Last night I played a ring game at the local card room. They only were spreading a $3-$6 limit game. Everything else was no limit.
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I enjoy limit poker. And I miss the fact that limit poker tournaments are essentially gone. The fact is that there is a lot of skill at limit events but players today are in love no limit events.
At this low limit ring game of $3-$6 many players will see a flop with a very wide range of hands. Hands like Q-4 suited or J-7 suited are hands that players will limp into the pot pre-flop hoping to get lucky. I think it is a losing play.
The low limit cash games tend to be loose and passive. Given this fact I adjust my play accordingly.
If I have a big hand that is unsuited like K-Q. I want to raise and re-raise pre-flop to get players to fold.
Hands that are suited are good to play if they are connectors even as low as 2-3. But I won't play Q-4 or J-7 even to limp into a pot. The only exception is if I've won the last two or more hands--I like to play my rushes.
On the flop, if a raise will get players to fold, definitely raise. In limping games, some players will call no matter what and others will fold. Sometimes it depends if a player has been winning or losing.
If you take the lead pre-flop with a raise, you should bet the flop, turn and even the river--if you don't get played back on the earlier streets and you are certain your opponents are drawing. This is one of the key ways to bluff at a pot with nothing in a low level cash game.
Another common way to bluff at a low limit cash game is to check-raise the turn when a scare card hits. However, since pots are large on the turn, you will often get called down in today's game.
Sometimes you have to call a turn bet because the pots are big, and it is only $6 more to try to hit a winning card on the river.
Look for tells. Players at lower levels do not notice that they give the strength of their hands away by their actions. A player who is quiet, and now is talking is strong. Just fold your top pair.
Here is a hint at finding tells: A hand goes to the river and you notice a betting action your opponent takes you have not noticed before. If he wins the hand take a picture in your mind of that action. Try to get a confirmation that the player does it more than once. Make sure you notice the cards he shows down to determine how he played his hand.
I will notice this action heads-up against an opponent and at first, I have no clue what it means. For example, I may notice my opponent tossed his chips into the pot on the river when his prior bets he placed them inside the line. I will call his river bet even though I will lose. The reason is that I can now use that tell to determine how to play against him next time.
Since it is very difficult to notice these tells for all your opponents, just watch one or two players who tend to be most active at the table. The reason is that you will end up playing against these players more often.
The first hand I was dealt A-5 suited. Two opponents called, one raised, and on the cutoff I called knowing that I was going to get at least three opponents.
The flop came Ace high, and the raiser bet. I called. The other players folded.
My opponent bet the turn and river. I called and won the hand. He had pocket Queens and never slowed down.
The next hand I was deal 8-9 suited of diamonds. Four players limped. I limped as well. The flop came 5-6-2 with one diamond. One player bet and we all called. I called since the pot was big and I had won the last hand. The turn was a J of diamonds. The same player bet. The other players folded. Since the pot was big, I called. The river was a 7 of clubs. My opponent bet and I raised. I won the pot with my straight..lol.
The third hand I was dealt 5-3 suited of spades. Since I had won the first two hands I was going to play any two cards. The flop came with two spades. I raised on the flop and got 4 callers. On the turn I missed my flush, but I hit my 5 so I bet again. I got 2 callers. On the river, the flush card hit. I bet and I got check raised. Uh oh, with a flush on the board and a check raise my 5 high flush didn't look too good. However, the pot was big and if I'm wrong that I'm beat, it would be a disaster.
I called. My opponent hit a straight on the river, and did not expect me to have a flush since I bet the turn.
The fourth hand I played Q-3 offsuit. I was playing my rush. The flop came Q high and everyone checked. The turn was a rag and I bet. I got one caller. The river was another rag. There was no draw I could see at the end, so I checked the river. My opponent checked. He had K-Q and won.
That ended my 3 hand rush.
After a little over an hour I was ahead $80--and the game was down to just 5 players. I left...I didn't feel that the game was about to go my way.
I hope my guidelines are helpful to you.