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The Snowmen

It's about time I got to some in depth poker analysis. In that vein, I present to you, my analysis of the Snowmen, 88.

The Snowmen are a tricky hand. I'll be focusing on pre-flop play, because post-flop really depends a lot on how you set up your hand. The two primary ways to play 88 are to either raise or limp. Position matters. If you are in late position and face a significant raise and re-raise those 88s may be folded. But let's simplify everything. My basic question is, what is your goal with 88 preflop? Do you want to thin the crowd so there are less over-cards out there that may pair the flop? Do you want to limp in cheap to hit a set or all undercards?

I've played it both ways, and you should too. That's what you call being unpredictable. But in general, which is the preferred way? Both moves have their benefit.

In general, I am (was) from the raising camp. You raise for 2 reasons. One, you might get JTo, K9 or other overcards to fold, so when the 9 or T high board comes you won't be as scared. Two, when a flop comes off that looks harmless but isn't particularly helpful, you can continuation bet and win the hand with your pre-flop and post-flop demonstration of strength

The pitfalls of this approach are also two-fold. First, if you miss your set and there are scare-cards out there, you may have to check-fold. You're losing more money than if you limped because of your pre-flop raise. Second, you may be caught by a stronger hand pre-flop and be re-raised. Table conditions will factor in on whether you fold there. Either way, you are exposing your bankroll to these pitfalls. There are other ones too, like if your raise is called by the player next to act, pot odds may encourage a bunch of callers with marginal hands to play anyway. I'm sure you can think of other ones. But these are the most prevalent to me.

On the flip-side, limping with 88 can be cheap, but offers little return unless you hit your set. For instance, you limp in a full NL ring game in MP with 88 and there are 5 players in the hand on the flop. The flop comes down Q23. The player before you checks. What do you do? There could be a AQ, KQ, QJ, or QT limping in from late position. You've effectively lost the hand by allowing a lot of limpers. You may still have the best of it, but you have to slow down and most bluffs from late position will force you to fold. How about a T34 flop, or a J92 flop. Not AS scary, but if you had bet pre-flop and thinned the herd to one or two other players, the chance of them holding the T, 9 or J lessens significantly.

The benefit of limping is that you can fold for a mere BB. And if you hit, you can possibly get action, like when you hit an AJ8 board. Suddenly, those Ace-rags you let in will pay you off. But you will only hit your set approximately 12% of the time. And if the flop is 823, you may not get any action anyway. Worse, you can hit your set and lose to an over-set or a flush/straight.

After all of this analysis, I'd like to say that I have an answer. Sorry folks. I don't. I do see this. My move, raising pre-flop, is a dangerous one, and should not be done all of the time. In fact, it may make the most sense when you are in late position and have already seen most players fold. Otherwise, if there are a lot of limpers, an even larger raise pre-flop may be called for to thin the herd and show your dominance. However, if you are in early position, the limp is your best bet. You can fold for cheap, and call it a day.

Typing this, I see how utterly simple this analysis is. Most players do what I suggest intuitively. Otherwise, it is probably discussed in Super/System or some other how to book. Even so, I had 88 a handfull of times yesterday. At one point, I had 88 at two different tables on two different sites at the same time. I lost both.

Snowmen are tricky bitches, that's for sure. Let me know what you think. Set me straight. Hell, I can use all the help I can get.

posted by Jordan @ 11:18 AM,

14 Comments:

At 12:41 PM, Anonymous TripJax said...

I've been using the limp, then flop or drop theory with the occasional raise preflop and bet post flop if I don't bet.

To be honest, at the 1/2 level, my play has been pretty much cookie cutter. I rarely ever bluff, I play my hands strong if I have it and play them with caution if I don't have it or I'm drawing to it. Seems people call pretty much anything so I see no need in wasting money bluffing or trying to trap too often...

 
At 1:39 PM, Anonymous GaryC said...

I'm with Trip at the Limit tables, especially at the levels that I play. I'm limping in and either flopping a set or folding. No two ways around it for me. Every single time I raise pre-flop with a middle pair, the flop is all overs, every.single.time. I flop a set and dominate or I fold cheaply. That's just my opinion and I've been told I was wrong before.

BTW, Happy early Birthday too.

G

 
At 3:47 PM, Anonymous Lady Falcon said...

I agree with the "limp & fold if no set hits the flop" school of thought -- with the exception that once in a while (especially if you've been playing very tightly for awhile at the same table), you should raise the hand preflop and then bet/raise it hard on the flop and turn (ie, play those snowmen like they're pocket kings or aces).

As long as you're not playing at a "no fold'em hold'em" table, that move might bring you a few extra bucks here and there.

And, if you're caught bluffing, the move might get you some extra action for awhile.

Play hard,

Lady F.

 
At 4:13 PM, Anonymous niv said...

i think in ring games, limping and hoping for the set will make you profit every time. as a much better poker player than me once said, "sets are golden"

 
At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Jordan from HighOnPoker said...

Okay, let me ask this...

If the table is short-handed, 6 players, does that change anyone's opinion?

And is there anyone on the pre-flop bet team?

 
At 4:32 PM, Anonymous GaryC said...

Here are my only thoughts regarding raising pre-flop:

1)IF it's a short-handed table.
2)IF it is an extremely tight table.

If I think they will fold to my raise, then I will raise. That being said, I have NEVER played on a Limit table where everyone will fold, short-handed or full ring.

My problem with the raise is the obligatory continuation bet after everyone checks to you no matter the flop. They will trap you every time and if they check in that instance, I feel obligated to fire at the pot again, no matter the flop.

Hit the set or fold meekly.

G

 
At 6:48 PM, Anonymous CJ said...

Here's my style, and I'm talking tourney poker only.

In most cases, I will simply limp with pocket pairs from 22 to 99. If there is a raise in front of me, I will generally call up to 1/10th of my stack assuming I am at or above average stack at the time. If I don't hit a set, all undercards or a GREAT draw, I lay them down. Getting tricky with a pocket pair that misses is -EV.

 
At 6:50 PM, Anonymous littleacornman said...

I agree with Trip and Lady F and would say the same applies at nl 6max.Depends on the table though.At a wild table I'd probably limp everytime but like Lady F said if you have a tight image and good postion playing them as if you have bullets or snowmen should take the pot.Even if you lose if you showdown 88 you'll get less respect for future raises when you do have a monster hand preflop.


If I'm playing at at tight table I'd probably raise and almost always make a pot or 3/4 pot continuation bet from most positions.

Good idea for a post.Pick a hand and disect how to play it in different situations.Hope you haven't patented it yet!

I'd probably play 1010 the same way although I used to be more agressive pf with it.Any thoughts?

Oh and enjoy your birthday week.( well I tried to persuade Mrs A thats how long the celebrations and breakfasts in bed should last!)

 
At 7:57 PM, Anonymous kipper said...

I guess for it would depend alot on the circumstances MTT, Limit, NL, and perhaps a SnG.

In the 'micro' limits like I been playing on Titan. I would reraise preflop more so from late position if not alot of people in. And then go from there to see what the flop looked like and see how many are in the field.

In a SnG it also depends on position and what stage of the SnG (early or late) late in tournament with low chip stack I would be agressive. Early I tend to be passive hoping to get a set on the flop and go from there.

MTT or NL I dont play a whole lot to really make a decision.

Anyway thats my 2 cents...

 
At 9:22 PM, Anonymous DP said...

All this applies to NL.
If I limp preflop in a 6 handed NL game and someone re-raises me preflop, I'll decide if they have 99 - AA. If I don't have a read on that player I would call and try to get a good flop otherwise I may do something nuts like go all in preflop (although hardly ever).

Usually I'm going to raise preflop, especially at a 6 handed NL table because even if everyone calls, as long as no one has 99 - AA then it's +EV otherwise you may have huge implied odds if they have you beat preflop.

Then again, I pretty much raise with anything in No Limit... hands like Q9s.

 
At 12:19 AM, Anonymous DP said...

anyway, looking through my hand histories, this is how you play snowmen...

#Game No : 2850359779
***** Hand History for Game 2850359779 *****
$2000 NL Texas Hold'em - Sunday, October 09, 07:03:11 EDT 2005
Table Table 64778 (No DP) (Real Money)
Seat 6 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 1: ahlee23 ( $507 )
Seat 3: The3King ( $1921 )
Seat 4: cardsharkk04 ( $2758 )
Seat 5: Inferno2000 ( $378 )
Seat 6: pancakes76 ( $575 )
Seat 7: CB_22 ( $3242 )
Seat 8: Surfin_Dude ( $2052 )
Seat 9: GratisGryn ( $2402 )
Seat 10: fluxer ( $2292.50 )
Seat 2: asuscott ( $900 )
CB_22 posts small blind [$10].
GratisGryn posts big blind [$20].
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to fluxer [ 8h 8s ]
fluxer raises [$70].
ahlee23 folds.
asuscott folds.
The3King folds.
cardsharkk04 calls [$70].
Inferno2000 folds.
pancakes76 folds.
CB_22 folds.
GratisGryn folds.
** Dealing Flop ** [ 2h, 5h, Ah ]
fluxer bets [$300].
cardsharkk04 folds.
fluxer does not show cards.
fluxer wins $467
Game #2850360955 starts.

 
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