Option 1Now is the time to tell you that if you introduce NLH to your own home poker game, watch out! The money won and lost can escalate pretty quickly. Before long, the size of the pots will be more than you bargained for. As a brake against this tendancy I reccommend that you introduce NLH in a â??cash-downâ? format, which allows people to take a portion of their chips off the table at a certain peredetermined chip total.

For example, you could require everyone to keep at least $50 in chips in play (making that the maximum they could lose in one pot), but allow them to take off the money above that amount. If someone wins $110 pot, he can remove $60 in chips and put it in his pocket while keeping $50 in play in front of himself. In this way, the stakes wonâ??t go up and up and up after a few hours ofNLH plays, as they usually do.

This system also allows the players to play an amount they feel comfortable with. You might have two business owners keeping $2,000 apiece in front of themselves, and a couple of other players with only $70 each in fron of themselves. Itâ??s also possible that one player has a mere $17 left, because he started with $50 but lost down to this point.

How does the pot work if the two $2,000 players move all-in along with the $17 player on the same hand? The player with $17 is entitled to $17 each from the big stacks if he wins the pot. His money is matched by both opponents. In fact, the $17 player may well make a straight flush and lament the fact that he won only a $51 pot! Meanwhile, the nearly $4,000 side pot may be won by a player holding merely top pair! Ironically the straight flush wins $51, but one pair wins a $3,949 side pot on the same hand.

If someone starts with $50 and loses $20 in one hand, he can play the $30 until he goes broke. Again, the cash-down format also allows some of your richer friends (â??big dogsâ?) to leave a lot more money in front of them. So two of the big dogs could play as big a pot as they want to between themselves, while the little dogs have all-in protection for their money. All â??in protection simply means that if you have $38 in front of you, then you can win all the money in front of each opponent up to $38 each (each opponent matches your $38). No matter what you saw in the entertaining but extremely inaccurate move Big Hand for the Little Lady, in any poker game you canâ??t be forced out of a pot because someone else has more money on the table than you do.

NLH is the game in the poker world right now. One reason is that it opens up poker and offers the possibility of making more challenging â??moves.â? You can now make bluffs that have teeth. If you smell weakness in someone, you can raise him right out of the pot even if youâ??re weak. You can now bet so much money on your drawing hand that you will force your opponent to fold! NLH is poker at its best, because you donâ??t necessarily have to hold or make a lot of good hands to come out a winner. You can win pots with your reads and understanding your opponents. Itâ??s a bit like playing chess with a sledgehammer!


by Phil Hellmuth, Jr.

Phil Hellmuth Jr. is a 13-time World Series of Poker Champion, leading all other poker players in the world. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, and his latest book, â??Deal Me In,â? is also widely popular. Visit philhellmuth.com to check out his clothing line, blog and exclusive gaming tips.