Pot Limit Texas Hold’em is a variation of big bet poker just like no limit hold’em. It is not as widely played as no limit hold’em or limit hold’em but it is still a very popular form of poker indeed. In this article then we will look at the strategies involved in playing this game very well. This game is played very similar to no limit hold’em except for the fact that bets and raises can be no more than what is in the pot at any time and so there is no capacity to bet or raise more than the pot.
As in all big bet poker games, your selection of pre-flop hands needs to be done with great care because you very much reap what you sow in this form of poker. In pot limit hold’em position is vitally important and you will play the vast majority of your playable hands from position. Weaker hands often play better with superior position than supposedly stronger holdings that have weak position.
An example can be seen if a player has say A-Qs and raises in early position and gets called by two players in the cut-off and on the button. Even if the raiser hits a good flop like with A-8-7 then they cannot rule out being behind to one of the callers. So you need to be very cognisant of escalating the pot when your position is weak. In big pot games then pots escalate geometrically which essentially means that the bigger they get then the bigger they have the capacity to become.
Stack size plays a vital role in your pre-flop strategy as do how skilled your opponents are. If you feel that your opponents are weak and the stacks are deep enough then you can profitably call raises with speculative hands like pocket pairs and suited connectors. However you need to be careful not to take these hands too far if you hit marginal flops with them. Tight is right in pot limit hold’em cash games and you can readily exploit players who play too loosely given the structure of the game.
In pot limit hold’em cash games you need to be aware that you are often taking and setting odds. For example if the pot is $20 and you want to bluff at the pot and you have $100 left in your stack then you would be foolish to bet the entire $100. This would be in actual fact in a betting sense be taking odds of 1/5. If your opponent is weak then a bet of $10-$12 would get them to fold just as much. So you need to be cognisant of your bet sizing in pot limit hold’em cash games.
This applies if you have good hands as well because you are betting and raising for value. One of the biggest mistakes that I see players make with strong hands is that they get their bet sizing wrong and they end up blasting their opponents out of the pot and losing value. Because the ratio of money in the pot is only small compared to the amount of money left to bet then implied odds and fold equity are more important than pot odds.
This takes us on nicely to drawing hands and how to play them. As has already been stated, implied odds and fold equity are much more important than pot odds and this can be reflected in how you play drawing hands and why you do certain things. Let us look at an example here to show you what I mean. An early position player raises with a 100bb stack and a player calls on the button with 9c-8c.
The way that a strong player and a weak player play this hand will differ widely. A strong player will not be relying just on hitting their hand to make money from the situation. They will look to bluff raise the flop or the turn with draws especially if the hand is heads up. But the key to playing drawing hands is to be flexible with them because how aggressively you play drawing hands is often dependent on how many opponents are in the pot with you. If you can be certain that you can profitably call with a drawing hand based on the likelihood of a weaker opponent paying you off then that can be a successful tactic in pot limit hold’em cash games.
As a rule though strong players look to make semi-bluff raises on the flop with drawing hands to increase their level of fold equity. In pot limit hold’em cash games then you are constantly trying to assess whether or not you have the best hand or not. If you don’t then you can use the big bet nature of the game to launch a bluff if you believe that the chances of success are good. If you do have the best hand then your primary objective becomes one of maximising as much value as you possibly can.
Written by: Carl “The Dean” Sampson