Playing fixed-limit hold’em poker is quite different than playing no-limit and your game should be adjusted accordingly. One of the key factors, of course, is that when holding a strong hand, you are limited to the amount you can bet, which lends itself to being susceptible to players with drawing possibilities to continue playing and outdraw you. However, this can be either good or bad, depending upon your playing style. If you are raising and betting aggressively when holding strong hands, you will still be profitable in the long run against those fishy players who go all the way to the showdown hoping to catch one of their outs.
Keeping in mind that you are interested in long-term gains and will sometimes get sucked out on by players who continue calling the limited amount of wager, you will generally do fine at fixed limit if you adopt a tight-aggressive playing style. As such, starting hand selection is crucial and should most of the time be of the extremely tight variety. You can loosen up your range of starting hands in later positions. However, with the intricacies of the no-limit game gone, such as bluffing and using large bets and raises to take down pots, your ability to outplay your opponents in this fashion is greatly minimized.
Keeping your starting hand selection to high pairs and the A-K and A-Q variety, you will fare much better in the long run. However, small and mid-level pairs can be played pre-flop in hopes of hitting a set on the flop. But if your pocket 6′s don’t connect on a flop that shows a couple of overcards, it is important to muck your hand and not continue to chase a loser if opponents are betting. Some fixed-limit players are seemingly of the mindset that pocket pairs can be played all the way through to showdown since the betting is limited. Don’t believe it. The rules of pot equity still apply to the fixed-limit game. If you are drawing with only a couple of outs, it is still overwhelmingly a bad play to make to continue calling and chasing even though the betting may be somewhat small due to the imposed fixed limits.
Playing the tight-aggressive style means playing few starting hands, roughly 15% to 20% is generally seen as the correct amount. And when you’re playing about 1 of every 5 hands, you should normally be aggressive in those hands that you select to play. Typically, you want to be betting and raising in the hands you are involved in. There will be times that you only will call, such as the aforementioned case of hoping to flop a set with a low pair. But the vast majority of the hands you play should be done with raising in mind. The general premise is, if your selected hand is strong enough to play, it should also be worthy of a raise. Marginal or mediocre hands are seen as unprofitable and should usually be tossed.
If you’re playing online, one tip to keep in mind is to search for tables where players seeing the flop has a high percentage. This information is normally revealed at the top poker rooms next to the choices of tables available in the poker lobby. Ideally, if 30% or a higher percentage of players are seeing the flop, this is loose enough of a table where your tight-aggressive playing style should be profitable over the long haul. Remember, you will only be playing 15% to 20% of hands. This means that you can usually capitalize on your opponents having too great a range of starting hands. If you are at a table where all the players are playing as tight as you are, it will be hard to make any money.
As with no limit hold’em, you also have to read your opponents and get a feel for their playing styles and tendencies. If you see players playing too many starting hands and chasing draws to the river frequently, use that to your advantage. There are lots of online players at low fixed-limit tables who don’t play very well and routinely employ those fishy playing tactics. You will get sucked out and experience some bad beats at times because that is the nature of low fixed-limit games. However, by employing a tight-aggressive style and remaining calm and not going on tilt when a poor player who should have folded long ago catches his miracle card on the river, you can learn to be a successful fixed-limit hold’em player.