Bart Hanson -- Crushing Live Poker With Twitter
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February 9 – Top pair and a flush draw is not a monster hand when facing a lot of heat.
One of the most overplayed hands in live no-limit is top pair and a flush draw. It’s amazing that people will commit their entire stack not realizing that they may have very poor equity given the action throughout the hand.
Let’s look at a common example. In a $2-$5 game with effective stacks of $700, under-the-gun (UTG) opens to $25 and three people call, including the two blinds. The board comes out 10 9 7 and it gets checked to the button. He has K 10 and bets $60. The small blind calls and the big blind check raises all-in for $700. What now? If we put ourselves in the button’s spot, our hand looks strong but we are actually doing very poorly versus the big blind’s range. It seems like he is trying to protect a made hand and at worst we should expect him to show up with two pair – but he likely has a flopped straight or a set. We are getting laid less than 1.5-to-1 from the pot and we should clearly fold given that range. Even though our equity is not bad versus two pair or the nut-flush draw, we are far behind the rest of the hands that he may show up with.
I often see players snap call in this situation. They do not realize that when you flop top pair and a flush draw your hand is not as strong as it seems, especially with heavy action in front of you. In fact, top pair can basically be irrelevant against your opponent’s holding except for the fact that you block some full house redraws.
It is also common to see players in this situation get it in virtually drawing dead against a made hand and a dominating draw. Change that above scenario to a three-way pot where we are up against 9 9 and A Q and we have close to zero percent equity Especially against opponents that play their draws fast, we must be weary of a raise and a reraise.
Another thing that people do not quite understand is that top pair and a flush draw actually does worse than middle or bottom pair and a flush draw versus a preflop raising range when the top pair is a high card. Say, for example, the board is K 8 2 and we hold K Q. It seems like we’ve flopped a strong hand, but if the preflop raiser has A-K we would rather hold something like 8 7 on a K 8 2 board. You must be aware of this when pushing draws especially with ace, king or queen-high flops. Those extra two outs add up to about eight percent equity with two cards to come. There is an in depth discussion of these scenarios in my podcast, Deuce Plays, episode “Draws”.
February 10 – Limp reraising with > 80 BB stacks is a really weak play
No-limit is a game of maximizing value. The name of the game is getting your opponents to put in money with inferior hands. You do not want to get into situations where you are making such big bets that you are getting weaker hands to fold and only stronger hands continue on. The best way to do this is usually by playing your hands straightforward, especially preflop.
One of the easiest ways to spot a weak player is to notice if he habitually limp reraises. Normally you lose more value than you gain. Although this technique can be useful while playing the short stack it is usually not implemented in the right way.
Let’s say that we are under the gun with A-A and have a $1,200 stack in a $5-$10 game.
The table is loose and raises routinely get three or four callers. We limp, a few others limp and the button raises to $65. It gets back to us and we make it $300. Everyone folds and we take down the pot. To some, this may seem like a victory. But what if we had just played our hand straightforward and opened to a normal size raise preflop? We then encourage the dominated holdings like K-J and Q-T to come in; hands that we can extract multiple streets of future value from. Players simply have trouble folding top pair especially at the lower levels.
The reason why weak players limp reraise so much is because they are scared to play post-flop. They’ve taken some bad beats with A-A and K-K and don’t know how to release when they are behind. They attempt to “protect their hand” with large bets not realizing that they are losing an incredible amount of value from weaker holdings.
February 11 – Beware of rake considerations and stack sizes when over limping two or less people. A lot of times it’s just not worth it.
One of the most common questions that I receive is about the beatablity of live low stakes no-limit games. In southern California, a $200 max buy-in game with $2-$5 blinds drops $5 after the flop and $1 for the bad beat jackpot. This is a flat drop, not a rake. Once the flop comes out the full drop is taken. Unlike other games with a rake (a percentage of the pot up to a maximum), a drop leads to a very high proportion of money being taken from small pots.
Let’s look at an example. In a $2-$5 no-limit game, a player in middle position limps and the button over limps. The small blind completes and the big blind checks (pot $20). Then, $6 is dropped – thirty percent of the pot. This leads to a scenario where it is almost always unprofitable (with the exception of stacks being very deep) for the button to over limp the first player. The rake consideration in drop games like this is enormous. If you play at this level you should be consciously aware of staying out of these single limped pots unless you plan on attacking the limper.
I have discussed on my podcast the likelihood of beating these types of games. Several listeners have said that they can beat the $200 cap games for a small hourly rate. If you move down to the $100 cap game, however, the drop is reduced only by one dollar. At 30 hands per hour with the bad beat jackpot the casino literally takes all of the money off of the table within six hours.
Because of the drop structures in these small capped games it is very difficult to build a bankroll without some sort of auxiliary income. Without online poker it is almost impossible for a new player to learn the game while consistently turning a profit. It is imperative that you pay attention to the amount of money you are paying to the casino at the lower levels. ♠
Want Card Player and Bart to provide analysis on a cash game hand you played? Send full hand details (blinds, stacks, street-by-street action) to @CardPlayerMedia. If we choose your hand, we’ll send you a Card Player subscription.
Follow Bart for daily strategy tips on twitter @barthanson. Check out his podcast “Deuce Plays” on DeucesCracked.com and his video training site specifically for live No Limit players—CrushLivePoker.com. He also hosts Live at the Bike every Tuesday and Friday at 10:30 pm ET at LivettheBike.com
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