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Six to Nine

Lately, my blog has been little more than a journal. In the interest of returning to my poker pontificating roots, today we will examine the differences between playing limit poker at a full 9 or 10-person table and a 6-person table. This posting is dedicated to SteelerJosh, whose recent comment got me thinking of this very subject.

I've been playing .25/.50 limit poker on Noble Poker, in an effort to win the Limit Challenge against DNasty. Unfortunately, Noble only has one .25/.50 limit table, and its a six-seater. This is not a problem for me, as I generally prefer short-handed games. In contrast, on my recent Atlantic City trip, I played 2/4 limit with full ten-person tables. Between the two, I much prefer the short-handed games. However, others, including SteelerJosh prefer the full tables . Steeler, if you get a chance, please feel free to post why. To me, it is practically a no-brainer. Six-seaters are the way to go. I suppose different playing styles require different tables. However, I'm still a six-seater kind of guy.

There are definite advantages to the six-seater games.

1. You can play more hands. With less competition at the table, it is less likely that your opponents will have a premium hand. Therefore, hands that could be considered "problem hands", such as QJo, JTo, KTo, etc., can be played more often. If you can't follow the logic, I'll type r e a l l y s l o w.

Some players like to play KTo because they are two high cards. These players are what we call fish. Excuse the over-generalizations. The problem is, when playing KT with 9 other players at the table, someone might have AT or AK or KQ or KJ. This is an even greater problem when you flop a K72, for instance. "Yeah! Top pair," you think. But your bets are being called down, and then you are re-raised on the river. That is because one of the other players has the damn KJ, and you are going to lose! Suddenly, you are stupid for even playing the KT in the first place. On the other hand, if there were only five other players at the table, the chances of them having the K or T is much lower.

Really, you should be more patient at a full table, because the blinds come around slower. You don't have to make moves as much because you can sit there folding for an hour and only give up 6 big blinds and 6 small blinds, assuming 60 hands per hour (closer to live action than online action). On the other hand, if you are playing with 6 players, that 60 hands will cost you 10 big blinds and 10 small blinds for the same hour, if you fold the entire time. Assuming that small and big blinds $1/2 (as in the Atlantic city 2/4 game), that hour will cost you a mere $18 at the full table, and a whole $30 at the 6-seater. Hence the need to make moves at the 6-seater.

Lets do some math. At a 10-person table, if you have JT, the chance of one of the other players have a dominating hand (TT, TQ, TK, TA, JJ, JQ, JK, JA) is about 39.6%. The chance that the player has two overcards (QQ, QK, KK, KA, AA), is 24.2%. In other words, there almost a 65% chance that someone at that table has you beat. If the table is 6-hands, then the chance of the other 5 players have a dominating hand is 22%, and the chance of them having two overcards is 13.5%. Suddenly, there is only a 35% chance that you are dominated or facing two overcards, and your JT just got a whole lot better. (Note: I'm not suggesting you play JTo) (2nd Note: My math is done pretty loosely. I may have missed a .01 here or there. Also, I did not consider when a player has only one overcard, which is also important information.)

My brain hurts. But I'm not done.

2. Its easier to bluff. When a flop comes, its a lot more likely that no one will hit it. Therefore, if you lead out with a bluff, players may be more likely to fold. I say, "may be" because at the micro-limits I play, players will often call with Ace high or an inside straight draw. I'm still a little math dizzy, so I'm not running the numbers. Regardless, clearly, when there are less players, you can bluff more, assuming that you are at the limits at which players will fold.

3. Less suck-outs. When you are holding AA, and there are 9 other players at the table, it isn't absurd for half of them to limp and then call your raise. In the end, you are facing 5 other players who might hit their 2-pair, trips, or other suck-out hand. In 6-seaters, the most you have to worry about is 5 callers. More likely, you'll be in there with 4 or less. Its a minor difference, but a difference nonetheless. On the other hand, you will have less players paying you out when the Aces hold up. That said, I live in a place called Suck Out City, so I want to push players out as soon as possible.

I've gone blank on other reasons why 6-person tables are the way to go. For a player like myself, who likes to play lots of hands and give/get action, its the only way to play. 10-seaters put me to sleep. On the other hand, for a patient grinder, 10-seaters clearly have their benefit.

There you have it. I clearly started the post strong, and then fizzled out. As a quick update, I played on the limit challenge for a good while last night. I was down about $10 or more, but surged after getting AA, followed by JJ, followed by 22 which hit the set on the turn. After that, I had most of the players on the rope, including some good banter putting one player on tilt. I worked on focusing on that particular player, a move that I usually don't do. But I'm learning that focusing on the fish or the tilts is a profitable move, and I intend to try it some more in the very near future. In the end, I was up about $5 or so. I think overall, I'm up $18, but don't hold me to it. Keep reading. I'll keep posting.

posted by Jordan @ 3:42 PM,


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