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May 05, 2006


Posted at May 5, 2006 04:23 PM in Beginner Topics , by The Padawan.

Hi everyone. Sorry I have not written in a while, but I have been on an intense poker research project that I would like to share with you.

In NL holdem, there are really just 3 games. Ring games are the basic for NL poker, and I enjoyed those for a while. The only problem with them that I see is the rate of return is too low.
You see, I got into poker for the fun, mental challenge, and the money. I want to play in a way that maximizes all three of these, and ring games don’t seem to do that for me. All the experts seem to agree that the return on ring games is 2-4 times the big blind per hour, for a good, solid player. So that means that at $0.50 - $1.00 NL I should expect to make $2 -$4 bucks an hour?!? That is a waste of my time brother. I want my poker to make me enough money that I do not have to work any overtime at my real job to get all the goodies I want for my new house. $2 bucks an hour just aint gonna cut it, bub. Now, I have been told about playing 4 or 6 or even 8 games at once. I have 3 problems with this. First, I do not want to keep a bankroll large enough to play that many tables with the proper safety margin. Second, My PC is about 5 years old, and I am considerably older, so my eyes do not like super duper high resolution, so my tables will overlap, a lot. Third, I do not enjoy playing this way. There is no building strategy. No time to take note of what players do what. It may be true that I could get used to it eventually, but I believe it will always lack the fun of just sitting down and playing. It feels like a very intense job to me.
Then of course there is NL holdem Tournaments. The Cadillac of poker. This includes everything from the WSOP to the online free rolls. I have tried 3 of these for money. My entry fee was $15+$1.50. I cashed in 1 (barely) and hit 13th place in another, and lost the 1st hour in the 3rd. They were definitely fun, and challenging, but they have another problem. I have a life. Not a bar hopping, hope I score tonight life, but a job and wife and kids and mortgage life. It is very rare when I can devote 6 straight hours to poker. And I think you would have to play in a lot of these to make them pay well. So, while I will dream of the final table in Vegas, I will not really try for it for a few more years.

That leaves the final NL holdem game, the SnG. The timing on them is right. Depending on the type of game you enter, they last from 45 min to about 90 min. This is about perfect for me. They offer the fun and challenge I am looking for. But most importantly, they seem to offer a better rate of return for me. As I have been playing them relentlessly for a couple of months, I find I am placing fairly often, and starting to win a fair number. Part of this is that I think I am getting better at short handed and heads up play, but mainly because I have lots of patience.
There seems to be a sameness to the types of players in SnGs. I have been playing everything from 20 man at $8 or $30, to 10 man at $5, $10, $20, and $30, to 6 handed at $6, $12, and $25, to turbos at $5, $6, and $15. They all share the same kinds of players. The first type are the very aggressive ones. They want to own the table and be the big stack early, so they play lots of hands, many of them marginal, and bluff and semi bluff a lot. The secret to them is patience. Wait for your hand, slow play it, and let them hang themselves on your set or straight. If you don’t catch a hand in time to get them before someone else does, don’t worry about it, have patience.
The next player that I want to mention is the cautious one. He may enter a lot of un-raised pots, especially early, but will fold to any pressure if he does not hit. So against this guy, always make a continuation bet, it will pay more than it loses.
The next kind of player is the impatient one. He may even start out playing good, solid poker, but sooner or later he wants to gamble. He will suddenly start over betting the pot or calling all in often. If you have the hand to challenge him you will be amazed how often he is risking his life on a decent drawing hand. I have also noticed that they start doing it with great hands like big slick, but as everyone keeps folding to them, they start pushing marginal hands to steal the bets. Just have patience and wait for the right moment to challenge them. If you have done this right you should make the final 5 nearly every game. Now you must quickly adapt how you play. Do you change your starting requirements to reflect the changed odds in a shorthanded game? I do. An Ace rag stinks most of the time at a full table, but can be gold in 4 or 5 handed. Play smart here and you should get to the final 3 fairly easily. Sometimes you get faked out or someone slow plays a monster on you, but you should be alright. When you get to the final 3, it is time to wake up. Start pushing hands, be aggressive. Attack the other players, attack the blinds, never check (well almost). With your previously almost passive play, most players will be caught off guard by the sudden switch in your play. You can often steal several pots before you are challenged. Then just put on your game and play. So far this seems to be working for me, especially at the higher level SnGs.
Well, this is what I think I have learned, anyway. I still have lots of learning to do. In fact I am building a list of questions and one of these days I am going to sit down and hit Sack with them. He has been a great help in getting me rolling and on the positive side of making money in poker. Good luck all, see you at the tables.

Excellent post P. I'd like to see you turn the aggression "on and off" a little when you hit the 5 player level in MT SNGs. Maybe push your position betting a bit with say level 2 to level 3 cards. Only for a hand or two at a time though. I haven't been reading ya'lls site recently, so it's good to get back here and see the improvement and your level of awareness. Props to you.


Posted by Mr Goss at June 2, 2006 11:59 AM

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