In 2003 the Poker Boom began and from my perspective it was simply amazing and changed my life in many ways. At the time, the main poker games for cash were limit hold ’em and seven-card stud which is also a limit game, while no-limit hold ’em was essentially only seen in poker tournaments. Yet when poker got on TV with the first broadcasts of the World Poker Tour, this was the game that was shown. No-limit hold ‘em, partly because of the all-in move, caught everyone’s imagination, and the great Poker Boom was built around it.
From my perspective and that of our company Two Plus Two, having no-limit hold ’em take off in the way it did was something incredibly positive, and I will always be thankful. But today my conclusion is the opposite. We need to see a return, at least to some degree, of the limit games.
Part of what’s wrong I think can be explained by an observation that is currently easy to see. In the limit hold ’em games, and this was also true of stud, there seem to be a number of mediocre players (relative to the stakes) who are around break even in their results. Some win a little and some lose a little, but what can be certain is that many of these players have been at the poker tables for years and years – in fact, I can name a few who have been around for 20 years or longer – and they help to start games and keep games going.
In no-limit hold ’em, players like this don’t seem to exist. You either play very well or very poorly. That is the “mediocre” players in no-limit will get crushed by the experts just like the tourist type player does. This is a problem, and one that should be long term bad for the future of no-limit hold ’em unless another great poker boom somehow occurs which brings in lots of new players in a short period of time.
So what’s the solution? Well, in my opinion, some of you may want to consider giving limit hold ’em and seven-card stud (where it still exists) a try. These games are highly beatable if you learn how to play well, and if you just become marginal, you should be able to play for years to come.
As for no-limit, it died out once before, and even though there are many differences between the games today and what was played years ago (and this Note will not get into these differences) my optimism for no-limit hold ’em as a successful long term cash game is small. So, that’s another argument for some of you to consider limit.