Dear old Cottlad gave me the idea for this weeks article (sometimes I get stumped for what to write and who to direct it at on here) when he mentioned about transferring from NL to Limit. I have never made this transition as I went the other way but I believe that a true conversion isn’t as simple as many people believe.
I think that your subconscious impacts on how you play a lot more than what you may think. I also don’t think that this effect is as pronounced when you play a completely different game like switching from hold ‘em to Omaha for instance. It is still a factor in Omaha as novice players do still compare hold ‘em hands to Omaha hands but the fact is that you are playing an almost entirely different game and that can keep you in check in certain situations.
I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago how I inadvertently overplayed big pocket pairs in NLHE ring whenever I multi-tabled. Yet I didn’t do this when I single tabled. Did the fact that I was multi-tabling mean that I was focusing less per table and my actions were becoming automated and previous behaviour (of playing limit) was impacting my game?
Most of the time going to the river with premium pairs is pretty much standard in limit in heads up situations and its possible that this line of thinking was still impacting on my no-limit game when I didn’t have enough time to think the situation through by playing more tables. A couple of automated mouse clicks and suddenly I am at the river in an escalated pot and then feeling that I have to pay off.
Although maybe this isn’t a common theme but my own lack of mental flexibility... who knows. But what this shows is that one of the biggest advantages that you can have as a cash game player is to stick with the same game. I have often said in the past how changing games can help to freshen up your poker but just how wise is this line of thinking?
If your game is becoming stale then you may be better off taking a break from the game rather than switching games and having to build up that feel again and risk not being able to adequately make the shift mentally to playing another game. But thinking about this for a minute and there has to be problems with shifting between NL to limit as well.
It is all very well learning theory but theory doesn’t create automated behaviour, only repeated practice can do that. Because both limit and no-limit hold ‘em involve having a two card starting hand, three card flop, turn and river then just how impartial can you be when you shift from one form of poker to the other?
Can you be certain that during crucial pots, you are not thinking like the no-limit player that you are? That hand in limit hold ‘em where you called your opponents turn bet with a marginal hand with another player to speak behind you instead of raising... were you going into pot control no-limit mode all because you didn’t want to escalate the pot with a hand that couldn’t merit the extra action?
I have switched games several times over the years (by switching I mean to make another form of poker my main game) and looking back, it probably didn’t do me any favours. I went from limit hold’em to SNG’s and from SNG’s to NLH and I also had a brief flirtation with PLO.
But my best years in terms of results always came when I played the same game without shifting. Sometimes I think that boredom often gets repaid in poker as does grinding. It is often very tempting when you hear about how well others are doing at another poker form to want to play that game. But if you are successful where you are then why risk rocking the boat for a few extra dollars an hour at best? By winning money at all then you are already in very selective company.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson can also be found playing free poker