Thursday, December 7, 2006

Florida trip and a note on micro limits

I jsut came back recently from a weekend in Florida to see my parents. Ostensibly, the purpose of the trip was to play golf with my father and brother, and we did. 36 holes over 2 days on two of the nicest courses you're liable to find in South Florida. I didn't shoot too badly either, getting 100 on the public course and 101 on the very highly rated semi-private course. If you're scoffing, those scores are good for me!

Of course, since I was in South Florida, poker in my downtime was a given! I've got my parents trained now to the point where they expect me to go and don't even argue anymore! So long as I see my grandmother and have a few dinners with them, I'm free to play as much as I want. This weekend was no exception and I logged a good 12 hours at the table. I was joined by Wendy, whose grandmother lives in the same complex as my grandmother (small world for jews!). Wendy and I both ended up a little bit down for our trip but I have an observation that I want to share about very low limit tables.

In Florida, under law, the games offered are currently $1/$2 limit, $2/$2 limit and a new game, which I didn't play, of $2/$2 limit with a $2 ante. All the games have their pros and cons but the main feature of all of them is that it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to force out draws by betting. You WILL get called by a moron holding nothing on the board who will then proceed to hit runner runner for a two pair to beat your pocket Aces. Wendy and I were getting a bit frustrated by this when I switched my gameplan and proceed to win at a quick pace.

What was my revelation which put me on the winning track? Just this: Play a super tight game, lay down cards you know are beat and bet as much as possible with strong cards that hit the flop. That's it. That's all there is to it. Why does this work?

Well, it comes down to where you're going to make profit. Yes, your T4 offsuit can sometimes flop a monster but not likely. So the first place you make money is by not giving it up in the first place! Each $2 bet you put in to chase a monster flop is a negative expectation of profit. So play good starting hands. Good hands in this game are your standard Paint/Paint up to middle position, suited connectors in an unraised pot or pocket pairs in nearly any position. In other words, the same thing you'd play in a higher limit game!

The next thing to realize is that you have to push pots you're a favorite to win even if there is a draw on board. The reason is that you have to maximize your gains as much as possible. If you flop a set and don't push because there's two hearts on board, you will leave at least 2 bets PER PLAYER CHASING by not raising often. Any player chasing will call down to the river because they are pot committed to doing it in almost every case. Therefore, you need to maximize any wins you get when you are the favorite. Raise your flopped monsters and NEVER slow play (there is no need since you'll get called down every time).

The next thing to realize is that you MUST not get married to a hand. When a player has been calling your bets all the way down and finally starts raising on the river when a third suit comes up, you are most likely beat. You should only call if you have a reasonable chance of beating what he/she is representing. I would fold two pair in that instance in most cases and probably trips if there is a straight AND a flush possibility on board.

The last thing to realize is why you shouldn't play junk hands and this one fact will cause your PnL to tip from negative to positive. By playing suited connectors that are relatively high and by sticking to paint/paint when you can, you give yourself a much better chance of grabbing pots where both players have made the best hand. Case in point, I had AcTc on the button and called the bet. Many players were in and the flop was TT5, giving me a set with top kicker. I raised the whole way and even got reraised from one player. I was confident he had a Ten, and he did, but I outkicked him in the end and took a monster pot. He though HE had flopped the winner but my better choice of starting hand (he had T6) cost him money that he was confident he was going to win. In another instance, I played Kh3h in the big blind in a pot that was raised once. I called the $2 raise because it was $2 to win $18 in the pot and I flopped a flush. Another player also flopped a flush but his was 68 and I won another big pot.

By nibbling at the edges and playing premium cards, it is my belief that with strict discipline you can win big at these micro limit (and even low limit like 2/4, 3/6, 4/8) games.

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