ExpandingYour Horizons Beyond NL Hold’em and PLO

2 months ago
ExpandingYour Horizons Beyond NL Hold’em and PLO
01 Apr

It’s no secret that the last decade of poker has almost exclusively been about NL hold’em and PLO, whether in tournament or cash game format. After Black Friday upended the poker scene in April 2011 the love for mixed poker games died a death almost overnight.

It looked as if the HORSE or 8-game tables were a particular favourite of the American poker community, and many of us expected them to disappear for good, but fortunately they can still be found on some sites. There are as many as 24 different poker games, so no need to be sticking to just two.

The live fixed-limit games can also still be found around Las Vegas and Atlantic City too. In fact, they are still a staple of the high stakes community in Bobby’s Room at the Aria (or whatever they are calling it these days).

For this reason alone we should look more towards playing some volume in these now unfamiliar games. Variety is the spice of life.

Why Should You Give Fixed-Limit Games a Try?

Let’s face it, unless you have some serious ambition to reach high stakes one day then there is no reason to be grinding just one game and format for the rest of your life. Poker is our hobby and it’s supposed to be fun.

NL hold’em was given the moniker “The Cadillac of Poker” back in the day, and for good reason: it was the most technically interesting and exciting game we had. But as the game evolved new strategies didn’t appear at the same rate and people didn’t show the same interest. It kind of started to feel the same at the lower levels.

Some of those moved to PLO which was seen as a more exciting variant of NL hold’em, even if not technically as appealing. But, surprisingly, not so many players moved back towards fixed-limit games. There is very little up-to-date strategy information out on these games which makes them ideal for showing your talent without committing to countless hours of work from the last decade’s worth of GTO solver outputs.

Another great point about fixed-limit games is that they are seen as the best test of all-round poker skill. This is one of the reasons that Phil Ivey is still seen as the man to beat today, even if he is clearly not at the pinnacle of any particular game. To be the best today requires specialising in one format. It is nigh on impossible to compete at the very top of more than one game.

So, if you fancy playing against players who don’t know any strategy in a bunch of games then consider giving mixed games a try. It is almost certain that you will have an edge in the lower limits purely by learning the basics of every game in the rotation. Some players you will come up against will even make basic mistakes by not even knowing the rules properly.

There is also the novelty of playing without a HUD as apart from hold’em and PLO non exist on the regular market.

Mixed Games Tips

To start with, tight is right. Your opponents will have a tendency to overplay their hands because they simply don’t know any better.

Next job is to identify which games any opponents are weak in. In this day and age, unless you’re playing mid stakes plus you can guarantee that every player at the table will have an obvious exploitable weakness in some of the games.

It is important not to underestimate how difficult it is to bluff in fixed-limit games. Because the bets are usually so small compared to the pot on later streets it is impossible to price an opponent out.

If you can find games that are running then it is worth experimenting between HORSE and 8-game to see which offers the biggest edge. Maybe your edge in the big bet games makes it worth it to keep them in the rotation.


Mixed games are great fun, even if you think fixed-limit is less interesting than NL hold’em or PLO. Even if you have no intention to play much volume they can be a great way to pique your interest for your main game.

Who knows, maybe they will one day make a comeback into the mainstream if all of this GTO solver nonsense makes NL dry up somewhat.

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Mark from Stamford in the UK is a professional cash game player, and part time journalist. A massive chess fan and perpetual traveller.He also produces strategy content for our sister wesbite PokerVIP.com.Read more


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