Limit, No limit and Pot limit
Texas hold'em and other poker games are played with different kinds of betting structures. There are three categories: fixed limit, pot limit and no limit.
In fixed limit, or just limit, the sizes of the bets are fixed. In a game with the limit 1/2 the amounts of the bets are consequently 1 and 2 units (dollars, euros and so on). Before the flop and in the first betting round 1 unit in this case is the allowed bet size and in the next two rounds 2 units are the bet size. Besides these options, raises and re-raises of the same sizes can be done. There’s usually a maximum amount of allowed raises that can be done in one betting round.
What characterizes limit are the present of mathematical aspects. The reason for this is the fixed bet sizes which can be closely calculated. Pot odds are consequently very important here. You must be able to calculate the odds if you are going to be successful in limit cash games. That's not something that all players do, so if you become good on the odds, you can be profitable in limit games by mathematically outplay your opponents.
Another important thing that differs from no limit is the values of starting hands. As mentioned in the article about shorthanded and longhanded the starting hands value are relative and affected by the situation.
In limit games, the fixed bet sizes give special criteria for which cards you should play. You can’t force the opponents out of the pot with a big bet with 8-8, for example, which you may prefer in no limit games. In limit games, the low and middle pairs become to a certain degree speculative hands – you want to make a set. In other words play them if it’s not too costly and don’t automatically make raises with them, according to the fact that it’s cheap to call you.
You probably can guess which starting hands getting better in these conditions ... The connectors and suited hands as they can’t be "bought out". It doesn't necessarily mean that you want to call three bets with a 5-6 off suited. Like always, play sound and solid.
In no limit, you’re allowed to bet or raise in any size orders. If a player wants to bet all his chips before the flop, it's allowed. And you are always allowed to call a bet even if the size of the previous bet is bigger than the total amount of your chips.
If a limit game could be characterized by the influence of mathematics, a no limit game holds more psychological aspects. Pot odds are still critical knowledge, but the frequency of bluffing and often extravagant bluffing adds extra dimensions.
No limit is in a way more free than limit because you can choose exactly how much you want to bet all the time. This condition results in a faster game since the hand is already decided before the flop or just after the flop more often. Starting hands that need few cards to develop into strong hands will consequently become more valuable. These are pocket pairs and hands that contain high cards.
In pot limit, the highest allowed bet is always the same as all the chips in the pot. It means that the maximum bet will increase as the pot grows.
It can be said that the weaker player should choose pot limit instead of no limit because of the reason that he risk less money, at least in one hand. You could, on the other hand, argue that he rather should choose no limit because the possibility to make big bets in fewer pots that bring more influence of luck to the game.
A last word
Remember these distinctions when you play poker in different structures and adjust properly to each, and try out for yourself what you feel most comfortable with.