Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Fewer Limps, More Folds, More Wins

This is another in the “More Bang for Your Buck” series, although few players think that saving money is equivalent to making money…but it is.  I don’t know you, I don’t know how you play, but if you’re not a consistent winner at small-stakes tournament poker, there are two things I do k now about you:
  • You play too many hands, and
  • You limp in far too often.
You’ve been told this before, by others, but I want to do a quick math study as to why you should play fewer hands but play them harder, and leave the limping to others.  I’m not saying NEVER limp, but this should be the exception, not the rule.

Here’s the math…say you only want to play your top 10% hands.  Well, you only get only of those every ten hands or so, and you know as well as I do that you can’t just sit back and wait for the goods, because when you do get a great hand, no one else is going to play with you.  So, you want to play your top 20% hands, but there’s always the fear that if two or more players call your raise that your hand might not be the best once the hand is over.  So you raise more so that you can take your good hands head up and avoid bad beats or whatever you’d like to call them.  But that still won’t get you the top prize, so…

Play your top 35-45% hands as if they are top 10% hands.  In other words, play all the hands you play as if they’re gold, reduce the size of the competition as much as possible, and crush them when you have the goods.

You can’t do that by limping, limping, limping.

And if you don’t have the goods, and it’s obvious that you’re beat, save your money for the next hand.  Folding is OK when you’re beat, and sure, you might get lucky, but chasing good money with bad money leaves you with less (or no) money.  Make your bets when the getting is good and get good.

Which leads us to bluffing.  If you’re playing a bunch of hands as if they’re all great, and you show noting but great hands (or you never show because they always fold), you might as well keep doing it until someone calls you down…and you lose.  Finally, they (might) catch on that your hands are always stellar, and they might challenge you the next time…which is why the next time is when you have a monster and you get our your crushing apparatus.

Poker tournaments are won by aggressive play.  Limping isn’t aggressive.  Folding with the worst of it isn’t aggressive either, but it IS smart.  Do these two things and what your win rate soar.

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