Saturday, January 30, 2010

HORSE pep talk

Well, after 6 HORSE tournaments, an hour of HORSE cash, and one second place to show for all that, I'm down $12.31.  Gotta love microstakes online poker as a learning tool!

Hopefully, I can make that up in equity in the tournament tomorrow.  Considering good tournament edge is about 30% ROI ($15) that is unlikely, because I doubt I'm that much better than the average players.  But at least I've given myself a fighting chance for some bigger money!

These are the main lessons I've learned for my HORSE tournament strategy:

  1. Early on, play tightly.  There is no need getting into big hands with a possible second-best hand.  Early on, everybody calls everything and anything, plus they bet a wide range of hands, so it is harder to know where you are without the nuts.  So, play tightly pre-flop/on 3rd, but play your good hands hard to build a pot.
  2. In the middle rounds (~5-10 big bets), start limping more.  Yes, really.  Most people have big enough stacks that they don't mind calling a raise with a pretty wide range, especially if they've already put in a bet.  On the other hand, if they wiff the flop (or 4th/5th) they'll often let it go to one bet.  Furthermore, they'll play passively, and you can often see a number of cards for cheap.  But, if you raise, you could commit yourself before you know it.
  3. In the later rounds (<5 big bets), start stealing a lot... play the odds!  For instance, in Razz, you can often just steal with a nice looking board card.  In stud, well timed bets when a large card hits your board can often get a fold if people played passively.  At this stage, many people are just trying to stay on, and a single raise (one big bet) can take a pot down.
  4. Play looser early in the hand, tighter later.  Trying to play a limit tournament like a NLHE tournament (always coming in for a raise and firing a CB) is a recipe for disaster in limit.  This isn't to say you can't bluff, but bluff like a ninja (with one well-placed blow) rather than like the Incredible Hulk (hulk smash!).  With a 3-5 big bet stack, as they often will be later on, you just can't risk multi-barrel bluffs because those chips are valuable to stay alive to see more hands.
  5. Don't forget to count odds.  This is limit, after all! 

Comments by Game:
  • Hold'em: The main thing I had to remember is that it is ok to limp in late position.
  • Omaha: Stealing doesn't work well here.
  • Razz: Stealing here works really well -- always look at the upcards before you muck your hand!
  • Stud: Stealing can work in late game -- harder in mid-game though. 
  • Stud8: Near the end, just play it for high -- usually you won't have enough odds for playing it for the low.

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