A new game form
Over the years, there has been a lot of debate over which form of hold'em is the best test of players. This column introduces a new form of hold'em that I call mixed hold'em. Mixed hold'em is simple at its core, but would completely change the action of play, creating a lot of excitement for players and audiences alike. Before discussing this new form, let's look a little at the current debates in the poker world over the different forms of hold'em.
Many have argued that pot-limit hold'em is the best test and should be used more frequently for major tournaments. Despite this argument, no-limit is by far the most popular form of hold'em played in tournaments, and is more popular than ever in cash games.
Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of each of the current forms of hold'em.
Creates a lot of multiway pots and post-flop action. The main criticism of limit hold'em is that it is difficult to protect your hand. In regard to television, limit hold'em isn't very exciting, since the drama of all-in bets is missing.
Allows for more flops than no-limit, especially in tournaments, where players often must resort to preflop all-in moves to survive the increasing blinds. By allowing pot-size bets, players can better protect their hands post-flop than in limit hold'em. One drawback of pot-limit hold'em is that dealers are not always proficient in counting the size of the pot, which can sometimes slow down play.
Creates a lot of excitement and drama for television. The main problem with no-limit hold'em is that players can push all in frequently before the flop, which sometimes results in a boring game. Better players excel in post-flop play, so no-limit hold'em also reduces the gap in skill level between the professional and amateur player (this can be either a good or bad thing, depending on your perspective).
Mixed hold'em is simply a combination of the three games above. Before the flop, you play limit; on the flop, you play pot-limit; and on the turn and river, you play no-limit. This would basically create a lot of post-flop action, which is great for the players and fun, and would create more interesting hands for television.
Tournaments currently reward players for their preflopskills. Mixed hold'em would reward players for their post-flop skills. Given that preflop action is limit and the bets can go way up after the flop, there will be a lot of incentive to see flops. However, once players get to the flop, they can start protecting their hands by using pot-size bets, but must tread carefully due to the threat of no-limit bets on upcoming streets. Once players get to the turn, all-in bets are permitted, giving the game the drama of all-in bluffs and calls, putting players to the test with difficult decisions.
One problem with this game, however, is that too many players could see the flop when the players have deep stacks. A potential solution is to raise the preflop limit raise to three times the big blind. For example, if the blinds were 100-200, the initial raiser could raise to 600, and any subsequent raises would be an additional 600. Try mixed hold'em in your next home game, and send me an e-mail at mchilger@InternetTexasHoldem.com to let me know what you think.
This article first appeared in Card Player magazine.
Matthew is the owner of Dimat Enterprises, “Publishing Today’s Best Poker Books”. The Math of Hold’em by Collin Moshman and Douglas Zare is available now at pokerbooks.InternetTexasHoldem.com.