem
In a no-limit 10/20 game, you would correctly assume that the small blind would be $10 and the big blind would be $20. This is also referred to as “NL2000,” because the common maximum 100 BBs buy-in would equal $2,000. However, in fixed-limit games, the “10” refers to the big blind, which is also the “small bet” and maximum you are allowed to bet or raise both pre-flop and on the flop. On the turn and river, you are making “big bets” in increments of $20.
You are on the button with AhKh and two players limp in (i.e., call the $10 big-blind amount), and one player raises (makes a “2bet”) to $20. It’s folded to you, and you only call to change up your play and reduce your variance a bit because you know that you’ll miss the flop with that hand about 66% of the time!. However, generally with “Big Slick” you want to reraise or 3bet when on the button. The small blind folds, and the player in the big blind, getting 7. :1 pot odds, calls as do both limpers. Pot = $110.
The flop comes 2d 7h Th. Although you haven’t connected with the flop directly you have hit a monster draw with probably 15 outs (see the videos above and on the betting pages for the details) if you don’t put your opponents on a flopped set of 2s, 7s or tens. The two limpers check to the preflop aggressor, who makes a Cbet of one small bet, which gives you 12 : 1 pot odds. A lot of players will only call here in order for the two limpers to check/call behind. However, most players are very aware of and freeze up with the board is three-suited, and you might not get paid if a heart falls on the turn. In this spot, you are asking yourself what the best line of play is (e.g., only calling the Cbet or raising). If you think one of the limpers will call your raise and/or you think the Cbettor will 3bet you on the flop, I would generally recommend building the pot here with a raise.
- Let’s say you only call. The pot is $130, one limper folds and the other calls. Pot coming into the turn is $140.
- Let’s say you raise. The pot is $140, one limper folds and the other calls your raise. Pot is $160, but the Cbettor makes a reraise to $170, to which you can either call or raise. If you think the limper (now check/calling OOP on the flop) will call your raise, definitely raise which in this case would be 4bet capping the betting round! In this scenario, even if the check/caller folds to your 4bet on the flop, the pot on the turn would be $190.
On the turn a Jh falls, and you are now in the “big-betting” rounds. In your mind, you have the nut flush because the board is not paired, right? Here the preflop aggressor does something unexpected and bets into you again for $20, which is a so-called “second barrel.” You raise $20, and he comes over the top, to which you respond by “capping.”
The pot coming into the river is $270. You are happy with any card other than a 2, 7, T or J. Why? Because a paired board could make your opponent a full house if he’s on a pocket pair of 22, 77, TT or JJ, and since this opponent raised preflop from middle position, a pair of 7s, tens or jacks is definitely on his list. The river card is the Qc. The preflop aggressor makes a “triple-barrel” Cbet into you, and you raise, he reraises, and you of course come over the top and cap. He calls and shows you … 8h9h! This hand my friends was “the nuts” (i.e., an unbeatable hand) on the turn, not even on a paired board. Your AKs was the “second nuts.” Most players wouldn’t have noticed this, which is why I’ve provided you with this relatively extreme example. In heads-up play even in fixed-limit games, there is often no cap to reraising, so always be clear on exactly what is the actual nuts hand, and what is very close to the nuts but still potentially second best!
Lets’s say the river card were a 2c. Your opponent triple barrels into you as above, and here I would advise in almost all cases only calling because he obviously has no fear of you holding two hearts. You flat, and he shows you his pair of tens full of twos.
Let’s take a similar scenario, but in this case you hold 8c9c and the river is 2d 7h Th Jc Qs. In this case you do have the nut straight, right? Wrong! AK is now the nut straight, and someone holding AhKh certainly would have raised limpers from early/middle position and also potentially triple-barreled into you on a monster draw.
All I really want to show you with this is that you must keep an open and flexible mind at the card tables. There is no right or wrong, only more or less profitable lines of play.
Fixed-limit betting tip: In pots that were only 2bet pre-flop, you can opt to not make the small bet on the flop in order to make the big bet (i.e., twice the big blind) on the turn with potentially more fold equity.
Example: 5/10 Fixed-Limit Holdem
Your dealt 8c8d in the cut-off position. One player limps into the pot, and you over limp instead of raising. The small blind “completes” (i.e., only calls the 1/2 bet) and the big blind checks. The flop is $20 with four players still in the hand.
The flop comes 7h 9h 6d. It’s checked to you, and you decide to check behind because if you were to make the small bet here as a semi-bluff, you would be giving the next player to act $25 : $5 pot odds or 5 : 1. If she’s on a flush draw, she only needs 4.1 :1 pot odds to make the call because she will hit one of her nine flush outs 19.15% of the time on the turn.
The turn is your money card, the 5d. You’ve got the nut straight, right? Wrong! The nut straight is the 8T hand, but this is quite unlikely since you hold two 8s yourself. It’s check to you again, and now you can make the big bet of $10 to protect your made hand. In this case, the pot would be $30 and the next person to act would only be getting 3 : 1 pot odds when she needs at least 4.11 : 1 in order to call on a flush draw and break even in the long run. You do exactly this and get only one caller.
The pot is $40 and the river card is a Kc. Now the player bets into you, and not putting him on the unlikely 8T hand, you raise. He reraises, you 4bet, and he calls and shows you KdQd. You take down $80 or 16 small bets, which is a decent sized fixed-limit pot due to your very skillful and calculated in-position play with your speculative hand that turned into a monster (but not the “nuts”) on the turn. Congratulations, and welcome to expert-level poker!
Fixed-Limit Starting-Hands Chart (“Ranges”)
Full-Ring Starting Hands
“Cap” = 3 raises (generally irrespective of position/action): QQ+, AK; play on with TPTK or over-pair (pot-control vs. rocks & many cold calls)
EP: open-raise and raise limpers: TT+, AQ+ (4.68%); Looser = 99+, ATs+, AJo+, KQs (6.9%)
MP: open-raise: tighter: 77+, AJ+, KQo+, suited broadway (10.3%); Looser = 55+, ATo, A8s+,QJ+, QTs+, T9s+ (14.8%)
- MP/LP: limp/open-raise: 22-88 (cold-call w/22-TT), JT-KJ, ATo, A2s-A9s, 64s+, 54s+ (16.1%)
- MP/LP: raise limpers or over-flat (“cc”): 3bet SQZ vs. 1 loose raiser & cc): 22-JJ, AJ-AQ, KQ (8.1%)
CO/BU/SB: open-raise “steal”: 22+, broadway, A2+, K9+, J9+, 64s+, 54s+ (35.4%)
SB: “complete” vs. 1+ limpers: 22-88, T9-KQ, QJ-KJ, KTs-KQs, A2s-A9s, A8o-ATo, 64s+, 54s+ (18.3%) (54o+ w/3+ limpers: 22.8%)
Note: Always consider the “15x & 9x” rules for suited Ax, connectors & small/middle pocket pairs, especially when you are IP on your opponents.
6-Max Starting Hands Recommendations
See no-limit recommendations and then adjust accordingly (especially with speculative hands in middle and late position)
Heads-Up Starting Hands Recommendations
See no-limit recommendations and then adjust accordingly.
Strategy Recap and What’s to Come for Our Members
The fixed-stack strategy is not the most exciting strategy, because as you’ve seen above, you only play very tight ranges and are folding most of the hands you’ll be dealt. However, if you have the patience to play that tight, you will be able to take down pots from even expert players who may be far more experienced simply because the math is on your side. Especially when playing online poker where you can play multiple tables at the same time, this strategy is a great way to begin your poker career and/or continue your study of the game on a deeper level.
For our members, the next e-mail you’ll receive will be for how to play in tournaments: MTTs, SnGs and DoNs. Keep an eye on your inbox for these strategies for the different phases of tournament play in various tournament types in order to have a huge edge at your next game. As always, feel free to comment to this page below and drop us a line in the meantime if you have any questions.
Other Useful Tools for Maximizing Your Profit
Poker Tracking and Equity Analysis Software for Online Play
Holdem Manager (My personal favorite online poker-tracking software for Texas Hold ’em)
Omaha Manager (My personal favorite online poker-tracking software for Omaha)
Sit-and-Go Wizard (a must-have for all serious SnG players and very useful for MTT pros)