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Straight Limit Poker

  Straight limit poker is a game in which the allowable betting limits do not change at any time during the game.  The most common examples of straight limit Hold’em Poker are $1-$4 and $1-$ 5 limit as opposed to a structured $ 3-$6 or $10-$20 type game.  You can bet ss1, $2, $ 3 , $4 or $ 5 at any time during the hand.  It’s not a very common betting structure any more but it’s currently the highest legal limit in South Dakota and the newer poker rooms throughout the mid-western states.
  Here’s a list of the most important things you’ll need to know about straight limit:

  • Players who buy-in for the minimum (usually $20) intend to play very carefully.  When you see this player play his first hand, you’ll know it’s a much better than average hand.
  • It’s easier to save money if you’re running bad or not catching any cards to play.  Since there’s only a single $1 blind, you can be very patient.  The blinds will cost only about $40 in an eight hour session.
  • It’s less expensive if you’re playing speculative hands.  You can see the flop for only $1 and fold quite a few times and still be able to make your lost blinds in only one hand.
  • Because so many players will see the flop for only $1, you’ll win a good sized pot when you win the hand.
  • The flip side to this is that you’ll suffer a lot of bad Beats because as the pot gets bigger and bigger, you will only be able to bet $ 5 to protect your hand.  The other players will often have the correct odds to draw to hands that they could not play if the bet doubled on the turn.  Players are more likely, not less likely, to call when you bet on the turn and river.
  • You will have more check-raising opportunities on the flop because you don’t have to wait for the bet double on the turn.  There is no need to wait for the turn to check-raise.
  • There are no free cards to buy since the bet does not double on the turn.  Raising on the flop to save a bet on the turn doesn’t work because it cost just as much to raise on the flop as it does to bet on the turn.  That’s not true in either the $ 3-$6 type limit games, or a $1-$4-$ 8-$ 8 game where it costs only $4 to raise on the flop but it cost $ 8 to bet on the turn.
  • You’ll probably have big swings in your bankroll in a straight limit game.  That’s due to the preponderance of weaker players who play every hand and who frequent these low limit poker games.

There is one important lesson to be learned from straight limit that applies to $1-$4-$ 8-$ 8 limit.  If you’re going to bet or raise, then you should bet or raise the limit.  Make them pay to beat you.  If you bet $1 or $2 on the turn or river when you could  have bet $ 8, then you are giving your opponents incredibly good odds to call and possibly beat you.
  For example, if you bet $2 into a $40 pot, then the first player to call you is getting 20-1 on his money and that makes it correct for him to call with just about any hand he could have in a Hold’em game.  If he has an inside straight draw then his odds of making the hand with one card to come are 11-1.  If you bet $ 8 then he will have to throw his hand away because now he’s getting only 6-1 pot odds on his 11-1 draw.
  When you decide how much to bet, you are to some extent, deciding what odds to offer your opponent.

Playing the Overs
  Playing the overs  is what you are doing when you are playing for a higher limit than that officially posted for the game.  It is a game within a game.
  Here’s how it works: Assume you’re in a ten handed $1-$4-$ 8-$ 8 game and there are two other players beside yourself who would like to play higher limit.  They’re in the one and five seats and you’re in the ten seat and you have an agreement to “play the over” with these players.  As soon as the other players fold leaving only the overs  players, the limit changes to pot limit or whatever other limit you’ve all agreed to.  However, as long as there is one other player in the hand who does not want to play the overs, the limit does not change.  Playing the overs comes into effect only when the only players left in the hand are players who want to play the overs.
  If you are playing the overs, the floorman will give you a button that says “Overs”or if they don’t have buttons available, they will write the word “Over” on a piece of paper and give it to you.  You are supposed to keep your button or paper in front of you in plain sight for all the players to see at the beginning of the hand.  This tells everyone that you are an overs player.  If you are playing the others and you change your mind about it, you should turn your button or piece of paper over to show the word NO.  That will indicate that you are an overs players but you are choosing not to play the overs on this or any other hand that you indicate NO.
  There are several reasons why you would change your mind about playing the overs.  You might have lost most of your bankroll and want to protect what’s left by not having to call pot-sized bets.  You might be the Biggest poker winner in the game and you want to protect all those checks in front of you by not having to call a pot-sized bet.  Or, the lineup you are facing might have changed and there are players in the game who are better than you.  You don’t want to risk losing your entire stack in one or two hands.
  If you do not want to play the overs and there are players in your game who are playing the overs, it will never affect you.  The limit cannot change if you’re in the hand and you do not want to play the overs.  If you do play the overs, and you should because you’re a winning poker player regardless of the limit, here’s a few things you should know about it.

  1. Play Tighter

You should play a little tighter than usual before the flop.  It can be very expensive to draw to a hand that is not the nuts and then have someone bet the size of the pot on the river.  Hands like Q♥ 8♥, K♣ T♠ , a♦ 9♠ are pretty good hands in low limit, but you can lose a lot of money when you make a Q-high flush, a pair of Kings with a Ten kicker, or a pair of Aces with a 9 kicker when someone bets the size of the pot.

  1. Limit vs. Pot Limit

Remember that the hand you start out with in a limit game may be the hand you end up with in a pot limit game.  The starting requirements for pot limit are so much more stringent because the cost of a mistake is so much more.  It costs more to lose a hand at pot limit poker.

  1. Stay to the left

If there are only two of you who want to play the overs, you should try to move to that player’s immediate left without making it obvious why you’re making the move.  He will always have to act before you and you’ll always have position on him.  Every time he checks to you he won’t know if you’re going to bet, and if you do bet, and if you do bet, whether or not you have a hand or on a steal.  Every time he bets in to you, he won’t know if he’s risking a flop raises the size of the pot.

  1. If You Have a Calling Hand

If you have a calling hand, but it’s not that good, play your hand in such a way that you don’t unnecessarily drive out a non-overs player.  As long as there’s at least one non-overs player in the hand, you won’t have to call pot-sized bets to draw to your hand, and you won’t be bluffed out by a big bet.

  1. Play the Overs

You should encourage other players and poker room management to let you play the overs.  Most low limit players do not know about playing the overs and when they learn about it they usually like it.

Playing Higher Limit Hold’em
  Sooner or later, if you’re a good player, you’ll want to play Hold’em for a higher limit.  Actually, graduating to $ 5-$10 and /or $10-$20 should be your ultimate goal.  You should not be intimidated by the higher limit because only the size of the bets as they relate to one another is important in a Poker game.  If you bet one chip, then the other players will have to call or raise with only one chip.
  Imagine that you are playing in a $2-$4 game with a $100 buy-in.  The blinds are $1 and $2 and it takes either $2 or $4 to bet, call and raise.  Now imagine that you played for six hours and you cashed out $250, for a $150 win.  Now imagine that the checks you have just been playing with are red instead of white and they are worth $ 5 each instead of just $1.  That means you’ve been playing $10-$20 Hold’em Poker with a $ 500 buy-in instead of $2-$4 and you won $ 750 instead of $150.
  You got the same cards, played the same hands, made the same bets, raises and calls, and lost and won the same pots.  Only the value of the chips was different.  The drawing odds and pot odds are the same regardless of the limit you are playing for.  The poker chips have no value until you cash out.  My advice is to play for the highest limit you can comfortably afford.  It helps you play your best game and it gives you the best opportunity to win some real money.  After all, that is why you’re playing poker, isn’t it?
  If you’re going to play higher limit Hold’em , here’s a few tips to help you with your first foray into the big game:

  1. Playing with Regulars

Most of the players you’ll play against in a $10-$20 game will be regulars in that game and they will try to intimidate you with the stakes.  They will bet and raise in a more physically threatening manner (to you) and they will attempt to bluff you out if you show any hesitation or weakness in the play of your hand.  You will face more raises on the turn since this makes you call $40, what they know is probably a very large amount of money to you.

  1. Buy-in

You should buy in for at least $ 300 in an $ 5-$10 game and at least $ 500 in a $10-$20 game.  A $ 500 buy-in for a $10-$20 game is exactly the same thing as buying in for $100 in a $2-$4 game.

  1. Playing Level

Often, the players in a $10-$20 game are not better players than you are.  They just have enough money to play poker a higher limit and get more enjoyment from these higher stakes.

  1. Play Tighter than Usual

Play tighter than usual until you get accustomed to the Game.  When in doubt, you should tend to fold more in the early going.