No Limit Texas Hold’em
The No Limit part of No Limit Texas Hold’em is referring to the fact players can raise or bet all of their chips at any time during a session. Basically if you have $100 in front of you and you like what you see in your hand (and in any Community Cards) you can push all of your chips into the pot. This article will run you through everything you need to know about No Limit Texas Hold’em.
One aspect that can be confusing for No Limit Texas Hold’em players is the size of the raise that is allowed. You must raise at least the size of the previous bet or raise. So in a poker game with $5/$10 blinds the player under the gun could not bet $15 because it is not double the big blind. In this circumstance you must bet at least $20, which is double the big blind.
More often than not, the first person to raise makes a bigger bet. For instance, after a bet of $50 (which would be a raise of $40), the next player would have several options: Fold, Call (the $50) or raise the bet further. If the player does raise he would have to place at least $90 in the pot because it must match the previous raise. Just to be clear you couldn’t raise a further $5 on a $50 raise. The only limit placed on your raises is the chips you have in front of you.
While you cannot buy chips after a hand is underway, when you are playing a No Limit Hold’em game that isn’t in a tournament, you can buy chips in between hands.
If you are down to your last chips and someone bets bigger than you, it does not rule you out from the hand, instead it will create a main side pot if a third player is involved in the betting. If there is no third player the big bettor will take the extra chips back.
Side Pots in NL Texas Hold’em
Side pots also happen frequently in limit poker, but because the bets are larger in No-Limit, the situation tends to occur a bit more frequently here. Let’s look at an example involving three players, Tom, Dick, and Harry. When the hand starts, Tom has $1,000 in chips, Dick has $400, and Harry has $2,500. The blinds are $5-$10.
In the pre-flop betting, Tom opens the hand for $50, and Dick and Harry each call, with everyone else folding. This puts $165 in the main pot.
After the flop, Tom decides to bet $500. Dick only has $350 left, but he likes his hand, and decides to call all-in for his $350. If Harry folds, $150 would be returned to Tom and the hand would be played out without any further betting, because Dick has nothing left to bet.
If, on the other hand, Harry also likes his hand, he has two options. The first is to call the $500 bet. This would create a $300 side pot between Tom and Harry only; Bob is not eligible for it, even if it turns out he has the best hand of the three players. The main pot, for which Dick is eligible, contains the $165 that went in before the flop, and $350 from each of the three players ($1,050), for a total of $1,215. Tom is eligible to win this, as of course are also Dick and Harry.
Harry might also decide that he really likes his hand, and instead of merely calling the $500 bet, he wants to move all-in. Because the other player remaining in the hand (Tom) has only $450 left in front of him, this is really tantamount to raising Tom’s bet $450.
Even though raises are supposed to equal or exceed the preceding bet, Harry bet is perfectly legal, because players are always allowed to raise all of their remaining chips, just as players are always allowed to call for all their remaining chips, even if they don’t have enough to call a full bet.
If Tom decides to fold to Harry’s raise, Harry and Dick remain in the pot to contest the main pot of $1,215.
If Tom decides to call Harry’s all-in raise, we have two pots. The main pot is $1,215, and will be awarded to whichever of the three players holds the best hand. The side pot is $1,200. Even if Dick has a royal flush, he cannot win this $1,200, because he did not invest any of his money in it; he invested only $400 in the hand. Whoever has the better hand between Tom and Harry will win the side pot, and if it turns out that this hand is also better than Bob’s, it will win the main pot as well.
Tips for playing No Limit Texas Hold’em
Texas Hold’em No Limit is not for beginners: As you can see from the size of the potential raises, in No-Limit, all of your chips can be at risk on any one hand. While this creates the potential for huge wins, it also creates the potential for large losses. For this reason, WGL recommends that novice players start off with limit poker, and only move into No-Limit after they gain a significant amount of experience. No-Limit tournaments are also an excellent place to gain experience in No-Limit without risking huge sums.