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Mixed Game Evangelical

I had a nice conversation yesterday on the girlie chat with DP from Wired Pairs. A couple of days ago, I jokingly posted a fake quote which I attributed to him. It was a reaction to a comment he made to an earlier post in which he suggested that I was a mixed game snob. Our conversation cleared the air. I don't begrudge anyone from playing NLHE and only NLHE. It doesn't affect me, and part of my newly-identified libertarian beliefs (I always had these beliefs, but only recently realized their association with libertarian ideals), is to let people do whatever they want as long as they are not hurting someone else.

There are a lot of good reasons to specialize in NLHE cash games, NLHE tournaments, or a combination of the two. The greatest one that comes to mind is that if you concentrate on one game, you may stand a better chance to excel at that game. It's the ole Jack of all trades, Master of none argument. If you play too many games, you may become adequate across the board, but you are unlikely to Master any particular one.

NLHE is also probably the ideal game to specialize in, if you wish to specialize. Obviously, its the most popular game around, so you'll have more opportunities to play it over any other game. Then there is the hordes of unwashed masses piling into B&M card rooms and sitting in their BVDs playing online. Donkeys galore, I tell ya, so why not concentrate on NLHE games.

And this doesn't even mention the fact that some players may be naturally better suited toward NLHE. This, actually, segues nicely into the true point of this post. Sure, I've gone over the various reasons why playing a variety of games are good. But what about the player who only plays NLHE who actually is better suited to play LHE, or Omaha, or one of any number of games.

I believe it was Howard Lederer who said that it was good to play a variety of games because that was how he learned that he was a naturally better LHE player than NLHE. The same could possibly be true for any number of players.

Ironically, me and my loose self tend to do better at the limit games. In a tournament, I'd rather be playing NL. It's just part and parcel to the nature of tournaments. You want people to get knocked out, you are dealing with a finite amount of chips, and your losses are capped to the buy-in. But in cash games (online, specifically), I find myself sometimes too loose, relying on pressure and my ability to rebuy.

Not so with limit games. There, my too loose blow-ups don't result in an all-in. It results in a loss of a few extra big bets. Similarly, I actually seem to excel specifically at Razz, because it requires board reading skills and the application of pressure, but not necessarily the extent of board reading skills and memorization required for Stud High, since flushes and straights don't matter in Razz.

Similarly, my ability to read the boards and sequence cards has made LO8 a favorite and profitable game of mine. I believe it has a lot of parallels with my Razz strengths, except for the greater emphasis on reading outs and draws.

So, yeah, I'm not saying YOU should HAVE TO play games other than NLHE. But I was pontificating on how players' personalities and natural abilities could offer them greater success with different types of games. Stud and Stud H/L aid players who have a great memory and ability to remember which cards are already dealt out (even after a player folds and covers his board). Razz aids players who are good at playing boards and applying pressure. Omaha aids those good at draws, calculating outs, and calculating redraws. Limit games in general, with LHE included, aids players who emphasize good starting hands, and protects those who have momentary all-in blow-ups or those who can't handle the variance of losing an entire buy-in in one hand.

Am I proselytizing again? I don't mean to. It's just that I'm playing a lot more non-Hold'em games right now, and, well, I write about what I'm doing. Case in point, I lost $150 at 5/10 Razz last night and placed 22 (16 paid) out of 160+ in a Razz MTT (where I bumped into Mowenumdown before busting...I hope he moneyed). As I type, I'm also playing 1/2 Duece-to-Seven Triple Draw on Stars. I love the non-hold'em games, mostly for their new car smell. It's just fresh and new for me, and it appeals a bit more to my gambling nature, since I'm not used to these games like I am with the hold'em games.

In Hold'em news, I've got the $300 WSOP Circuit event on Saturday. My nervousness is slowly rising, and I'm trying to keep things in perspective. The hardest part is remembering that the level of competition may actually be WORSE than my usual lower stakes, rather than better. I base this off of advice from a couple of people, but also based on the fact that the WSOP name probably attracts every bar-poker-champion wannabe around, and I'm playing the lowest buy-in, $300+40, where all of these donkeys will probably be playing.

Any advice you have out there would be greatly appreciated. Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:17 PM,


At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Any advice you have out there would be greatly appreciated."

--> Repeat the Phil Hellmuth mantra "play great poker, play great poker, ..."

--> Don't forget to take a cup ;)

--> Have fun and play YOUR game

That's all for now...good luck!

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Libertarian, eh? Now you too can confuse people and have them ask, "Why would you want to throw your vote away?" during election time. Welcome to the club!

I'd play the WSOP like a low to mid-level buy-in online MTT. You're 100% correct that the level of play isn't going to be as high as you're used to playing. Especially if you consider blogger tournaments. I wouldn't play ABC poker, but don't try to get too fancy. Let the table tell you how you should play your hands.

Personally, I wouldn't get that nervous about things. First off, it's a tournament. Second of all, you have a solid game. Be confident of your reads and go play. You'll do fine. With or without good starting cards. That's how your game works.

If you find yourself getting really nervous or feeling overwhelmed, go ahead and have a beer. One. Singular. Especially if it's a half hour or more until the start of the tournament. You might want to eat before you start playing too. Might not be a bad idea.

Most of all? Go have fun. I'm betting all of the "bar league heroes" are going to be nervous and serious as hell, which means they're going to tilt like windmills if something goes wrong. Try to relax and have a good time. I don't know if you're a talker at the table, but chatting people up might not be a bad idea.

Go get 'em, Jordan! Play smart!Pussy poker is not allowed!

At 2:10 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Good luck biatch.. You have been on a good run and this can be an extension of it.. I am not sure how many live MTTs you have played.. I know I have not played many and so far they frazzle me a little.. Just think about what your doing a little before you do it and you should be fine. I hope you win!

At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

gl on the tourney this weekend and good post...just be patient and not scared to go w/ur gut u'll be alright

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

One more thing since I forgot to bring it up:

I think I'm a "limit guy" too. I can handle stacks in tourneys, but I don't handle getting stacked in one hand very well at all. I might still play NL or PL games every once in awhile, but I'll probably stick to limit games unless it's a tourney.

I'm surprised you don't play more HORSE tourneys, even though they're limit. Any specific reason you want to avoid those or are those an exception to your limit tourney rule?

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've proven yourself to be a great tournament player, Jordan. Just play like you do in our blogger tournaments, don't talk yourself into putting opponents on too many steals and play aggressively and you'll be great.


At 3:11 PM, Blogger NewinNov said...

Good luck on your tourney. I'll probably be there to play the event on Tuesday. It's a big chunk o'change for me but what the hell.

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Any advice you have out there would be greatly appreciated."


At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My suggestion is to do what you think you need to do to get chips. I know--my thought process is very complex.

Good luck, sir.

At 12:32 AM, Blogger SIF said...

You can often play looser in NL/PL games than limit ones if you can fold an obvious loser (and be willing to occasionally fold the better hand). Because I'm loose, I actually tend to prefer that limit poker, as I find the loose play is more costly there because I can't make back my mistakes with implied odds.

I also wrote a long post a while back about how playing mixed games actually improves your play in all games, and the most common game might easily become less common over time. If you are chasing EV primarily, learning other games is important. It doesn't have the same "master of none" effect if you keep most of your time in your primary game.

At 12:39 AM, Blogger Wes said...

I think if you are looking to overcome boredom, playing different games is the way to go. If you are looking to just be the most profitable player though, sticking to one games and mastering that game is better.

The first case was what made me a solid player, but the second case is what has made me such a profitable player. I can play different games, but NLHE is definately my bread and butter.

At 7:54 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Best of luck brotha. Looking very much forward to reading all about your cash man.

Best advice I can give about a live WSOP Circuit Event is to remember how much slower the pace of the live game is than the online game. If you haven't seen any pocket pairs or strong Aces in your entire first hour at the tables, that's no big deal and it isn't time to call the allin reraise preflop with your A7s. Remember, an hour of cold deckage in a live tournament is like 3 or 4 hours online. Just keep your cool and play your game man.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck bro. I wound up finishing 3rd in that razz multi. Razz is turning into my favorite game. I have made 4 final tables in razz multis over the last four weeks or so.


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