32 Days of Poker at 32Red Poker

32 Days of Poker

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Low-Limit Hold'em Strategy: Playing Small Pairs Preflop

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Small pairs are defined as 7-7,6-6, 5-5,4-4, 3-3, and 2-2. Most low-limit hold 'em players play small pairs very poorly. Most low-limit players play all pocket pairs in all situations. The dream of flopping a set and winning a huge pot is just too tempting. Do not fall into this trap!

Obviously there are very few hands that you will dominate with your small pair. What are you hoping your opponent holds? A pair smaller than yours? A-2s? What if you have several opponents? You are a negligible favorite over two bigger cards, but you are a huge dog to a bigger pair. Herein lies the problem with small pair. You are either a negligible favorite or a huge dog.

There are two ways for your small pair to win. First, all of your opponents could miss their hands and you could win without improving. Second, you could improve to a set, straight, flush, full house, quads, or a straight flush and beat a hand which would otherwise beat your pair.

Initial Reads

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When you first sit down at a poker table, there will almost always be someone you don't know, and you might not know anyone. When this happens, you have to rely on predetermined reads based on how your opponents look and act. While the following may be incorrect about any particular person, it can be quite useful in making initial reads. Stereotypes are usually only useful during the first few levels of play. There is no replacement for sound observation. Please do not be offended by any of the information below. If you are a poker player, you need to have thick skin.

The typical player you will see at the poker table will be the rich, old, white man. This type of player usually plays tighter than he should and will most likely overvalue hands like A-K and big pairs, investing too much money post-flop when the situation suggests otherwise. Go out of your way to abuse this player's blinds and make many stabs post-flop, as he will give up most marginal hands to continued aggression. If this player is willing to put a lot of chips in the pot, you need to have a strong hand to continue, as you will usually be looking at top pair, top kicker or better.

Casual Cash Games at PartyPoker

 Casual Cash Games

Cash in on Casual Cash Games at PartyPoker
All poker players should be able to play with their shoulders down once in a while. On our new Casual Cash Games tables, you can. These tables are just like any other cash game – except they’re only open to players happy to play a single cash game at a time. To identify these tables- look for a smiley next to table name in the cash game lobby.

Bankroll Facts

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Bankroll Fact # 1 - If you aren't certain you can play very well, you need more

The recommended bankroll strategy assumes that you are in the 1 big bet per hour ballpark. If this is not you, you need more. Then you need 800 big bets (not 400) for the level you are moving up to. And you must drop down in half when you reach 400 big bets. If you are a 1/4 big bet per hour player, then double these numbers once more.

Bankroll Fact #2 - Risk tolerant players can play with less 

If you want to take some risk, you can move up when you have 300 big bets and drop down to half the stakes when you get down to 150 big bets. This isn't actually that risky if you truly are a 1 big bet per hour caliber player. The drop down strategy actually reduces your 1 % chance of going broke to much less than that. But remember the risks involved. How sure can you be that you are a 1 big bet per hour player? How sure can you be that your fluctuations aren't greater than the "typical" pro? How sure are you that you will always play your "A" game, even during prolonged losing streaks? How sure can you be that your competition won't get any better? With all these questions, why risk your career lifeblood? But that's just me. You might choose differently for yourself. As long as I know that you are making your decision with both eyes wide open, I can totally respect any decision you make regarding the level of risk that you are comfortable with. It's your life.

Defending from the Big Blind vs Cut-off's

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There's a significant drop in most opponents’ open raising range from the cut-off than the button. For that reason, you need to tighten up your 3-betting and flatting range against most opponents. Most opponents will open raise from the cut-off about 24-33% of the time. Both 6-max and full ring tend to have similar averages, with full ring actually having slightly higher cut-off opening ranges to about 34.5%. It's reasonable to assume that because it's usually opened more often before it gets folded to the cut-off at full ring, that people seize the opportunity slightly more often. In either case, opening ranges in both games are very similar.

Blind Play

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Similar to flat calling, players tend to struggle heavily when playing out of the blinds. It's understandable of course, since you're out of position almost always (except when defending against an open small blind raise). Almost everyone posts losses from the blinds, but you can minimize your losses, or even show profit with some smart decision making and solid poker thinking algorithms. If you are bleeding heavy money from the blinds, then there are a couple of specific areas you should look at first to make some adjustments.

 

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The aggression in Short-handed No Limit Holdem

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People usually want to be aggressive to “take control of the hand” or “seize the initiative”; however, as we have said these are not ends in themselves, just examples of hazy thinking. Taking control of the hand is meaningless; it’s almost synonymous with a couple of legitimate reasons, which are “betting now to prevent a bluff later on” and “betting for information”. 

These ideas are more Limit poker ideas than NLHE ones. In NLHE since the bet sizes are not small fractions of the pot but rather close to pot size most of the time, they are significant and can’t be thrown around. Betting for information is too expensive, in fact it doesn’t really accomplish much except for sometimes making a hand easier to play.

Adjusting to the Opposition's Pre-Flop Aggression

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If everyone at the table is re-raising you often, then you will want to take steps to adjust to your opponent's pre-flop aggression. You should probably widen your four-betting range pre-flop and/or tighten your pre-flop opening range. Instead of having to fold hands like 64s in a spot, we will have more hands like 99 that we may choose to four-bet with the intention of calling an all-in bet as a result of a tighter pre-flop raising range. Instead of folding our weaker hands, we might also choose to four-bet as a bluff. Before continuing to read, try to figure out why four-betting a hand as weak as 99 and calling an all-in is quite often a good play versus many people with the level of aggression in today's games. How many reasons can you think of before continuing to read?

The same logic that applies to raising pre-flop applies to re-raising pre-flop. Imagine a case where it is extremely likely that if you call with AQo, that you will be squeezed. Next, imagine a case where if you re-raise AQo pre-flop, the original raiser will fold hands like AJo and ATs. Finally, imagine both of these cases being true of the same hand and that player who we believe will fold AJo and ATs type hands raises and we have AQo on the button. AQo is usually a clear call in this instance.