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Limited Love

Here's a fun one for you Limit fans out there. We are at Full Tilt playing 2/4 limit hold'em. I am on the button with AKs. Generally, I play fairly loose at these limit games. I'm not one to go running into a fire with a water gun, but I am willing to squirt a little at the window to see if the fire is burning as bright as it looks. In other words, I play a fairly wide range of hands, especially in position, and have no problem laying pressure on my opponents. But I'm selective, and I'm always conscious of the other guys' ability to actually have a hand. I say this all for two reasons: (1) my table image may appear loose, as though I'm playing a lot of hands and playing aggressively overall, and (2) I'm really playing a very selective careful game.

It folds to me, and with suited AK in a shorthanded limit game, there is really no reason to mess around. I raise from $2 to $4. In many of these situations, you'll get called by any two cards, included K6s or Q9o. Players just want to believe that you are stealing, especially when you seem to be playing a lot of hands aggressively.

The small blind, ComedyOfErrors (COE) calls. From his name alone, we know that he has a sarcastic or ironic sense of humor. That leads me to believe, at least partially, that he is likely to be a bit loose. He is likely not a very straight-laced, tight type of player (or person).

The flop is a beautiful Ac 6s 5h. It checks to me, and I check as well. This is a classic situation I find myself in. On many occassions, the right move would be to bet, since your opponent may think you are bluffing (there is little credibility in shorthanded limit, or so I've found). But he will have to call from out of position, and it is HIGHLY likely that even if he thought I had nothing preflop, just seeing that Ace will scare him off. It is also extremely likely that he has not hit the board. An Ace would have bet out, thinking that I'd call down with an inferior hand, since I was the initial aggressor.

The turn is a 6d, and I'm worried for about .5 seconds until COE checks. He doesn't have the 6 either. I'm confident because there is no reason NOT to bet here, if he had it. Hell, he would've bet on the flop with a 6, knowing that the Ace might scare me off even if I have a pocket pair about a 6. What do I do? If I bet, we have the same situation as the flop, only WORSE. The $4 bet into the $10 pot is even scarier than the $2 bet that would've come on the flop. So, betting really is out of the question, since I'm confident that I am ahead, but I am also confident that he is willing to fold. I'll only have one more card coming, so I also want to set him up to think that I was either trying to steal preflop and have since missed the flop entirely, or that I am very scared of that Ace-high flop. I also want to give him a chance to catch a hand. I check.

The river is a 3h. Finally, COE takes the bait and bets. I pause for a moment, channeling my inner-Hoy, and raise. He calls. At showdown, he has K3c. I take down the pot.

So, what happened here? First, I recognized that I was ahead the whole way, and I used that to maximize the amount of chips I could get. I know his range is very wide because of the way this 2/4 limit table is playing. The flop is golden for me, but I know it likely hasn't hit him, so I have to give him a chance to catch up. The turn is negligible, since it matches the flop. He finally hits on the river and bets out of position. It's an easy raise for me, but I stall to continue the story I'm selling.

In Hoy terms, I was telling him that I was trying to steal the blinds with position. Maybe I had KQo, and the flop missed me so I went into a turtle shell. By the time he hits the tiny river card, he thinks he's got me. Clearly, no one would check it down with the Ace...or would they.

Interestingly, you can make the best money when you switch up your play from the usual. Tight players can make their most money when they loosen up on a given hand and scare away their competition. Loose players can make the most money when they slowplay their made hands. Really, this statement isn't succinct. What I really mean to say is that the Big hands, be them in a tournament or cash game, will come when you play against your type. You've seen in my last several You Decides that I seem to get paid best when I play slow, like the AA hand when I got my opponent to push into me. This isn't a new concept either, so I won't pretend that I made it up here. But I wouldn't mind a tight player (GCox, perhaps) to offer some insight into how profitable they are when they switch to an aggressive bluff in any given hand.

The other thing is the general concept behind Limit Hold'em. It is all about each individual bet. Here was a hand where I was able to painstakingly extract an extra 2 BBs ($8). If it was played in an ABC-poker format, those 2 BBs would've been lost. There is always opportunities to extract more, just as there are always opportunities to save money, when the times arise. In another hand I didn't save, I bet the whole way, even capping the flop, but the river sealed my fate. It was just another $4, but when you know you are dead, its time to fold. All the money in the pot won't save me from wasting that $4. That is Limit Hold'em, slugging it out for every single bet you can get.

Truth be told, I've been playing limit games practically exclusively lately. At first, it was under the guise that limit was a safer way to grind through my bonuses. I didn't have to worry about a single suckout or mental fart losing me $100 in a hand. But after I settled in, I really started to enjoy it. The plays are a lot less complicated (betting amounts are set, so no thought there, for instance), and the shorthanded games allow me to play fairly loosely. I also love the fact that my bets are for 2-4$ (and sometimes higher), amounts that I can easily picture in my head, as opposed to raising to $2 preflop in a NL game, which just seems to be a mass of chips only in my head. It's the same bet, but its just easier to quantify in limit. Multi-tabling is easier, thanks to PokerTracker and AceHud, and the level of competition seems basically easy.

In other words, Limit Poker is a shitload of fun. That's where I'll be for the time being, earning my rake (I just took down my first $18.75 of the $187.50 bonus) and running up my roll. My roll is currently down to about $600-700 after my recent withdrawal, so I can use all the bonus and bankroll padding I can get.

Back to the grind for me. Meanwhile, go read yourself a great story by poker role model Scott McMoneybags (McDreamy has been co-opted, as we all well know, but I believe it started with Scott McM before that silly doctor show), and take a look at the 101 Ways to Improve Your Game by that Surly Poker Gnome from a couple of days ago.

Until next time, make mine (limit) poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:14 AM,


At 1:02 PM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

I tend to play more aggressively when I play limit. If you aren't already doing so, bet your draws as often as possible. That not only camoflagues your hand (for example, if the board reads Ks 9h 4s) and if you hit, your opponent, if they're even paying attention, will probably put you on a pair of kings.

Depending on how the table has been reacting, I usually play everything fairly straight forward. Check-raising becomes a much bigger weapon in LHE. The only time I tend to slowplay is when I know I'm way ahead.

If you haven't read it already, go read Jen Harman's section on LHE in Super System 2. TONS of great advice there.

At 1:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, I wrote something similar this morning, only on a broader scale. Bluff money vs. call money.

You aren't getting any call money if you bet the flop or turn, but you let him catch up. His river call was stupid, but it earned you an extra big bet.

Pokerwolf - I play limit aggressively, too. I'll cap a flush draw on the flop to disguise hand strength, etc.

I watch a lot of the higher stakes games on FTP and it's helped me a lot.

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somehow this doesn't appear to be a standard line by an aggressive player. Especially in a shorthanded game. Why give free cards here in a HU sitch? Make him pay for his loose calls. TPTK isn't by any means a monster hand when the big blind is calling with any two s00ted, paint/x, or Ax. Letting him 'catch' can cost you big on later streets.

The phrase, "it depends" springs to mind whether it's right to either fold, call, raise in any given hand in any scenario. I'm also allowing you the leeway of having the 'read' here, and that your playing your game and your style. But I'm thnking value betting is the way to go and you may have missed bets. Giving free cards isn't being aggressive in my mind.

A BB will generally call very liberally with an Ax, Kx in shorthanded AND full ring games, hoping to spike the Ace or King and possibly trap you on later streets.

Value betting, betting for information and building the pot as in defendingtheblinds reply with a flush draw, is a better way to go in my mind.

(If you have two or more opponents in the hand and are holding a huge nut flush draw, you're missing out if you aren't raising and reraising in a loose 2/4 game.)

Pokerwolf is also correct. Harman's stuff on LHE is way good. And to top it off she advocates straight forward play - not FPS stuff (Fancy Play Syndrome).

Personally, looking back I'd love to have won many of the hands on the flop or turn by betting into or reraising, rather than letting someone cath their card to check raise me on the river with. I've lost one too many "big hands" by having too much faith in my AK/Q or even AA/KK and playing a bit too passively with FPS.

Make'em pay! Limit is about extracting bets the whole way. Value betting and getting paid off.

Allowing free cards to beat you in a small pot is -EV long term. Some wil say by waiting to bet you're not giving proper pot odds for your opponent to call with and he's making a mistake by calling you there.

Others say he's making a mistake by initially calling your raise so make him pay the whole way. Compound his mistake by raising the pot and not allowing him the free card to steal the pot from you.

Flashbacks of someone hitting middle or bottom pair and taking one off on the turn to hit two pair and cut my AK/AA down are coming back to haunt me.

I'm aggressive when I hit or have a big draw with overs and backdoor possiblities and at 2/4 and 3/6 you need to make them pay for their msitakes and misplays. Not allow them to catch up.

Well thought out hand though. Keep it up, good stuff.

At 7:44 PM, Blogger Gnome said...

Hey, thanks for the shout-out!
As I was reading this post, I kept thinking to myself that you should have bet the flop. But it turns out that you played the hand perfectly. Very interesting.
Keep it up!


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