Limit Variants of Texas Hold'em

Poker offers a wide range of options. Even Texas Hold'em isn't always played the same way. On the one hand there are a number of different variants such as limit, pot-limit and no-limit. On the other hand, you can play either cash game or tournaments.

All of these options differ from one another and therefore require different strategic approaches. This article aims to describe the different types of hold'em mentioned above.

All limits have the same basic rules. The only difference lies in the betting amount limit.

Limit Hold'em (FL)

In Texas Hold'em there are four rounds of betting, the first after the cards have been dealt, the second after the flop, the third after the turn and the last one after the river has been dealt. In limit , the amounts that players can bet in the individual betting rounds are fixed.

For a better understanding of the following explanations, we first give you some definitions:

In the first two rounds of betting (pre-flop and on the flop) the amount that can be bet and the amount by which a bet can be raised is a small bet. In the last two rounds of betting (thus after the turn and river) the amount that can be bet and the amount by which a bet can be raised is a big bet. The size of the small and big bet can be derived from the name of the table. Limit 1$/2$ indicates for example that the small bet is 1$ and the big bet is 2$.

The blinds are based on the small bet. The big blind is the same as a small bet. The small blind is generally half of the big blind. Thus, in the above example the big blind is $1, and the small blind $0.50.

In each betting round a maximum of three raises is allowed, then we reach a so-called cap, i.e. no further raises are possible.



                                                                                PokerStars FL $1/$2 table


Each player has to buy in for a minimum of ten times the big blind, before he can play his first hand. In our example with the FL $1/$2 table, this means that a player has to buy in for at least $10. There is no maximum. Due to the fixed betting structures in limit hold'em, the value of twelve big bets (in this case S24) has become standard as a minimum that a player should have at a table in order to achieve maximum profit with a good hand and not to lose potential winnings due to a lack of chips.

No-Limit Hold'em (NL)

The variant no-limit Texas Hold'em is characterized by the fact that a player can bet all of his chips at any time, either before or on the flop, turn or river. This makes the game highly dynamic and exciting. That is why this type of poker is also known as "The Cadillac of Poker".


As in every type of poker, there are minimum requirements. This means, for example, that players have to bet at least the big blind or raise by at least double the amount bet by the previous player. So if a player bets $24 on the turn, a player who wants to raise has to bet at least $48. The size of the big blind gives the no-limit table its name. At a NL $1/$2 table $1/$2 no longer indicates the potential betting amounts; it indicates the size of the blinds. The smaller number displays the size of the small blind, the larger number the size of the big blind. All of the players in the hand have to buy in for a minimum amount of 20 big blinds. In a NL $1/$2 game you need to buy for at least $40 of chips in order to take part.


In contrast to limit hold'em, there is not just a minimum, but also a maximum buy in amount. which is usually 100 big blinds (so in our example this would be $200). In certain exceptional cases, e.g. at $0.02/$0.05, there are some deviations where a total of 200 big blinds is set as a maximum. Unlike online poker rooms, German casinos often do not have this limit.

Pot-limit Hold'em (PL)



The third variant is pot-limit Texas Hold'em, which involves elements from both fixed-limit and no-limit games. The maximum and minimum amount, with which you can buy in, are identical to those of no-limit hold'em. There are also similarities when it comes to betting – each player can bet any amount up to a certain limit, the amount currently in the pot, as long as he bets at least the size of the big blind. It is therefore possible to bet any amount at any point of time, but the amount may not exceed the amount in the pot. If the pot during a $1/$2 pot-limit game is just $40, a player can only bet between $2 (= a big blind) and $40 (=pot size) at that point.


Sit & Gos (SNGs) and other tournaments

Sit & Gos are tournaments in which the number of participants varies heavily. They range from small events with just two players to large tournaments with numerous tables and several hundred participants (multi table tournaments see below). Sit & Gos are available online around the clock and start as soon as the required number of participants has been reached. In contrast to this, tournaments, which have been stipulated before start at certain times, regardless of the number of participants.

Single-table tournaments (STTs)

Small tournaments consisting of just nine players, for example, are known as single-table tournaments and are usually played in the form of a Sit & Go. STTs are available in all of the different variants. In order to take part in one of these tournaments, each player buys a certain buy-in and receives a certain amount of chips in return. If you take part in a $10+$1 SNG ($10 buy-in with which the prices are financed and $1 rake, i.e. the fee retained by the casino), you will receive 1,500 start chips and have the opportunity to win $45 (50% of the prize pool) for coming in first, $27 (30 %) for coming in second or $18 (20 %) for finishing third. The payout structure is usually the same at all STTs. At PokerStars, the blinds usually increase every ten minutes.

Multi-table tournaments (MTTs)

MTTs are tournaments that take place at more than one table where the number of players varies greatly. At the weekly Sunday Million tournament, which takes place online at PokerStars, there are often several thousand participants, whereas a number of tournaments are played every day with "just" 18 players. The amount of starting chips varies from tournament to tournament, and is often dependent on the amount of the buy-in. MTTs are available almost all the time, either as a Sit & Go or as a tournament with a fixed starting time. The payout structure also depends on the number of players, because the more players take part, the more places are paid. Below is a table with the various payout structures ("entrants" = participants). The blinds increase differently depending on the tournament. In most cases they go up every 15 minutes, but at PokerStars there are also tournaments where they increase every five or 30 minutes.


Turbo SNGs and tournaments

Turbo SNGs and tournaments have a special status. There is basically only one difference to other tournaments, but it is a vital one – the blind levels are much shorter. In a turbo SNG, the blinds increase every five minutes instead of every ten or fifteen minutes. 

Choosing a game

In general all variants of Texas Hold'em can be played profitably. For this reason, it's recommended to choose a variant you have the most fun playing or are best at.

The right choice varies from one person to another, but you should consider the following points:

  • Limit is to a large extent more appropriate for beginners to learn hold'em, because possible losses (as well as winnings) are limited.
  • No Limit is due to the variability of bets more complex, so beginners tend to feel overstrained quickly.
  • In Pot-Limit there are less tables available that means it is more difficult to find an appropriate game.
  • Big tournaments offer the prospect of winning a lot of money. As a beginner, however, you will win a tournament very rarely, since every mistake could be punished with elimination.

All of the variants mentioned are available and played at PokerStars. The only exception is pot-limit hold'em, which is not offered, because there is not much demand for it.