Wednesday, August 31, 2005

No Limit Ring Game Musings

Relative vs. Absolute

Hand strength evaluation can be tricky, especially during short-handed NLHE ring games. In limit poker, if you were to look at your Poker Tracker database, you'd most likely see your winning hands ranked in order of BB's won corrolating well with their absolute hand strengths. In no-limit, that ranking has the possibility to be skewed a bit.

Big winning hands are those wherein you have a hand that is just a wee bit better than your opponents. Your QT on a board of KJ973 will get paid off big time by someone holding T8, perhaps for their entire stack. Both hands are strong on an absolute basis, but on a relative basis, the higher straight is a monster.

Trusting Instincts

Being able to trust your reads on opponents only comes with focus (See Big Pirate). I had a horrible session on Monday night, basically mailing it in and dropping two buy-ins. My focus was off. I was in another conversation much of the session with Mrs_Blood about houses (another story).

Tuesday, however, I was flying solo and was able to concentrate on the table. Concentrating lets me better profile my opponents and that's important to do when you need to make reads on their bets. When a solid, tight opponent starts raising and then leading out into pots with big bets, I know it's time to laydown my top two pair. I even folded Aces the other night and was pleased to see my opponent's set of Q's NOT put me to the felt.

I also was able to put someone on a draw and correctly call their river bluff when what I perceived to be a rag hit the board. Getting a compliment from another player for a nice call was icing on the cake. Playing without interruptions and distractions is still an area of discipline I need to work on.


Do you ever feel bad about making a continuation bet and having it called when you miss the flop entirely? Well don't. Aggression and continuation bets will win you more pots in the long run, in my opinion. Example: pocket 8's in the small blind and it's limped around to me. I raised to 4xBB. My raise was only 50% effective, eliminating two of the four limpers. The flop was KJx and totally missed me. I didn't care. I fired out a 2/3rds pot size bet and both callers folded. I would most likely have lost the hand had I not raised. As Harrington states, that continuation bet is a good decision and often times a money maker.

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