These daysyour opponents in no limit Texas hold’em will be far more clued up than whatthey used to be! Reading poker theory on sites like http://www.poker.co.uk/poker-strategy/
and watching videos from coachingsites helps to advance peoples understanding of no limit poker. So we then needto ask the question of how much value you can extract from merely stealingblinds? The value is thinner when it comes to raising from position these daysmeaning that you should probably do it less often. There are numerous problemsassociated with expanding your range from position.
Problemnumber one is that your opponents simply expect the move. Any move that isexpected is by sheer definition much less effective. A boxer wouldn’t do verywell if they telegraphed every punch they were about to throw. Problem numbertwo is that you are laying your opponent odds when you raise to steal theblinds and that makes blind stealing less attractive mathematically. Thirdly itmakes it very easy for your opponents to find simple counter-play and thesimple counter-play is to 3/bet. While you have the option to 4/bet, that alsois quite thin in terms of value.
You need tobe careful when you make any play in no limit hold’em because if you offer youropponent a simple counter-play then you not only make their life easier butyour own harder. If you raise with a wide range and then fold most of thatrange to a 3/bet then you are going to find yourself being exploited by many ofyour opponents at higher levels. This leaves us in a position where raisingwith wider ranges from all positions is probably less profitable on the wholein modern online no limit hold’em.
When youalso factor in that many of your opponents will be holding short stacks and canpossibly shove over your steal raises then open raising is allowing youropponents straight forward and easy responses to your actions. In years gone bythen I would open raise with hands like J-8s from the hijack because my controlover my opponents was more than what it is today and my value from open raisingwasn’t as thin.
I knew thatmy opponents were much tighter and that my raise would guarantee me the buttonmore than what it does now. These days that sort of raise is much thinner forthe reasons previously mentioned because being 3/bet or floated is much morelikely with the added likelihood of further aggressive action post flop forcingtougher decisions on you.
I have often said this to myself many times and I have always come up with the same answer.This has been that I am not a natural poker player. Sure I know the poker rules
and also the unwritten rules of the game for how to make a few bucks……but that’s just it…….I have my limitations. But guess what…..so do the majority of people that play poker and they either waste time trying to be “ballers” and bust out or recycle money. The best of them often have long losing or break even periods caused by changing game dynamics or small earn rates being wiped out for whatever reason.
I think that for at least 99.99% of the people (that figure is probably too low) that play poker then high stakes and even mid-stake games are beyond them. This isn’t to do with a lack of intelligence or know how or anything like that in many cases. Mid-stakes poker or higher involves an involved process of first identifying and then executing a correct educational process which nearly all never locate.
Then it involves having the bankroll and the nerve to withstand huge losses and also the skill and talent to be able to get an edge against the very best. To mix it with professionals and other strong players takes something very special. It also takes an almost obsession with the game and the top players eat, sleep and breathe the game 24/7. I decided a long time ago that this wasn’t for me and concentrated multi-tabling the NL50 and NL100 levels with a rock solid ABC and do you know what……not only does it make money relatively stress free but it is a damn site more enjoyable.
Some years ago when I first started playing higher levels of poker than my usual stake levels then I really didn't understand reverse dead money or leverage as some pro's like to call it. It is only when you compare that to other everyday areas like buying goods can you then see how paying more for something than what it is worth is essentially like setting fire to money.
So is raising in poker to more than what is necessary to get the job done. If your opponent bets 6bb into a 11bb pot and you suspect weakness then why make it 30bb when they may and probably will fold to a raise to 20bb if they hold nothing?? This just loses 10bb every time you get it wrong......these were painful lessons to me and is all part of the long process of learning the game.
Poker columnist at www.poker.co.uk
Some yearsago then whether you played live or online, you could make very good moneyplaying nothing but ABC at most levels. However, along came the coaching sitesand suddenly all that changed. Do not get me wrong, ABC can do very well and isprobably optimal at all levels up to around NL50. However at NL100 then youcertainly need to utilise plays that are different some of the time. Let uslook at an example here to show you what I mean taken from a game of mine at www.pokerstars.co.uk
I was in thebig blind with the 10c-8c with 117bb in my stack and I had folded to c-betsagainst the same cut-off raiser on two of the last five orbits. They had astack of 143bb and so my stack was the effective stack. During the past twoorbits then I had expended an extra 5bb when I called two raises to 3.5bb. So Iwas only down 5bb on that small sequence. Many people would say that you aredown 7bb but money placed into the pot in blinds is gone.
The flopcame 9d-6c-4h giving me the gutshot draw and an overcard. I checked and theyfired a 5.5bb c-bet which I called. The turn card was the Kc giving me theflush draw and gutshot and I checked again and they made it 14bb to go which Inow check-raised to 45bb. They tanked and folded and actually showed Ks-3s. Sobecause of the fact that I was playing tight and making my moves sparingly thenI had not only bluffed at a pot but I had also made my opponent fold top pair.
These arenot plays that you should be doing all the time. They are plays that you needto do every once in a while to prevent your opponents from running over you andto keep them guessing. Playing ABC counts for about 99% of all of the playsthat you make and this is especially the case in full ring cash games. Howeverwhat really makes the difference between recycling money and making money atlevels like NL100 and NL200 is the crucial 1% where you do something different.
When you play high stakes poker at say http://www.pokerstars.com/poker/promotions/rafa-nadal/
then you constantly have to place yourself into tough spots in order to make money and this leads to higher variance. This is why you need a much higher bankroll for say $10,000 games than you do for $50 games in terms of the number of buy-ins that you need. This is even more so in six handed and heads up games than full ring. However if you want to be what I call a “basic online pro” then you can get by with a very strong fundamental game.
So you don’t need to be placing yourself into tough spots too frequently and you can backoff when played back at. This is because your opponents will be less likely to want to escalate the pot beyond certain levels at low stakes games than they do at high stakes games. Let us look at an example, it gets folded around to you on the button and you raise with the 9c-5d.
The player in the big blind calls and you both see the flop with around 100bb in your respectivestacks. The flop comes 10h-7s-2c and they check with the action now being onyou. Because our hand isn’t connected or suited then there is far less chanceof us making a big hand. So we are going to find ourselves in situations wherewe have no pair, weak pairs and no draws far too often.
Also because we raised then it will be tougher for us to represent hands on certain flops.Let us say that we c-bet this flop and get called and the turn card comes and is the 4c. Clearly then our opponent stands a very good chance of calling us on the turn because the turn card didn’t really alter anything. So our fold equity is very low and our pot equity is even lower.
We have placed ourselves here into a tough spot when the best course of action would have been to have simply folded the hand pre-flop. If we barrel the turn and get called then we are placing ourselves into greater jeopardy. The only way that we can now win this pot is to get our opponent to fold their equity and hopefully they will do that if a big scare card comes on the river. Failing that and we may have to barrel the river as well. Placing yourself into too many tough spots in poker when all you need to get the dollars is good solid play is not good poker.
Recently I was having a conversation with a player that asked me at what stage do we have to play a much more advanced poker game at no limit Texas hold’em. I have been watching the games at Lock Poker
recently after a tip off from a friend about how soft they were and I can answer that question quite easily. Firstly I think that level is NL100 and this is the level that I refer to as the mid-point in no limit hold’em cash games.
At NL50 then we can certainly make a good solid earn rate by having a very good grasp of the basic fundamentals and nothing else along with a good rakeback deal and getting sign up bonuses. However the game that we need to play and do well at NL50 is atotally different animal to the game that we need to play NL200. So somewhere between NL50 and NL200 there is a huge change of dynamic and that change happens at NL100.
This is the level where the worst NL50 players are getting a rude awakening while only a small number of NL50 players keep their head above water and survive. There are many NL50 players in NL100 or at least NL50 players with the skills of a NL50 player rather than the skills required for a NL100 player with aspirations to move up to NL200. I think that a player can get to NL50 and beat that level being primarily self-taught. However I do believe that in order to beat NL100 and then successfully move on from that level then you really do need outside assistance. This means a good solid coach who has beaten or is beating the level that you are looking to move into….this is vital in my book.
I almost forgot since my last post a few minutes ago, I wanted to mention some poker coaching that I had a few weeks ago that is really starting to come to fruition. I found that my game was stagnating at NL50 and especially NL100 full ring. I was making money but nowhere as much as what I had been doing. I just find grinding very tough although that could be down to my idle tendencies rather than anything else.
However I have turned the corner results wise and the past six weeks have seen a huge increase in profits but also in my mind set. One thing led to another and because I was struggling some months ago then I was finding excuses not to play poker. I didn’t want to play poker for the simple reason being that I was only earning around $20/hour. This had dropped from a peak of $35/hour.
Despite the fact that many people were telling me that this could be variance and that the games at www.pokerstars.co.uk
had become tougher then I refused to believe either reason. I am always convinced that there is something wrong with my game first and foremost before I accept any outside reasons as being the cause. Sure enough my new coach ripped me to pieces but I couldn’t counter any of it because what he was saying was right. I just had to hear it from someone and when I did then it became a huge weight that was lifted. So looking forward to the rest of 2012 with vigour.
You hear it all the time in poker, “oh it was a cooler” or “what can you do, it was a cooler”. This is a poker term where it describes a big hand losing to another big hand. I was discussing one such instance a few days ago at www.pokerstars.co.uk
where a player was stacked on a 10h-9d-4s board after holding 4c-4h with 140bb effective stacks at NL100. The turn card was the As and the river card was the 9c. Our hero lost to a player holding 10d-10c.
Too many players shrug these events off as unavoidable but often you make your own situations in poker. For example our hero in this example raised from early position. He was called by three opponents. However even though his play was deceptive, he was actually building a cooler for himself. His opponents were placing him onto big premium pairs and Broadway cards. So they were calling to beat that range.
Hands like suited connectors and bigger pocket pairs now figure to be in their ranges. You need to remember that when you open raise in a pot like this then you are looking to win a small pot. Hands like two pair and top pair will not stack off and your pair is building bottom set. This is going to put you on the wrong side of a cooler and so there is no point in bleating about it after it happens. You have simply manufactured your own downfall.
Glad to be posting my first blog on Poker.org and hope that you will find my ramblings of interest. I am being coached at the moment by a strong NL100 pro who is looking to improve my game. Says on my stats that I play NL100 FR but in reality it is mainly NL50. I only play NL100 if there are regs who I know from NL50 active at the level.
I play at www.pokerstars.co.uk
at the moment although I have bounced around the online sites a lot over the past few years. Looks like the action may be about to increase with the latest news about Stars and FTP. It all sounds like good news and it can hardly be bad news for the poker population when thousands upon thousands of punters are happy again.
It will be great if they get their money back. I didn't have any funds on FTP when Black Friday came but several good friends "lost" serious sums. But anyway, enough about that and back on to my blog. I live in the UK and already I am fed up of the Olympics. I think apart from the big events then most of the non-participating public don't seem to be overly interested where I live.
I suppose it just came at the wrong time for me after spending almost an entire month watching Euro 2012. I spent too much time not playing poker and so needed to get back to the grind again. Spent some dough recently on coaching, felt that my game was slipping last year and decided to drop the number of tables and improve. Anyway will be talking about some of my lessons learned over coming blogs.