Now that I have decided to walk away from poker and pursue other ambitions, I have decided to give something back to community that I have received so much from. This comes from a player that played primarily (only) 6max 200NL, 400NL, and 600NL (when the games were fishy).
One of the hardest things I had to learn was the fundamentals of 6 max and how to play like a proper TAG for medium stakes. There is quite a lack of information on how to properly play 6 max TAG and I am mostly appalled at how the lower stakes players are completely missing out on the fundamentals. This post will merely cover the basics of 6 max, positional preflop play and image, and not quite on advanced play.
First thing I want to mention is position and the button. It is a no brainer to why position is so important in NL. Being last to act simply gives you a world of advantage over your opponents. That is why if you open up pokertracker and a large enough sample size, you will see that the button and CO is the most profitable position to play in.
I would also like to make a note here that you should almost never open limp. Open limping is just gross. Don't do it with suited connectors or whatnot. Raise rather than limp. Take down the blinds and move on to next hand. Open limping in 6 max is a very very big sin. DO NOT OPEN LIMP. Open raise.
For all you poker tracker statiticians out there, I play 22/18 and consider myself TAG.
When you are on the button and CO, consider yourself the gatekeeper. It is up to YOU to decide whether or not people get to enter a pot cheaply or not. And hell, why let them play out of position hands for cheap? Abuse the [censored] out of the button and CO. True tags understand this concept and abuse the [censored] out of the button. Hands that a true TAG will raise with if folded to them on the button / CO is: 22 -> AA, meaning every single pocket pair, every single Axs, every single suited connector, and a HUGE variety of high cards, A10o and better. That includes KJo, QJo. Hell, even any Axo if folded to them.
The reason you MUST do this is because:
1) you steal the blinds if they all fold 2) if they call you, they are playing a raised pot out of position and you have the advantage. Continuation betting with nothing often takes the pot down. 3) Flopping sets / monsters in unraised pots is basically a crap pot. 4) People are more likely to go broke on raised pots than unraised pots, they will bluff you more and ship more money your way.
Another positional hand. If he doesnít have an A, or draw, he folds to my raise. If he calls my raise, I can check behind for a free card. This play is better than calling his flop bet.
UTG limps, folds to you on the CO, you have 22. What do you do?
Answer: RAISE. How much to raise, 4-5x BB is good.
UTG limps, MP limps, you hold 22 on the button. What do you do?
Answer: RAISE THAT [censored] UP
If they call, you will take it down often enough with a continuation bet to make it profitable. And BTW, continuation bet 75-90% of the time. They will most likely fold a hand that didnít hit.
So now that you understand basic fundamental button and CO play. It is time to figure out how to play UTG and MP.
UTG: You want to play real damn tight, fold suited connectors, fold high cards, fold Axs hands. But continue to raise pocket pairs in ANY POSITION. Pocket pairs have the ability to flop such powerful monsters that you just canít fold them in any position. Raising pocket pairs is so mandatory. Assume 100BB stacks. You raise 44 in MP and get reraised. You call and flop comes 346, 2410, 410J, 345. You are stacking KK AA 100% of the time. Donít limp either. It is so transparent when a weaktight (who thinks he is a TAG) limps UTG, and calls you raise. He has small pocket pair or suited connector 99% of the time. Continue to raise AJo and better. Folding QKo and KJo, as well as QJo is not bad play at all. These hands are pretty garbage out of position.
MP: You can still fold the QKo, KJo, or QJo, but start loosening up your standards. Start mixing up raising or folding those Axs hands, suited connectors.
Blinds: You want to play real tight in the blinds. Calling too many raises out of position is just a death trap. You donít want to build big pots with marginal holdings in the blinds. Fold suited connectors, Axs, call with pocket pairs obviously.
But just because you are playing tight in the blinds doesnít mean you are a big sissy either. Facing a button raise or an MP raise, if you hold hands like AK, AQ, JJ, 1010, RERAISE. Itís much much better to reraise these hands in the blinds that many SSNL players normally just call with.
Reraising these hands start to become advanced play so be careful. New players trying these things out often lose stacks because they are out of position and are bad post flop players.
You are in BB or SB with AK, AQ, JJ. UTG limps, MP limp, button limps. What do you do?
Answer: RAISE THAT [censored] UP. Raise it up to 6-7 even 8x bb depending on players. Take down the pot without even seeing a flop is better than checking and playing a multiway un raised pot.
Raising all these hands allows you to play raised pots against players that have no idea of positional or image. You will stack them more often than not. And donít sissy up on continuation bets. Bet 75-90% of the time no matter board texture. Only if 2 people call you and u completely missed the flop can you decide to check and give up on the pot.
You have A8s on the button, UTG limps, you raise 5x BB and get called by BB and UTG. Flop comes 48Q rainbow. BET 100% of the time if checked to you.
That covers the BASICS of positional preflop play.
Another thing which I think is standard to most people but may not, is combo draws.
Hands where you have say 13-15 outs on the flop should be taken to the felt.
Here is an example of properly playing a combo draw. Same goes with open ended straight and flush draws. Play these hands strong and very fast. There is a ton of fold equity as well as getting money in being a 50/50 if they do decide to take their hand to the felt with you.
Best case scenario for the hand I played above is that everyone folds. Making them fold in spots like this is what makes playing combo draws this way profitable. You donít profit by them calling a 50/50 shot. You profit making them fold.
I wanted to talk more about 2nd barrels, increasing range of reraising hands preflop, and pot control, but that is a bit more advanced than the basics and maybe Iíll write something later on.
In conclusion. Donít make dramatically changes to your game. Start implementing one concept at a time. Donít start raising 6-7% more hands just because I told you. Start one different hand at a time and slowly make changes.
I hope this helps the struggling low stakes player out there. If you keep these strategies and tactics in mind, it will definitely improve your play.
Image goes hand in hand with which hands you decide to play, and how you play the CO / button.
Expect an article on image and changing gears within next few days.
Post flop play and hand reading has so much to do with your reads / table dynamics / situation that it is quite hard to cover in writing.
If you want to see hand reading / post flop play. I really advise you guys to sign up at cardrunners.com (85 bucks for 6 months I think, not sure) and watch videos of a 10 000 NL player playing lower stakes. His explanations are worth its weight in gold.
I am no way affiliated with him but his videos have changed my game dramatically.