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Gearing Up

As I continue to gear up for my comeback at the tables, I found myself watching a couple poker videos yesterday . Great players really make the game seem so easy at times, don't they? When I take a seat at the $100 NLHE tables in full force tomorrow evening, I hope that I've picked up enough pointers to score a winning session.

I'm also hoping that buying-in for 100 BBs makes a difference in my table image. I'm not sure how badly my image suffered when I bought in for 50 BB. I do know that I was having a hell of time pushing my opponents off their hands with my frequent c-bets. I've started to wonder if the implied threat of playing a big pot was lost on my opponents when I only had 35-40 BB behind after making a continuation bet?

I'm also interested to see how I handle setting up favourable stack-to-pot ratios with effective stacks of more than 50 BBs. It can be a tricky proposition and quite difficult to do well when playing against tighter opponents not willing to call large pre-flop bets without near-nut holdings. I guess I'll need to limp, min-raise, and limp-reraise a lot of hands. Is it just me or did I just feel a collective shudder from my solid, poker-playing readers?

I think I've got to remember that I play poker to have fun. Sure, it can make me a lot of money. But if I don't enjoy doing it, it becomes a second job. And it's hard to keep up with a second job if it's costing you money night after night as occurs during long-stretches of break-even or losing sessions.

I've got some more videos to watch before I hit the tables tomorrow night. And I'll probably hit up my Xbox 360 for some R & R tonight.

Oh! Speaking of my Xbox 360: anyone interested in purchasing my mint-condition copy of BioShock can make a bid here.

For those of you who don't like video games, why not sign-up for rakeback at your favourite sites at RakeTheRake? You need the money, I need the money - we're looking at a true win/win situation here!

Have a good one!

2 comments:

SimpleStyle said...

"I've started to wonder if the implied threat of playing a big pot was lost on my opponents when I only had 35-40 BB behind after making a continuation bet?"

Having a smaller stack is definitely a big disadvantage against a solid player. Players are always looking at your stack size when they consider the pots they want to play with you. If I'm drawing and you don't have much of a stack to pay me off with I'm less likely to play my draw. On the other hand, if I have a weak hand like TP and you're a small stack making big bets, I'm more likely to lay down my holdings because I see that you're really interested in getting your stack in. Basically, it's a lot easier to tell when a small stack wants to play a big (to them) pot than it is to tell when a regular stack wants to play a big pot.

"I'm also interested to see how I handle setting up favourable stack-to-pot ratios with effective stacks of more than 50 BBs."

Why are you playing this sort of game with only 50 BBs? If you're looking to get your money in when you have the best of it, why not get more money in? This couples with my point above. You're more likely to get paid off when your opponents aren't able to gauge your interest in a hand. And if they make a mistake, it's costing them more when you have a bigger stack.

"Is it just me or did I just feel a collective shudder from my solid, poker-playing readers?"

I definitely shuddered. I haven't played much 100NL (currently at 50NL, so I'll be there soon) but I can't imagine that the game changes that drastically only one level up.

Klopzi said...

simplestyle -

"Having a smaller stack is definitely a big disadvantage against a solid player."

I don't agree that having a small stack against a solid player is a disadvantage. I'd go so far as to say it's an advantage. By playing a smaller stack, I can negate much of the advantage that the good player holds over me. How? Post-flop play becomes secondary to good pre-flop play. I become immune to bluffs and many of my plays are automatic given the pot size compared to the remaining effective stack size.

However, one thing that may have been hurting me is that I was trying to play a somewhat looser style of play even though I didn't have the chips necessary to offer sufficient implied odds. And, as I said in my post, I wonder if my opponents perceived my small stack as a sign of weakness. I probably should have value bet more and bluffed a lot less. Patience is a hard virtue to learn well. It's quite easy to loosen up in an attempt to make back some losses quickly.

"Why are you playing this sort of game with only 50 BBs? If you're looking to get your money in when you have the best of it, why not get more money in?"

The problem becomes knowing when you have the best of it. For example, you raise from the button with AsTs and a tricky player in the BB calls. Flop comes Ad-Js-9d. Villain checks, you c-bet, and he jams. What do you do?

If you're playing 100 BBs or more, you've got a tough decision. Lay down top pair every time to this opponent and you'll lose a lot of value. Call too often and you'll find yourself committing too much money with a weak-ish hand.

If I'm playing 50 BBs in this spot, it's an easy jam on the flop. You've planned to commit post-flop if you hit top pair and you're up against a tricky opponent on a coordinated board. In this case, the Villain could be playing any number of hands including pocket pairs, draws, or weaker ace. It's hard to know for certain because he is tricky. But by playing 50 BBs, I no longer care what the Villain has. The pot's too large compared to my remaining stack so it's pushy-pushy time.

"I can't imagine that the game changes that drastically only one level up."

The game doesn't change that much. Buying-in for 50 BBs worked extremely well at the $50 NL tables as well.

Keep in mind that the reason I'm going to try playing with a 100 BB stack is not because I think playing half-stacked doesn't have its merits. I'm doing this to change up my game. I've stagnated and need to break out of my funk. By playing full-stacked, I force myself to play looser pre-flop and tighter post-flop - the exact opposite of short-stacked play.

Most poker players who've spent any amount of time reading 2+2 or other blogs have many common misconceptions. One of the biggest regards the notion of "always buy-in for the full amount". I used to think that way and I was hopelessly wrong.

If you have any doubts, buy yourself a copy of Professional No-Limit Hold'em Vol. 1. Read it through a few times then try playing a 50 BB stack. If you do a good job of setting up favourable SPRs, I can guarantee you'll come out a winner.

Simplestyle, thanks very much for the comment. I'm sure that many of my readers feel the same way as you do. I'm not saying that I'm always and you're always wrong or vice-versa. I believe that playing winning NLHE is less a matter of stack size and more a matter of evaluating all criteria at hand to make sound decisions. No matter how you decide to go about your game, NLHE is a tough game to play well.