I come from a ring background, its what I learned and was mentored in from the beginning of my playing career that started back in 2002 or so. And I have to say that the game has changed quite a bit over the last 10 years in terms of online play. Back in the day, it was a much more tame in terms of average pots, buy-in limits, and even raises preflop. Today though, or at least a short time after someone in the business got the idea to increase max buy-ins to increase rake per table, its a much different animal.
Now, seeing as how most people I come in contact with in the online community are now all about tourney play and dont know much about or are even slightly scared to play ring games, I thought I would put together a few blog posts about the various things I do that make for solid, profitable sessions in NL ring.
First and foremost, you have to have a plan. We all know the old saying of failing to plan is planning to fail, or my personal favorite 'The 6 P's' Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. As you start to think about your plan, you should be writing down your thoughts and ideas as to how you want to approach your game, and I mean YOUR game. When you sit down at a table, you want to make it YOUR table. That doesnt mean you are going to come out swinging and making big bets or anything like that. It means you will control every aspect you want, when you want from speed to pot sizes to aggression(yes, even aggression of other players).
Some factors of your plan should most likely include things like max draw down, starting stack, take profit levels, calling ranges, note taking, and patience level.
Max Draw Down
This, taken from the world of trading really, is a simple thought process really, at what point of being down do you leave the table? Are you going to sit at a table that isnt producing cards and/or opportunity and just blow through your stack? Is your risk limit going to be 100% of what you sit with? It really shouldnt be, ever, even if you have 100 buy-ins for the level there is NO point in blowing a stack to a bad table. Pick a dollar amount and stick to it.
Yep, its as simple as it sounds, at what point do you leave a table when sitting on profit? Cards dont run good forever, even if we think they do. Now this does get a little tricky and even sticky at times because you could hit a couple huge pots and be sitting more than tripled up in a short time. Your instincts will of course tell you to stay cause you are free rolling big time. For sure stay, but pick a dollar amount, or in trading terms a retrace, in which you will leave. This could be playing till you are only sitting on a double from your buy-in or whatever you feel good with, but keep in mind the more you leave with the better obviously. We arent gambling here, we are playing a game of skill and a big part of that skill is knowing when to gracefully bow the frick out!
I for one will rarely sit with a max buy-in, I dont feel its needed. This of course changes as you get higher in levels but for most levels up to about $2/$4NL you dont need a full buy-in. Pick what you feel comfortable with and gives you enough to get in some good pots with good hands. For me personally, I take whatever the auto-buy is which is typically about 60% of max.
At what point of NOT catching playable hands do you find yourself even at a little bit of frustration? This can be gauged in terms of number of hands dealt in the session. If you find yourself getting antsy and wanting to play a hand just to get in the action around 25-30 hands, then there is your level. If you can sit there and go 5-6 orbits and only be paying blinds then your level is going to be around 45-60 hands. When you hit this level, GTFO(if you dont know, figure it out
Do yourself a huge favor, if your HUD does not have something that shows hands in terms of pre flop win %'s and +/- ev, do a quick search for an ev chart and print it out. This will help you in your calling and raising ranges from various positions on the table and keeps it quite cut and dry in terms of the math. I will also do more on this in a future post.
When developing your plan, think about things that help and hurt your play. Put these things in the plan so you can again reference them. Do you have a hard time folding a big pair? Do you overplay AKo? Do you draw too much? Do you drink and how, how many is too many? Do you have distractions at the house? Like me, screaming baby?? How many hands/hours are you going to play per day/week/month? Will you multi-table?
There are all sorts of things to consider here, after all you are trying to make money so its best to put some real time in on this.
Tomorrow I will get into some of the basics I use in table selection, notes, and recognizing your own habits.