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Crushing Live Poker With Twitter

by Bart Hanson |  Published: Jul 10, 2013

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June 2 – After flatting A-K preflop on ace-little-little boards play the hand like a set especially in low limit cash games

If you are familiar with my training material on Seatopenpoker.net, you know that I am sometimes a proponent of just flat calling preflop with A-K in order to keep a lot of the weaker hands in the pot. Say, for example, an early position player raises with A-J and you three-bet him with A-K from the button. He folds his hand and we lose the value of getting him to commit money if we flop an ace. Sometimes we have to continue on on certain board textures however, even when we do not flop a pair.

When we flat with A-K as a field caller and an ace flops, I believe, on somewhat disconnected boards, we should fast play the flop just like when we flop a set. Say, we just call with A-K against a mid-position raiser in the cutoff. The board comes out ADiamond Suit 6Club Suit 3Club Suit and the preflop raiser makes a continuation bet. This is a perfect spot to play your hand just like you had a set of sixes or threes. The board is drawy and a lot of your opponents will not fold hands with an ace in it after they raise.

The other key thing to playing A-K for big pots after flatting preflop is to value bet every street. Raise flop, bet turn and bet river. You’ll see some strange looks from other players at the table, especially at the lower levels, as they would never see anyone value bet so thinly with a top pair hand. But this does not matter. Value betting the best hand is one of the keys to increasing your winrate in no-limit cash games. And a disguised A-K on an ace-high board is very often going to be the best hand.

June 6 – Being short in a tourney doesn’t give you the excuse to throw your chips in. Sometimes you will have no fold equity

Since I am writing this article during the WSOP, I figured I would make a foray into a tweet about live tournaments. I absolutely love the structures of the $1,500 events at the WSOP. You get just enough chips to play (average is usually 30-40 big blinds post ante) and giant prizepools.

As a cash game player, I feel like I have a gigantic advantage playing against most in the field postflop, and since min-raising has now become almost the standard open sizing, you can actually get involved with hands and force people to play poker. Amazingly though, most of the absolutely horrible mistakes that I have seen made actually have to do with people when they get short stacked. I was able to maneuver to 16th place out of a field of over 6,300 players during the Millionaire Maker at the WSOP, so I saw a lot of all-in situations. I was also very short (under 12 big blinds) several times during the tournament, and was able to work my stack back up without ever being behind in an all-in situation. Your ability to play under a 15 big blind stack in these types of tournaments is absolutely critical to your success. It may seem like a simple concept, but if you have under 10 big blinds and someone raises in front of you, you are basically calling off your chips by moving all-in, as you rarely will have any fold equity. This means that against a reasonable opening range, ace-rag type holdings are really garbage, as you are never going to be that far out and front and you have no chance to make the opener fold. It was stunning how many people did not understand this concept. Several times I would see guys with 10 big blinds or less ship over the top of a raiser with a hand like A-4 offsuit only to really hope that the opener would have a hand like K-J. And of course A-4 is not that far ahead of K-J. Another common mistake was to see people basically call all-in or (move all-in with fewer than 8 big blinds) with “pretty hands” like JSpade Suit 9Spade Suit or 7Heart Suit 5Spade Suit. These hands have very little value in a five-card runout. I saw people play tight for hours and hours just to punt their stack off and make a huge mistake with fewer than 10 big blinds.

The simple fact of the matter is it is easy to learn how to play the short stack and it is one of the most important skills to have if you want to be successful in tournaments.

May 29 – Ace-x suited hands are the one exception of hands where you are not attacking the tight range of the preflop raiser

If you have read my previous columns you know that I think most of the money that is won and lost at the lower levels of live no-limit comes from players flat calling preflop with improper effective stacks (not deep enough to call). When we are determining whether or not to call with a hand like a suited connector or pocket pair we must go after the preflop raiser’s effective stack, not other players that have called the raise in front of us. If a player raises up front and two others call in between, those two others are flat calling with similar hands to the type that we hold. How are we going to make a ton of money with 4-4 against a guy who has 9Spade Suit 8Spade Suit?

There is one exception to this rule, however, and that is with small suited aces. With small suited aces, we actually should concern ourselves more with the people that have called the initial raise and watch their stacks. We should avoid calling these aces heads-up versus the preflop raiser, as it is very difficult to win a big hand against an opener’s range. However, when deep, we have the chance to over-flush the people in between if they are calling with suited connectors. It even gets to the point where I may overcall a raise from an upfront player who is relatively short just to get involved with those that have called in the middle. You also have the added value of flopping trips with the best kicker, straights and aces-up. ♠

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 “The Seat Open Podcast” on seatopenpoker.net 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 LiveattheBike.com.