Saturday, August 20, 2005

strategy review for no limit hold em

I am a fan of Doyle Brunson; I study his Super System chapter on no limit hold 'em. I play and try to emulate the aggressive and selective style he plays. Unfortunately, most players look like Doyle Brunson (overweight) but do not play like him. The major points I have taken from reading Super System is selective aggression. Pick your cards right, notice your position, and come out guns a blazin' when you are in a pot.

When i arrived at Foxwoods casino, the wait for a table of no limit was 10 mins. Beautiful. I sat down at a table of fat men, young striped shirt looking guys and one tough looking 'hombre' (very Sam Elliot looking). I decided to be patient. I would only play pairs, high cards and when position allowed suited connecters and other high suited cards. Did this strategy work? Yes. Most people call with anything supported by an Ace, suited or not suited. Several times my pocket 6s, 5s, or Qs hit their trips and would take down someone who decided to call my $15 raise with Ace-x. Sure your Ace hit, but what else? When the blinds are 1-2 and they stake you $5 each half hour, you need to be patient. What is the sense of calling $15 raises with Q-9 when you can wait it out and call someone with Ace-Q int he next 15 mins witht he same amount of cash?

I noticed that position mattered much much more. I was able to scoop up $10 in blinds and calls on one hand because I was on the button, had raised $15 and got no callers. People have a habit of calling with anything as long as the blind is low. People want the no limit possibility of pay offs but with minmal investment/risk. It's making poker turn into blackjack, and fat guys at poker tables like to try that. Knowing who has folded can also make you more frisky with raises. If you can see that 5 people have folded in front of you and there are no raises, that Q-9 can look much sexier. Just keep in mind position when raising and you will understand a lot more about your table.

Also, wait to see your cards after everyone in front of you already has looked at theirs. People widen their eyes or look back at them when they have a huge starting hand. I love to see novices do that. Another tip, wait 10 seconds before you do anything, before folding, before betting, before calling. If you have apattern of behavior for every situation that looks the same, then people will not 'know' what you are doing or what you have.

Aggressive betting will win you pots that you do not deserve. I took down plenty of pots where I hit nothing on the flop but bet into it first. The saying 'he who bets first often, wins often' is true. making someone decide to see another card for a $ is a strong tool for victory. I noticed the hombre was demolishing people at the table because they would not hit anythign on the flop and check it to him. He would bet, and they would fold. My startegy when I went against him was to bet into him every chance I got. I hammered on him and after he left the table, he and I talked about it. I told him how he was killing everyone, and I had figured him out. He said "you had my number, I didn't know if you were bluffing or not but after a few losses you stop paying to see it". He was a good player, and I had just caught enough luck with cards to scare him the rest of the way.

What is ruining poker though is its expansion. It is getting so popular that newbies are starting out at no limit tables. Dealers told 2 separate players that they should go to a limit table if they are starting out. A nice suggestion in my opinion. They are taking up space at tables, and ruining how the game is played. Poker with those folks and other novices is becoming an only call the big blind and hope to hit it big on the flop. That is blackjack, not poker. I hate it. Whent he poker trend dies down, and it is a trend now not a fad, the tables will clear out a bit and order will be restored. Hopefully, order will be restored.

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