Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thoughts On How to Win At No Limit Poker Ring Games

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Thoughts On How to Win At No Limit Poker Ring Games

Sometimes Twitter is very helpful. I was reading tweets and there was one about no limit cash play. I clicked on the link and it took me to a 10-minute video of a Poker Stars 6-handed. no limit cash game.

The 6 players at the table had between $1,000 and $12,000. I believe the video was suppose to show how smart the player who was recording this video is at poker. He (our hero) was commenting at his play and his great decision-making.

I observed the play and it was evident that one of the players was betting too often to have the cards he was representing (the bluffer). The other 5 players appeared to be playing by the book.

Anyway, our hero went heads up against this bluffer three times. Each time the bluffer tried to bet enough money to get the hero off his hand. Each time the hero wasn't sure what to do. He finally called and won each time. He won almost $6,000 on those three hands!

After he won each time he talked about how he "knew" the other player had, and why he called. It was funny stuff.

It was even funnier since the reason for the decision was not so much about the bluffer's hands, but that the guy was a habitual bluffer. Play the player and not your cards. In tournament poker, you have to play your opponent to accumulate chips. You can't just sit back and wait for big hands.

I figured if this hero was an expert, I had to play in one of these 6-handed no limit cash games. I had not played in a no limit cash game in years.

Here are my thoughts after only around 10 hours of play. Please note that I am not an expert and these ideas probably are nothing new to you:

1. Don't play at a table where the money being wagered changes your decision-making.

If the amount of money being bet influences you in any way, don't play that level. For example, if your opponent makes a bet and you start thinking about the money being wagered rather than what is the right decision, don't play that level.

Put another way: If you are comfortable at the $.50-$1.00 level, and feel uneasy at the $1.00-$2.00 level, don't play at the $1-$2 level.

2. You have an opportunity to win big if you are at a table where one player is a habitual bluffer.

The guy who bluffs too much is a player who you can take advantage of since he continues to bet without the goods. The other players are much more difficult to beat big since they will be cautious. They do make big bets without big hands.

3. When you are heads-up against a bluffer identify his betting pattern and be willing to make that tough call.

Here's an example from my game:

The bluffer was to my left and he liked to re-raise pre-flop in position. He would make a continuation bet on the flop. If he was called, and he was not strong, he would check the turn. If his opponent bet the river, he would fold. If his opponent checked the river, he would bet and often times win uncontested.

At the $.50-$1.00 table, I raised to $2.50 with A-6 suited on the cut-off. The bluffer re-raised me to $8 and I called. With another player, I would usually just fold. There was $17.50 in the pot.

The flop was 9-6-2 rainbow. I checked and my opponent bet $15. I called. The pot was $47.50.

The turn was a 10. I checked and my opponent checked behind me.

The river was a Q. What should I do?

Frankly, I thought I had the best hand. If I bet out, I would know for sure. If I checked, I knew he would bet and I would win or lose a bigger pot.

I decided to gamble since well, I had something. I checked. He bet $33.

Now, the funny/sad thing is that even though the hand was going as planned, I wasn't feeling comfortable. Had I screwed up here? Frankly, it took me a some time before making my decision...sometimes you just have to go with your plan. I called and won. He had J-5.

4. For you to win big pots, these seem to be the situations:

a) You and your opponent have premium starting hands. And you have the better one.
b) Your opponent has a premium starting hand, but you called pre-flop with a drawing hand. You hit your hand, it is hidden to your opponent, and for some reason he won't get away from his hand.
c) You end up betting a good but not great hand and get called down to the river by an opponent with a slightly worse hand (those one pair, better kicker hands), and/or you have a slightly better hand and make tough calls down to the river.

5. In most cases, you are only going to be battling for small pots. You just need better cards and better smarts to win.

A key in most cases: Don't be predictable! If you get in a betting pattern change up. Just make sure you are playing against observant opponents.

I hope this helps. And, I am open to learning more from you. Oh, don't forget to follow me on Twitter at Mitchell1969.

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