06/12/2007

Avoiding Trouble Situations

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

Just like to say what a nice article Vicky C’s was last week where she talked about “helping players to play badly”. Irrespective of the hand example that was in that article, that one statement and the deep underlying meanings behind it tell me that Vicky is one tough poker playing lady…..but we already knew that didn’t we.

I have been asked by several people if I will do a few articles on limit hold’em over the past few weeks as a few of you enjoyed my last ones. I will get around to that in the coming week or so. But I just want to highlight a few plays that help me to sometimes get an edge in a $10-$20 game at NL six max.

I realise that this level will be higher than what many of you play but the purpose of this is to inform any potential $3-$6 player that they might have to ditch their existing strategies if they desire on playing $10-$20 or higher.

Have you ever been in a situation where you have raised from early position with a premium hand like aces? Of course you have, the game is quite loose and you get called in a couple of spots including the tight but decent player on the button.

It is a fact that all hands play better with position even pocket rockets and is why position is so important in a game like no limit hold’em. The flop comes J109. You bet the pot and get called again by the button and the other player in the big blind.

Just how do you like those aces now? You have to choose between continuing to bet into what is an absolute nightmare of a board and losing the initiative and checking. Either play is not very palatable simply because the situation is so precarious.

We have all been there and ended up doing the wrong thing in situations like these but there is another way.

Firstly before the knives come out, I am not about to say that you should always open limp with aces in early position at any limit. What I am about to say is that open limping provides a very interesting and viable alternative to conventionally raising in certain situations.

Nobody likes to play a hand out of position and an early position under the gun raise is basically telling your opponents that you have a big hand and especially if they are using PokerTracker and see your VPIP in the low twenties and your PFR at about the 20% mark.

But many players who frequent these games like to use their positional supremacy and if I think that I have one of those players sitting either in the cut-off or on the button then I may limp in and try and let him do my work for me. You can either win a small pot with aces or lose a big one if you are not careful. Well I don’t know about you but I would much rather lose a small pot with aces if I had to lose one at all.

Losing a big pot is not on my agenda and it is highly unlikely that I am going to get someone all in for 100BB pre-flop in a $10-$20 game with anything else except aces or kings and I have the aces. But in situations where there has been no raise then my hand is concealed and I can get away from an awful lot of very dangerous situations with a minimum loss.

But an opening raise to $70 with the rockets from under the gun will not always deter strong players from coming after you and if your post flop play is not as strong as it could be then limp/re-raising may be your best alternative. This is especially the case in tight aggressive games where players like to exploit position in the conventional way.

If you get a raiser in the cut off seat or on the button then your re-raise will either win a small pot (good result) or get the pot heads up (good result). Either way, you avoid having to play a potentially tricky situation from out of position potentially against multiple opponents. This can be a good ploy to make against known multi-tablers who simply cannot closely watch all the games that they are in.

Any decent player is going to have a fairly wide raising range in late position after a lone single limper has entered the pot. They could be raising with all pocket pairs and Broadway hands as well as many suited connector type hands.

It is a fact that many players sit there and wait for premium hands only to then get themselves into trouble once they arrive. But this limp re-raise play is best used sparingly and when you have a firm grasp of how your opponents to your left play and what style they have. You don’t always have to raise with aces or any other hand before the flop.

It is worth mentioning once again that it is wrong to just blindly make any play in poker without planning it first and this means understanding your opposition. Once you know that then the automatic play may not be as automatic as what you think!

Anyone who wishes to discuss this article with me is welcome to do so either through the forum or through my website at www.pokersharkpool.com.

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