30/03/2009

Finding the Proper Balance Around the Blinds in Small Stakes Full Ring

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

Burgeamon was the driving force behind the topic of my article this week when he posted about his 10k hand break even stretch at NL50. Actually it was only afterwards that I realised that I had replied to that post presuming that it was FR and not six-max (don’t know why).

But in full-ring, your play in an around the blinds will constitute the bread and butter earn rate. You will make money from weaker players too and even some regs but correct play in and around the blinds will be crucial to your overall earn rate. The reason why I am talking about NL50 is because I have played an awful lot of it recently on Cake Poker.

There are methods to my apparent madness and I am trying to show that a player can make a living (albeit a mediocre one) with little starting capital playing a lower variance system at NL50 and possibly NL100 too. Time will only tell if I am successful but I have enjoyed the process. But I have discovered that players at NL50 deserve more respect than what I had been originally giving them which is my own stupid fault and serves me right for being so bloody conceited.

You can make money at these levels but it is a grind but grinding has never been high on my list of qualities so this will be a good test of my character as well. But one of the mistakes that I was making was that I was attacking the blinds too liberally everytime it was folded to me and also attacking limpers on too wide a range.

I was also conceding too much from the big blind by folding too much of my range to frequent stealers in the belief that money would come more easily than it did through players stacking off. I took some very sound advice from a player who plays NL50 and NL100 full-time and I think that I may have turned the corner. I don’t have the benefit of using tracking software on Cake which is a bonus too of course as others cannot use it either.

I have also noticed that the average stack sizes in these games are usually in the region of 60-70BB which means that you don’t always get the proper implied odds with speculative hands like pocket pairs and suited connectors as many players have less than this on the table. The short stacks are somewhat of a hindrance as many of them are merely waiting for the right moment to stack off.

I have been flicking through the Harrington Cash game series lately and I must confess that these books have altered my thinking slightly in certain situations. One of those was in my play in the big blind against a stealer in NL50 FR. I now use a basic range mentioned by Harrington in book one when dealing with a frequent stealer. This range gives me enough equity against a player who is raising with a fairly high percentage of their range according to Pokerstove.

I then balance my play between 3-betting pre-flop or calling and then possibly looking to make a move on the flop. Obviously I need some makeshift system that will do relatively well playing at least six tables. I also think that the time has come to reduce my raising range from the hijack-button as well. I think that too many players expect this play and know the relative size of your range. In times gone by you could get away with this but now more players are floating or three betting even in NL50.

Maybe it is a weakness in my system (it more than likely is) but these levels don’t seem easy to beat to me yet I know that some players make $2000-$3000 a month from these games with rakeback and multi-tabling. I would prefer to play this at PL instead because at least then the short stackers cannot stack off pre-flop. Actually I would appreciate any assistance from forum members who regularly play these levels as I have too much to learn and not an awful lot of time to do it in. Even the players with a few bucks on the table are half decent... what’s the world coming to?

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