08/06/2009

Differences in Stats for Limit Regs

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

Over the years there have been big changes in how the best players have approached limit hold'em. But now the top players have basically figured the game out and finding value in games above $50-$100 these days is like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack.

But the lower limits still harbour decent games as there are still plenty of players who prefer limit hold'em over the more “risky” no limit variety of the game. I have gone on record as saying that I don’t like the game anymore and to a certain extent that is true. Variance has increased substantially over the past couple of years and with it the required bankrolls to ensure against a winning player going busto.

There has been a huge compression of skill in limit based purely on the better players playing at lower levels and multi-tabling. This can make even some games of $3-$6 very tough to beat. But you can achieve good earn rates at the lower levels and especially if you happen to be sitting at a six max table with a couple of losing players.

The rake can also accumulate very rapidly at six max limit as well so a good solid player should be getting a decent four figure sum in rakeback every month four tabling $3-$6. Game selection is still fairly high on the list of priorities and you don’t always need sniffers to beat these games either. For instance on Cake Poker where sniffers are not allowed, you can get some pretty weak players at the lower levels and especially the ones who are drifting across from the sportsbooks.

For those of you of a more technical disposition then the key stats for exploitable players are always good to know. But just how a player becomes exploitable differs depending on the player. If I see someone at 20/14 then this is far too rocky for six handed limit and I know that this is a player who is not raising with the proper designated ranges from position and also someone who may not be adequately defending their blinds.

Despite this if you are getting good rakeback and the sites rake collection policy is one that favours tighter play then even a 20/14 player can make decent money. The kind of player that I don’t like is someone with stats at around 30/22 to say perhaps 35/26, these are the stronger players who are playing well at least pre-flop. Once I see someone hitting 40%+ in six max games then this is a good sign that the player is either too loose or too aggressive or a combination of both.

There are many good intermediate players who could be very good players if only they toned down their aggression. Balance is key in limit and players with stats like 48% VPIP coupled with a PFR of about 40% are players who understand that aggression is key in six max limit play but are overstepping the mark and not achieving the proper frequencies.

Players like these can be very tough to play against for weaker players and rocks and in the right setting, this style can be profitable as well. As you progress through the limits then optimal metrics differ as players become far more aggressive in higher limit games and heads up pots happen more frequently. Most players at the lower levels tend to stick to relatively predictable ranges and this makes devising a counter range a simple process. The major problem with low limit games is being able to stomach the variance and it certainly isn’t for everyone.

Also the beats come thick and fast when you multi-table limit games and tilting can be a serious problem. I think that it is even more critical to play short sessions at limit hold'em than it is at probably any other form of poker and this is especially the case with players with a fragile temperament.

So you can encounter many different types of weakness in a poker game and every style has a weakness, it is that some styles are less exploitable than others. I will be discussing limit play quite a lot over the coming weeks as I haven’t touched on the topic for quite some time. But seeing as all forms of poker have a very close affinity with each other anyway then I hope that these articles will prove instructive to many people.

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