Advance praise for No Limits:
Not only do Wallace and Stemple provide copious portions of theory to support their teachings, they augment it with example after example of poker hands, annotated to explain why the authors recommend the courses of action they choose. And like magic, the light at the end of the tunnel illuminates all the dark and weighty mysteries surrounding no-limit hold'em. For the beginner and experienced player alike, it's all you wanted to know about how to beat online and casino no-limit hold'em cash games but were afraid to ask.
—Lou Krieger, best-selling author of Hold'em Excellence and 52 Great Poker Tips: At Home, Tournament and Online
Chris differentiates this book from most others: "I will be teaching you how to think about the concepts involved in no-limit." That's exceptionally important because no-limit requires a fundamentally new thinking about the game. If you want to think like a winning no-limit player, this book will help you immensely.
Chris's ideas are always right on the money.
—John Wenzel, Editor, Poker Pro Magazine
Table of Contents
- Preface: How to Use This Book
- Chapter 1. Pre-Flop Play
- Chapter 2. How Does It Play?
- Chapter 3. Knowing Your Opponents
- Chapter 4. Bet-Size: The Key to No Limit Holdem
- Chapter 5. The Importance of Position
- Chapter 6. The Flop, Turn, and River
- Chapter 7. Bluffing Strategy and Tips
- Chapter 8. Hand Reading
- Chapter 9. Bankroll Management
- Chapter 10. Short-Handed Play
- Chapter 11. Tilt and the Psychological Side of Things
- Chapter 12. Keys to Online Play
- Chapter 13. Common Mistakes
- Chapter 14. Why the Donkey is Whipping You
- Chapter 15. More Sample Hands
- Chapter 16. Final Words
- Appendix A: Continued Study
- Appendix B: Should You Go Pro?
- Appendix C: I Want to Play Like That Guy
The Preface: How to Use This Book (full)
There is no simple system for playing in a no-limit holdem cashgame. It is one of the most complex games in the world; the situations are too fluid, the decisions too interdependent, for me—or anyone—to give you the means to play the game by rote. In order to play well, you must learn how to think about the game. You must learn to recognize that no hand is good or bad in and of itself; everything depends on your opponents, your odds, and above all else...
Because that's what it comes down to. You don't get style points for fancy plays or a refund for having the best hand preflop. The only thing you can win or lose is money. If you keep this in mind and can be flexible in your game, treating each decision with equal importance and considering only the expected profit or loss from every choice, you will be a fearsome player.
The fluid nature of no-limit cash play is the primary reason there have been so few books written about it. As complex as tournament poker can be, it is much easier to teach. Fixed-limit holdem can be a very tough game to beat, but most of the correct plays become obvious to an expert player, and many of them can be memorized. No-limit simply cannot be taught that way. Instead, I will be teaching you how to think about the concepts involved in no-limit, and using hand examples to show how and why they work. Every situation is different, but once you understand what you are trying to accomplish with every action you take, the game gets easier.
The hand examples are an important part of the book, and studying them closely will be the fastest way to develop a good feel for the concepts behind them. I include examples from many different levels so hopefully everyone will feel that the game they play in is well represented. The concepts I teach will apply to every game, whether you play in a home game for nickels and dimes or head out to Vegas for some of the biggest games in the world.
Reading the book straight through from cover to cover would be best, but feel free to skip around if you like. It all works together and the order in which you learn things is not as important as learning each concept completely. But remember, the sum of the parts is greater than the whole and understanding the entire book is the only way to make that mesh strong enough to hold up.
Be wise, be cautious, be fearless. And read on.
Chapter 4—Bet-Sizing: The Key to No-Limit (partial)
The first thing to consider when you are betting is what you hope to accomplish. If you think about how to achieve your goals with your bets, your bet sizes will keep you out of trouble. Hopefully, after reading the preceding chapter, you have a good idea what you want to do with your hand and what you would like your opponents to do with theirs. Let's look at all of the things you need to consider before we start to put them together.
How many chips do you have, and how many chips do your opponents have?
If one of you is short-stacked, you will have less room to maneuver and that will need to figure into your decision. Often this comes down to putting the short stack all-in, whether it's you or your opponent. If you are holding a very strong hand, and one of you is short-stacked, then you can check for a round or two or make small bets in an effort to get all the chips in the middle. If the stacks are both fairly deep then your thinking will have to be more complex.
Do have a read on the situation or do you need some information?
If you have a pretty good read on your opponent's range of hands, then you can develop a plan. If you are uncertain about your opponent's possible holdings you may need to decide which bet will get you the information you need without giving up value or giving away too much about your own hand. If you need to learn something about your opponent's hand, you want to make sure your bet is not wasted. In some cases a bet on the flop will scare away an opponent who has nothing, while in other cases it is better to check-raise, even with nothing at all in your own hand. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that it will answer your questions and keep you out of trouble.
What do you know about your opponent?
Are they aggressive? Loose? Are there certain bets they tend to raise or do they always fold to a check-raise unless they have the nuts? Against aggressive opponents the check-raise is a strong play, especially in situations where your hand is vulnerable and you think you are ahead. With top pair a big raise will scare out opponents who are very aggressive. If you face a big reraise, your hand is usually beat and you can fold knowing you showed enough strength to force your opponent to define their hand and got away from it once they showed you that you were behind.
What do you want?
The Rolling Stones were right when they sang "You can't always get what you want" and it's vital to remember that sometimes a pot just isn't yours and there is no way to change that. If you can't win a showdown, and a bluff won't succeed, then you just have to let it go and don't throw money away trying to win it. It's common for players who have just learned how to win pots with aggression to overuse it and try to run over every table and win every pot they play. Don't make this mistake—it's expensive!
In order to maximize your win rate, you'll need to start off by thinking about what you want to achieve. If you have the nuts, you obviously want to get all of the chips in the middle. If you have a busted flush draw on the river, then you want your opponent to fold. There are lots of spots in between, and the things we've built on in this book should help you decide what it is you want.
How do you get it?
Getting what you want requires that you know your opponents and how they will react to your bets, paying attention to board texture, and knowing how the other players in the hand view you. If your value bet is too obvious, they won't pay you off, and if your bluff doesn't tell a believable story they will call it far too often. The hand examples will talk more about these ideas and how to tell a believable bluff or make a value bet look weak.
Against a solid opponent you will want to play a much safer game with your bet sizes, keeping the pot small with your medium strength hands and taking your draws for free when you have position. You may need to protect your chips by putting them in the middle as well. A large bet early can force your opponent to define his hand before you end up getting all your chips involved over the course of multiple betting rounds.
Remember to think about what you want and how to get it. Consider what you know about the hand and the opponent and whether you can actually get what you want. It's also important to think ahead—all the way to the end of the betting—and plan ahead so that your story will play out exactly as you want it to. Many of these concepts are more clear within hand examples, so we'll get right to them.
A Hand Sample
I was impressed that unlike other poker primers which focus on rote memorization and what do with x cards in y situation, No Limits focuses more on the situation and its impact on the hand.
Mathematical scenarios like bluffing are explained with both algebraic equations and simple fractions, allowing players of all backgrounds to be able to grasp the concepts presented.
Wallace has been an online poker player since it began and is one of the most respected poker authors alive today...If the book reaches similar heights of some of Wallace's previous work then it could be a Christmas must-have for any aspiring poker player.
If you've mastered the basics of No Limit Holdem, but you're still suffering from making 1-2 small mistakes every session this book will really help you out. It's a huge book packed with tons of chapters on different situations that you'll encounter and how you can make the best of them.
...their approach to starting hand selection is clear and precise and makes sense. The section on bankroll management stands out as especially needed. But showing you how to go through the process of putting your opponent(s) on a hand makes this book really stand out.
Why Do I Need this No Limit Poker Book?
Fox wrote this book to help you understand how, rather than what, to think about no-limit. Understanding the factors that influence your decisions and how to weigh them is the only way to become a truly great no-limit player. It is certainly possible to become a winning player, even a fairly good player, by trying to memorize the correct plays and the advice you hear at the tables, but you will never really understand the game if you don't understand the fundamentals.
This book, geared toward low and middle limit games both live and online, can help you do just that. If you constantly find yourself in tough spots, uncertain about how to proceed, this is the book for you. If you find that you cruise along nicely in most sessions, only to lose one big pot that ruins your night, this book will help. And if you have trouble extracting value from your opponents, dealing with loose and aggressive players, or punishing opponents who chase too much, then the information contained within these pages can help.
There is no system; no-limit doesn't work that way. You have to think for yourself. Once you understand the fundamental concepts involved, you can use your talent and creativity to develop your own game.