13/07/2009

Seat Selection in Six Max Limit Hold'em

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

Despite the fact that I don't play much limit hold'em these days (actually try non), some things never change. Seat selection is paramount now above certain levels and getting a bad seat on a bad table at six max can be a licence to lose money. I think you definitely need to be able to walk away from a table if the proper seat isn't available.

In my opinion not enough people do this, this certainly applies to the intermediate levels but I would imagine most pro's at six max both in limit and no-limit practice seat selection as well as game selection.

As a rule of thumb, you are likely going to know most of the regs anyway. But if I noticed that a six max game had a couple of strong regs with stats at around 28/18 and 33/25 and was only going to be five handed after I sat down, straight away this would be a game that I would probably not sit down in to be honest.

The other two players would merit close investigation and if one was a 21/14 rock and the other player was unknown to me then I would probably look for a better game. At the very least you know that the two regs are strong players and the rock isn't going to be giving you tons of value. This just leaves the unknown player who you don't have any data on and who could easily be a decent player.

The level of rake in six max games can be brutal so you need good games to compensate for that unless you happen to be propping and getting 100% plus. This is where having good statistics is invaluable and having a sniffer is even more invaluable in limit than no-limit in my opinion. You don't have the luxury of being able to stack a weak player in limit and this tends to mean that you need to be sitting in an ideal spot so that you can either isolate them with position or attack their blinds.

Even then, an ideal seat in a bad game can still work against you in many ways. However there are times when it can work in your favour as well. For example, a good reg starts to widen his range in the cut-off in order to attack a weak big blind, the next step would be to 3-bet lighter than what you normally would. Despite this, I would still not look to get involved with table line ups where the value was thin at best.

This is mainly to do with the level of variance in limit hold ‘em which is severe at the best of times. In fact the required bankrolls in limit hold ‘em have risen sharply at levels like $20-$40 and $30-$60 over the past couple of years.

This has never sat well with me and was why I switched to no-limit. Basically I would be looking for at least two players in a six handed game who had statistics outside of 22%-35% VPIP and 17%-25% PFR. Ideally I would look for three players who were outside these parameters but that can be problematical these days as you may end up not playing at all most of the time.

But it has always been my philosophy to lower my earnings by lowering variance. This wouldn't sit well with many players and rightly so (it would be strange if we all thought and acted alike), but its just a strange quirk of my personality and there are probably strong underlying traits to my character that indicate that I don't actually like the bloody game. So I would gladly pass up sitting in games that many players would play in and go and do something else... like write another boring article for instance (only joking).

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