Many casinos around America are unable to offer no-limit games because of laws limiting the maximum size of any bet. If the law states that the largest bet legally allowed is $300, then the biggest limit game allowed is $150 – $300. With blinds of $75 and $150, this becomes a very expensive game to play and it rarely is offered in a reservation casino as a result.
Some casinos started offering spread limit games to give players an opportunity to experience the excitement that comes with big bet poker and make the game accessible to players with a limited bankroll or taking a break from the bingo hall. This format combines elements of no-limit and limits betting structures. A $2 – $20 spread limit Texas Hold’em game, for example, allows players to bet any amount from $2 to $20 on each street.
Some of the bet sizing strategies that are applied in no-limit games are useful in spread limit. Making large bets to induce an opponent with a marginal hand to fold, for instance. Tactics like controlling the size of the pot are often easier to accomplish in a spread limit game as opposed to a limit game.
The spread limit also establishes a maximum bet amount just as limit structures do. This enables players who prefer to play a mathematical game to make many of the calculations more easily. Implied odds, for instance, are much easier to figure out with a predefined upper limit for each round of betting.
There are people who argue that spread limit games are bad for poker. They contend that many of the strategies and habits players develop playing spread limit have a detrimental impact on their play when returning to limit or no-limit games. Here are a couple of examples of what they are talking about:
Spread limit games induce players to widen their starting hand requirements because the blinds are so low. $1 and $2 in a $2 – $20 game. When players move back to limit games, they tend to play far too many hands.
Because there is no threat of facing an all-in bet on any street, it is easier to take a card off on the flop or turn. In no-limit games, players tend to stick with drawing hands for far too long.
In both cases, this has a negative impact on the player’s expected hourly earnings.
These opponents of spread limit games forget that similar issues often occur when players move between limit and no-limit games or from a tournament to a cash game. Unlike the player who has no influence over the outcome, successful poker players must adapt to the situation at hand.
Overall, the spread limit is good for poker. It provides players with an opportunity to develop their reading skills more deeply than limit poker. Calculations are still impacted by psychology but the variance from this is more limited than in no-limit, allowing players to hone their math skills. Most importantly, spread limit games provide much of the same excitement no-limit games do without putting a player’s entire stack at risk for every single hand.