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PL/NL Texas Hold'em >> Small Stakes

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HoldEmNewby
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/08/06
Posts: 2019
Loc: "Noony noony noo..."
Optimal Play at $25NL
      #4900832 - 02/28/06 12:30 PM

I play $25NL at Party and the games are very loose. Lot of limping not much raising. The concept of "pump it or dump it" is very foreign to most players. Now my understanding is that in a loose game the correct strategy is to tighten up. That said, what I found was when I raised preflop (with the standard 4-5 BB + 1 BB per limper) with a high pair JJ-AA a lot of the time all that would happen is everyone would fold and I'd win the blinds + 1BB per limper. I'm happy when this would happen with AK or AQ but it was anti-climactic if I was holding AA (which it shouldn't be I should be happy winning any pot). Also I've noticed a weird trend: players are more willing to call a middle position raise then a late position raise. I don't know why this is maybe its just psycological (as when the raise gets back to them they've seen many of their fellow limpers already fold and opt out).

This got me thinking: shouldn't I drop my raising standards and raise more often from a late position, even if there are 2-3 limpers already in the pot? Rightly or wrongly I've been experimenting with this and I find as long as I c-bet reasonably and don't spew this move does have a +EV to a break even expectation (but the investment pays off as some observant players start to play back and now my legitamite hands get payed off). These results aren't conclusive and I'm still testing out the theory.

I think I may have just been rambling but what my question is: what changes must I make in my strategy so I'm playing optimal poker for the $25NL-50NL level. I'm not speaking so much in general strategy but more about the subtle adjustments needed to make a winning SSNL player into an optimal SSNL player.

This may be a useless post, if so I apologise in advance. I'm just trying to grow beyond basic TAG strategy and need a little help.


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Garon
old hand


Reged: 02/01/06
Posts: 700
Loc: Arizona
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: HoldEmNewby]
      #4900996 - 02/28/06 12:43 PM


Hi HoldemNewby,

Looks to me like you've found the answer already. Open up your PFR requirements a bit and take down those pots PF. Eventually they will start calling you, if not you get lots of free pots.

As for when you have AA, if the choice is playing it against 4-5 players or taking the blinds/limpers money PF, I'll take the PF pot every time and be happy!

Garon


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Pokey
Pretty much the best poster ever


Reged: 03/15/05
Posts: 3712
Loc: Using the whole Frist, doc?
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: HoldEmNewby]
      #4901122 - 02/28/06 12:56 PM

Quote:

I'm just trying to grow beyond basic TAG strategy and need a little help.




Not to be discouraging, but what you suggest isn't beyond basic TAG strategy; it's part of basic TAG strategy. As Ed Miller brilliantly put it in his recent 2+2 magazine article:
Quote:

Total all the dollars you've ever bet playing poker. The large majority of those dollars should have been bet from late position. Only a small percentage of your total handle should have been bet from up front.



To implement this idea, you should be:

1. Playing more hands from LP.
2. Raising more hands from LP.

The concept is called "positional awareness," and it's a fundamental building-block of good poker strategy. My general rule-of-thumb on positional play is that if I look at my VPIP from each position, it should be decreasing as I move farther from the button (blinds are a whole separate category -- ignore them for now). I'd love to see my "VPIP from Button" at double my "VPIP from UTG" in a full-ring game, but if your Button VPIP isn't at LEAST 50% larger than your UTG VPIP, you're not playing a sufficiently positionally aware game.

My preflop aggression rule-of-thumb is that I want my PFR% to be at least half of my VPIP. If I'm not raising it up with at LEAST half the hands I pay to see, I'm either too passive or too loose preflop.

So; how can we implement this "positionally aware" strategy? Here are some suggestions:

1. From EP, play tighter-than-tight. I play any pocket pair, AK, AQ, maybe AJ and KQ (depending on the table and my image); that's it. I'm raising with AA-TT and AK, AQ, AJ, and KQ (if I play them). Sometimes I'll raise 99 and 88 as well.
2. From MP, I don't open-limp. If the hand is good enough to play, it's good enough to raise as the first player in. I'll add suited connectors down to T9s into my lineup, and unsuited QJ or JT. I'll also consider open-raising any two if my table image is tight and the players behind me are tight preflop and/or horrible (or even just weak-tight) postflop.
3. From LP, if it's folded to me, I'm open-raising with any pair, any ace, any king, any two honors, any suited connectors down to 54s, any unsuited connectors down to 87o. I make steal attempts a bit over 1/3 of the time, and it's wildly profitable. I also follow up ANY steal attempt with a continuation bet, regardless of the board or my hand. I will, however, quickly release a garbage hand if I'm reraised preflop or bet into on the flop; there's no reason to stick around if you get caught stealing.
4. From LP after limpers, I tighten up a bit on my raising standards but still play very loose: I'll raise any suited ace, any pair AA-TT, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, and QJ; I'll add in any other pair and suited or unsuited connectors if I'm feeling frisky and my image is tight. I'll at least limp with suited connectors and any pair regardless.

Position is a powerful advantage in no-limit hold'em; if you don't use it, you're costing yourself money. The best way to use it is to play reasonably loose from LP (barring a preflop raise in front of you) and reasonably tight from EP. Just make sure you stay aggressive -- you've got to raise at least half of these hands preflop. That means there are plenty of hands that you wouldn't even play from EP that are worth a raise in LP, even after limpers.


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ivaluebet
enthusiast


Reged: 11/15/05
Posts: 385
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: Pokey]
      #4901166 - 02/28/06 01:01 PM

Awesome post pokey,

Printed it out!


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DumbRock
enthusiast


Reged: 01/29/06
Posts: 254
Loc: sporting a shorter name
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: Pokey]
      #4901184 - 02/28/06 01:02 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I'm just trying to grow beyond basic TAG strategy and need a little help.




Not to be discouraging, but what you suggest isn't beyond basic TAG strategy; it's part of basic TAG strategy. As Ed Miller brilliantly put it in his recent 2+2 magazine article:
Quote:

Total all the dollars you've ever bet playing poker. The large majority of those dollars should have been bet from late position. Only a small percentage of your total handle should have been bet from up front.



To implement this idea, you should be:

1. Playing more hands from LP.
2. Raising more hands from LP.

The concept is called "positional awareness," and it's a fundamental building-block of good poker strategy. My general rule-of-thumb on positional play is that if I look at my VPIP from each position, it should be decreasing as I move farther from the button (blinds are a whole separate category -- ignore them for now). I'd love to see my "VPIP from Button" at double my "VPIP from UTG" in a full-ring game, but if your Button VPIP isn't at LEAST 50% larger than your UTG VPIP, you're not playing a sufficiently positionally aware game.

My preflop aggression rule-of-thumb is that I want my PFR% to be at least half of my VPIP. If I'm not raising it up with at LEAST half the hands I pay to see, I'm either too passive or too loose preflop.

So; how can we implement this "positionally aware" strategy? Here are some suggestions:

1. From EP, play tighter-than-tight. I play any pocket pair, AK, AQ, maybe AJ and KQ (depending on the table and my image); that's it. I'm raising with AA-TT and AK, AQ, AJ, and KQ (if I play them). Sometimes I'll raise 99 and 88 as well.
2. From MP, I don't open-limp. If the hand is good enough to play, it's good enough to raise as the first player in. I'll add suited connectors down to T9s into my lineup, and unsuited QJ or JT. I'll also consider open-raising any two if my table image is tight and the players behind me are tight preflop and/or horrible (or even just weak-tight) postflop.
3. From LP, if it's folded to me, I'm open-raising with any pair, any ace, any king, any two honors, any suited connectors down to 54s, any unsuited connectors down to 87o. I make steal attempts a bit over 1/3 of the time, and it's wildly profitable. I also follow up ANY steal attempt with a continuation bet, regardless of the board or my hand. I will, however, quickly release a garbage hand if I'm reraised preflop or bet into on the flop; there's no reason to stick around if you get caught stealing.
4. From LP after limpers, I tighten up a bit on my raising standards but still play very loose: I'll raise any suited ace, any pair AA-TT, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, and QJ; I'll add in any other pair and suited or unsuited connectors if I'm feeling frisky and my image is tight. I'll at least limp with suited connectors and any pair regardless.

Position is a powerful advantage in no-limit hold'em; if you don't use it, you're costing yourself money. The best way to use it is to play reasonably loose from LP (barring a preflop raise in front of you) and reasonably tight from EP. Just make sure you stay aggressive -- you've got to raise at least half of these hands preflop. That means there are plenty of hands that you wouldn't even play from EP that are worth a raise in LP, even after limpers.




Very nice post. Its going to my Favs list. Thanks.


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HoldEmNewby
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/08/06
Posts: 2019
Loc: "Noony noony noo..."
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: DumbRock]
      #4902755 - 02/28/06 03:03 PM

Thanks Pokey. If that was the only reply I got from that post it would have been worth it.

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epdaws
Pork Barrel Buster


Reged: 10/19/05
Posts: 4260
Loc: 2up, 2 to play
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: Pokey]
      #4902852 - 02/28/06 03:10 PM

Quote:

4. From LP after limpers, I tighten up a bit on my raising standards but still play very loose: I'll raise any suited ace, any pair AA-TT, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ, and QJ; I'll add in any other pair and suited or unsuited connectors if I'm feeling frisky and my image is tight. I'll at least limp with suited connectors and any pair regardless.




This was an excellent post, Pokester. But your vpip is still pretty low, based on what you report your stats to be, so I wonder if you're following these rules closely enough. At smaller stakes there are a lot of limpers, so obviously you won't be opening from LP often with no one in the pot in front of you.

Maybe to crank up your play and use positional advantage, experiment with combining points three and four. If you have limpers in front of you with a hand listed in point three, raise it up. Once in a while when three players limp in front of you, raise to 6 or 7x with 87 unsuited. Take control and use position.

For those who have asked about converting to LAG play, I think that combining Pokey's 3 and 4 is a good way to start. Good LAG play is about abusing position and making it very difficult for opponents to win hands against you when they're out of position.


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poincaraux
Open-folding for metagame


Reged: 01/21/04
Posts: 1412
Loc: 15 skunks!
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: Pokey]
      #4902892 - 02/28/06 03:12 PM

Quote:

3. From LP, if it's folded to me, I'm open-raising with any pair, any ace, any king, any two honors, ...



Back to the bridge tables with you!

Side note: I can remember every card from every trick when I'm playing bridge. I probably forget more than 1/2 of the cards when I'm playing stud. D'oh!


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aces_dad
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/24/05
Posts: 2160
Loc: Hillsboro, OR
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: epdaws]
      #4902922 - 02/28/06 03:14 PM

This is something I'm trying to work on. It's easy to open raise LP with a wide range but punishing weak limpers is something I'm trying to do more of. Obviously easy with the very top hands but I find myself overlimping in position with these SC's most of the time.

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BukNaked36
veteran


Reged: 11/17/05
Posts: 1419
Re: Optimal Play at $25NL [Re: aces_dad]
      #4904405 - 02/28/06 05:01 PM

Pokey,

What do your preflop poker tracker numbers look like with these starting hands?

Also, how are defining a steal attempt?


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