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StrategyPoker Basics

Which Type of Hold'em Poker Is Best For You?


In this article
  • The pros and cons of No Limit Hold'em
  • The pros and cons of Sit and Goes
  • The pros and cons of Fixed Limit Hold'em

Hello and welcome to PokerStrategy.com, your professional poker school. You have registered with us and cannot wait for the poker to begin. But with so many games to choose from, where do you begin?

As you probably know, there are several kinds of poker, each with its own rules, as well as advantages and disadvantages, of course. You're probably interested in one form of Texas Hold’em. The strategy you should follow varies from one variant to another.

Of course, you could just go into the forum and ask our members which variant is the best, but you would hear each player telling you why his favorite variation is best. This article will discuss some of the pros and cons of the various Hold'em games, so that you can decide which version is best for you.

No Limit Hold'em

No Limit Hold'em is the most popular version of the game. As the name suggests, there is no limit to the size of the bets. You can bet all of your chips any given time by going "all-in". You can win your opponent's entire stack (or lose yours!) in a single hand.

The only limit to the amount that can be won or lost is the size of the players' stacks. You obviously can't double up a 2,000 chip stack against an opponent who only has 1,000 chips.

PokerStrategy.com teaches you to play No Limit Hold'em Big Stack Strategy.

Big Stack Strategy (BSS)

When you play the Big Stack Strategy, you buy-in for 100 Big Blinds. You will often have many of your opponents covered, which means that you have more chips than them and, should you go all-in, you can take their entire stack. However, you will certainly encounter difficult situations where you sometimes end up folding the best hand.


You can bet as many chips as you like in any betting round and can decide to play for your opponent's entire stack. Your profit is limited only by the size of your own stack and the stack of your opponent.

You will see fewer betting rounds than in Fixed Limit. Your opponents will fold their hands sooner and more often, allowing you to win many hands without a showdown. This saves you many difficult choices.

Unlike Fixed Limit, you will pay less in the form of rake. This could be the difference between profit and loss.

You can play more hands from the button, even ones that aren't very likely to win before the flop. You may ask yourself how this can be and the magic words are: implied odds.

This modified version of the pot odds takes the money that you can win from your opponent on later streets into account. Since you can win your opponent's entire stack on any street with No-Limit, it can be quite profitable to play hands you might not even consider playing in a Fixed Limit game. It's not so much the strength of your cards before the flop, but rather on the fact that a lot of money can be won after the flop. The Big Stack Strategy is a game of implied odds.

No Limit Hold'em is a very dynamic game. You need to adapt to each opponent individually. An all-in from one of the short stacks can be an easier decision to deal with than, say, an all-in from an equally large, 100 Big Blind stack. If you are good at reading opponents and their playing styles, this is the game for you.

Probably the biggest advantage of No Limit is that you can influence the game and force your opponents to make wrong decisions. This can be very expensive for them and profitable for you. Since you can always bet as much as you want, you can decide how much an opponent will have to pay to see the next card. This allows you to protect your hand and force your opponents to make costly mistakes.

You can see that No Limit has a mathematical component, but with more variables due to the unlimited range of bet sizes. For the pure mathematician, Fixed Limit is probably a better version of poker. For a player with a mathematic framework and good people skills, No Limit could be the way to go.


Your opponents can influence the game and force you to make wrong decisions, too. Sometimes you will be the one with a flush draw and your opponent will make a bet that is too large to call. Doing so would be a mistake and could cost you your entire stack. You won't find yourself in many difficult situations, but a single mistake can cost you dearly.

As you have already seen, your potential winnings/losses can be very large in No Limit Hold'em. If you don't feel comfortable risking large sums of money on a single hand, Fixed Limit might be the better option for you.

Unfortunately, you will not encounter as much action as you will in Fixed Limit games. No Limit is a game of patience. You will fold a lot of hands while waiting to catch a good one. And sometimes you wake up with pocket aces in the Big Blind and pray for someone to start raising, only to see everyone fold. You need a lot of patience to play No Limit. If you get bored and start playing with weak hands you are guaranteed to lose.

Sit and Goes - Tournament Poker

When we talk about Sit and Goes (SnG), we mean No Limit tournaments. You may think this is basically the same as a No Limit cash game, but they are played in a very different manner.

In a SnG, you pay a fee called the buy-in, which is essentially just an entrance fee to the table. Each player's buy-in is put into a prize pool, from which a certain number of players are paid out (for example, the top 3 in a 9 player SnG). Each player begins the tournament with the same amount of chips. When a player loses all of those chips, he is removed from the table and that seat remains empty. The tournament is played until one player has won.

Unlike a cash game, in a Sit and Go players gradually leave the table and do not come back. In addition, SnGs do not have fixed blinds. Instead, the blinds continue to rise over the course of the tournament. You can't afford to sit back and wait for a good hand.

Your ultimate goal is to finish in first place, but the first goal is to outlast your opponents until you are in the money (you are guaranteed a payout). You should be very thrifty, since you can't buy new chips in the middle of the tournament. SnGs are becoming more and more popular; they are like a quick version of the WSOP.


At the beginning of a SnG, you have the same amount of chips as your opponents. Each player therefore has an equal chance of winning (well, you have an edge since you follow a strategy).

Sit and Goes can be approached with the Independent Chip Model (ICM). The ICM is a mathematical assistant for the SnG player to make appropriate decisions. If you learn how to use this system, you will find yourself in the money more often.

Later stages of a SnG are often defined by frequent all-ins. You may see players push all their chips into the pot in nearly every single round. If you like the thrill of being all-in, then SnGs might be the variant for you!

Sit and Gos are currently quite popular; you can always find a game to play. SnGs also tend to attract a lot of bad players, so you should be able to make a profit.

In a Sit and Go, you stand to benefit from the poor play of your opponents more than in the other variations we have discussed. When two players go all-in versus each other, you end up moving one place closer to the money. When this action is repeated over the course of a game, it becomes possible that you can make the money without playing a single hand. You have to play to win in a cash game.

Finally, there is the financial aspect of a Sit and Go. You make, relatively speaking, the most profit in SnGs. You can, for example, win $50 with a $10 buy-in. You can try turning $10 into $50 in a cash game in such a short time, but you'll probably fail.

You are often all-in in the late stages of the tournament. Even if you follow the Independent Chip Model and always play with an advantage, you can hit a streak of bad luck and lose one all-in after the other. You can lose a fair amount of your bankroll in a bad downswing.

You can't leave a SnG when you run out of time, either. If you do leave, you forfeit your entire buy-in. So, if you would like to play a SnG, you need to be sure you have enough time to devote to the entire game. In general, you can gauge the amount of time required based on the number of players and how quickly the blinds increase. On average, you should expect to devote about 30-40 minutes to each SnG.

Once you reach a certain limit, you will encounter many good, regular players over and over. You can avoid playing against the good opponents in a cash game, but there's no way around going head to head with them in a SnG.

Another disadvantage: The fees for playing in low limit SnGs are often very high. Some poker rooms take as many as 10-20% of the buy-in. But don't worry too much. These fees will decrease as you make your way up the limits.

Fixed Limit Hold'em

Fixed Limit is the original form of Hold'em poker. As the name suggests, the bet sizes are fixed. You can make so-called Small Bets in the first two betting rounds (or raise by that same amount), and Big Bets (1 Big Bet =2 Small Bets) in the last two betting rounds.


Any beginner interested in Fixed Limit games needs a working strategy. The strategy you can learn at PokerStrategy.com will help you make a profit from the very beginning. Soon you will make your way up the limits and start playing for not so small amounts of money.

Fixed Limit is not only good for beginners because it can be learned quickly, but because the fixed bet size limits the amount you can lose in any one hand. You can't go broke in the first hand, even if you try.

You also get more action in Fixed Limit Hold'em. Your bet or raise is often not enough to force a fold, since your opponents can usually make a profitable call from a mathematical point of view.

If you like action in your game and betting on several streets, Fixed Limit could be the game for you. Just remember you are more likely to go to the showdown, so you need a hand that can win.

What many Fixed Limit players find interesting is the fact that you can make a mathematical analysis of any situation, since you know how large the bets can/will be. A relatively simple mathematical formula can tell you whether or not you can expect to make a profit by making a certain decision in a given situation (the expected value, or EV). You basically calculate the amount you could expect to win or lose on average with your decision.

Pot odds is a term you will become more and more familiar with and first encounter in the Bronze articles. Comparing your odds to the pot odds is a fairly quick and easy way to decide if staying in the hand will be profitable (almost always when you have a draw). You can always know whether you should fold your flush draw, or see if you can complete on the turn or the river. As you may already imagine, players who can make a calm, mathematical analysis of the hand do best in Fixed Limit Hold'em.

If you don't feel comfortable putting large amounts of money at risk, Fixed Limit could be the right game for you. You can stay calm knowing in the back of your mind that you can't lose a fortune on a single hand.


The basic Fixed Limit strategy is easy to learn, but that's only one side of the coin. You may get a feel for the game and starting making a profit from the very beginning, but it will take you a lifetime to truly master the game. The reason is: There are so many decisions to be made in each betting round, you won't be able to make the right decision all the time and you will lose money too. The good news is that you won't lose as much as you probably would if you were in a No Limit game.

Another disadvantage is the limited bet size. If you have a good hand, like a pair of aces, and the flop has two cards of the same suit, chasing a flush is often a profitable venture for your opponent because you just can't bet enough to make him fold.

With the fixed bet amount, your opponent can calculate the probability that one of his outs will hit and compare the odds to the pot odds to decide whether or not calling will be profitable (just like you would do if you had the flush draw). He will call if he has positive expected value. Defending your made hands can be very difficult, since you can rarely make a bet large enough to make an opponent with a draw fold.

Rake is a small fee deducted from the pot by the poker platform (nearly every hand). Most sites have a higher rake in Fixed Limit games than in other variations. Breaking near even at the tables often results in net losses.


You now have seen the pros and cons of the various types of Texas Hold'em. There are many differences between the three, each with unique advantages and disadvantages. There is no "best" one.

Don't decide on a game based on the amount you can win. Select the variation that is the most fun. You will be spending a lot of time learning the theory behind the game.

You can learn more about each game by reading other strategy articles. Take a look and see which one you find most appealing. After all, poker should be fun. And don't forget, you can always change to another game if you get in a rut and aren't having any fun.


Comments (16)

#1 007raise, 23 Aug 09 22:38

Handy even for an experienced player... not that I am lol

#2 hahahihi, 05 Sep 09 14:34

i like SnG most.... i just won 21$ on with a 3$ buy-in and i think i'm pretty good.... see you at the WSOP! :D

#3 farbwenz, 04 Jan 10 14:41

First of all, I'd like to say that this article was really helpful for deciding which way to play(by the way, it should perhaps not be hidden in "others", but get its own place on top of the page:-) ).

I have never played for real money, so I am not used to this rake system, clearing bonusses etc.It doesn't mean I'm a complete newbie to poker/Internet-poker though^^ I decided for trying the SNG's, I wonder whether it's really a good place to start playing for money...

So i've got some stupid questions regarding clearing the bonus and the rake system I don't know whereelse to put:

1. If the buy-in is 10% in a 5$-SNG , does it mean, that I collect points worth 50 rake-cents?

2. Is it even worth thinking about clearing this bonus? the amounts of rake sound quite high for me^^ how much can an average player expect to clear, playing on low limits and only one table at once?

3. I wrote that I only used playing money since now, is the game with real money easier(many ppl. who think poker is just about luck, perhaps coming from the games section of bwin), harder (many experienced ppl. who actually try to gain money) or just a completely different way of playing?

#4 Koshburger, 16 Jan 10 10:31


#5 Rap1d007, 05 Mar 10 21:32

Great article before starting playing poker.

#6 Salivanth, 06 Mar 11 09:43

Even though farbwenz has probably learnt the answer to his questions now, I shall answer them for other newbies:

1: Yes, in a $5 + 0.50 SNG, you earn Strategy Points equal to 50 cents of rake. Tournament fees are the rake in tournaments.

2: That's pretty hard to say, I'm afraid. Playing one table at a time does mean you won't clear much unless you play a lot: But at low limits, it's about learning and increasing your bankroll, not trying to make money to cash out.

3: The game with real money is far harder, though if you are willing to work a bit, you can beat the micro stakes pretty easily. With play money, nobody cares. You'll get people who don't care about real money and don't even try to play well, but they are far less frequent.

#7 visionvictory, 04 Jul 11 21:45

farbwenz and Salivanth, interesting comments, thanks.

#8 LimburgCwboy, 19 Aug 11 08:43

One thing I'd like to add to the SnG section.
In the article, SnG's are referred to as being only Single Table Tournaments (STT), however ...
you also have the MTT (Multi Table Tournaments).
In these you pay the same entry fee (f.e. $1 or $5) but you play with/against a total of 200, 2000 or 5000 other players.
This means the total prize-money is a LOT higher then in STT's.
Generally the top 14% of the total players are ITM (In The Money). This means that with f.e. 200 players, 28 will get paid. The lowest places, generally double up your Buy-In.
This type of SnG's can be VERY lucrative for your BankRoll.

In MTT SnG's, try to avoid Rebuy-ones, IMO (and experience) you will be playing not as tight as normally necessary, because you know you can Rebuy anyway.
Just go for the normal ones: Broke = Out, in some sites called 'Freezeout' tournaments, in other ones it is not mentioned specifically.

#9 Huckebein, 19 Aug 11 11:53

Nice comment Limburgcwboy

#10 rabbitok, 28 Apr 14 02:28

Excellent article, Much Appreciated

#11 toske1, 13 Mar 15 18:36


#12 mirth, 28 Mar 15 17:18

i will start playing more sng's. have recently been having a good bit of luck there, so may be a good way to temper my swings in nlh.

#13 PokerDreams15, 29 Jun 15 11:45

Very nice article, I finally know now why SNGs are the best for me :-)

#14 bubamarasr, 22 Jan 16 23:00

Read it. Thank you.

#15 hassux, 25 Jan 16 21:33

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#16 CroZoZo, 26 Apr 16 13:24