A World Champion's perspective on poker: THERE’S NO LIMIT LIKE NO LIMIT

by Doyle Brunson [Originally appeared in Poker Player Vol 1 Issue 1 pg. 3]

  If I had to pick my favorite game, I guess it would be no-limit hold ’em. Poker is a game of people, and nothing brings this fact out as clearly as a no-limit confrontation.

 When you're playing limit poker-even a big limit game like $200/400-you never have to face the fear of a man jumping up from out of nowhere and moving all-in against you. You can bet $400 on the last card knowing that worst thing-the VERY worst thing-that can happen is you'll get raised another $400.

 If you've got some middling hand when that raise comes, then you've got to make a decision about whether to call or fold. That decision, though, doesn’t pack the same agony that arises in a no-limit situation when you bet $400 and suddenly are facing a $5000 raise.

 Even so, there are LEVELS of no-limit games and most folks don't take this into account. For instance, if you begin with very small antes and blinds-say a total of a dollar-then your no-limit game is going to be pretty small. After all, you have to make bets that seem reasonable when measured against how much money is in the pot. In a small game you might open for $1, get raised $3 and reraise $5. That would be a considerable amount of action, but still the pot would be a down-to-earth size.

 Suppose the total blinds and antes added up to $1000. Now your no-limit game has some size to it. You open for a thousand, get raised $3000 and raise back $5000. You're looking at a hold’em pot that’s up near $20,000 before the flop. The previous sum (when the blinds added up to just $1) was under $20. The ACTION was the same in both games, the AMOUNTS were different.

 Why is this discussion important? Well, a few weeks back, I saw this kid pass up a small no-limit game to sit in a $30-limit seven-stud game. His entire bankroll was $1000. He lost it in about twenty minutes. As they were leaving the cardroom, his girlfriend tugged him by the sleeve and glanced over at the nolimit-game. There must have been about three hundred on the table, total, and everyone looked like they were having a good time.

 “How come you didn't play in THAT game?" she asked.

 “That’s no limit!" he grumbled. “I couldn't afford it.”

 Strangely, that's the attitude a lot of folks have, because the term “no limit” carries a healthy wallop. A rational man should simply check the size of the blinds and the size of the antes (if any) and weigh that against the bulge in his wallet. Nolimit is a TYPE OF POKER not a SIZE OF GAME.

 DOYLE “Texas Dolly” BRUNSON is regarded as the best natural poker player alive. ln l976 and 77 he won back-to-back nationally televised world championships at Binion’s Horseshoe Club, Las Vegas. In 1982 he became the first professional to win over $1,000,000 in total prize money in national tournaments.

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