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Limit Hold'em Myths
With online poker’s popularity explosion, NL Holdem became the king of the virtual green felt, relegating the good old fixed limit version of the game to sidekick status. Still, one must not forget that Limit Holdem is the original starting point in the game’s evolution and that there used to be very solid reasons behind its popularity. It is still the preferred betting structure of most casinos, because it allows beginners to amass some short-term winnings and it keeps them from busting out within a couple of hands, which means they’ll stick around and generate more poker rake for the house.
Online though, there are apparently countless haters of this battle-tested betting structure. I’d dare assume though that most of these haters are NL Holdem players who may have tried FL at one point or another, but who never took the time to study and to really get to know the game. Most of the haters’ arguments are therefore based on false beliefs and myths.
Poker Myth About Pocket Aces
One such myth is the one surrounding pocket rockets. All FL haters, quite probably without exception, will tell you that pocket rockets are no good in FL games because of the inability of the player to protect them. I’ll be frank. A few years ago I used to subscribe to the same theory myself, but I’m not the kind of pig-headed NL junkie who cannot be convinced through math and reason, and nowadays I know better. I also came to understand why NL players feel like their rockets are not good at the FL tables.
If you play at an 8-handed table, and you pick up pocket rockets, your hand will be a 28.4% favorite to win, provided you go up against the worst possible (the worst from your perspective of course) selection of non-random hands like K,K, Q,Q, A,K, a small pocket pair, a suited connector and a suited one-gapper. In reality, you’ll seldom have your rockets staring down such fierce competition, so your odds for winning will be around 31%.
What that means in layman’s terms is that on average, when you pick up pocket rockets, you win once in every 3 tries. That’s right, you lose more times than you win, and that there is the very source of the myth.
There are two sides to every coin though, and in poker one cannot afford to be near sighted. While you will lose once on every 3 tries, the one time you win, you’ll get 8-1 for your money.
Please remember that the original complaint was about how one couldn’t protect his rockets because all the opponents would call him anyway. That’s the reason why you get 8-1 on your money. Suppose you invest 1 unit of money on every one of your rockets. That’s a 3 unit investment. You lose 2 units, and you pick up 8. That leaves you with a pretty handsome investment.
If there are fewer players at your table, your money return rate takes a hit, but your odds grow. If you go up against 3 players holding random hands, your odds will grow from 31% to around 64%, so the value remains. Therefore, my recommendation is that you should do your best to stuff that pot when you pick up rockets. You may not win each and every showdown, but in the end you will walk away with a handsome profit.
In addition to all that, pocket rockets do not carry the risk of felting you in case of a loss in limit Holdem. You will live to stuff another pot and you will get you money eventually.
What about the poker rake that you pay? You pay more of that in Limit Poker, right? Because you stay in the game longer, you pay more rake too. Just sign up for a rakeback deal, or better still: a poker prop deal, and the poker rake will lose its bite before you know it.
My viewpoint: In low limit hold'em games, you will often get multiple opponents wanting to see a flop. With pocket Aces you should be raising and re-raising pre-flop. I believe it is clearly the best strategy. FYI: In my last $6-$12 session at the club, I was dealt pocket Aces three times in three hours. I lost every time--and one time I was heads-up going into the flop. So what do I know :-)