THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. THIS BLOG IS MY BLOG. Welcome to the Home of Hyperopia.: On Risking It All - Part 1

Friday, December 23, 2005

On Risking It All - Part 1

SUBTITLE: Thoughts on No-Limit Texas Hold'em

No-limit Texas Hold'em is an extremely popular card game at the moment. That picture to the right is a shot of Mike "the Mouth" Matusow betting all of his chips during the main event at this year's World Series of Poker. He was the chip leader (I believe) when they started play at the final table, but he finished ninth.

I just played about four hours of no-limit Texas hold'em on the internet in a ring game (not a tournament). I came away from tonight's session believing that the idea I'm about to publish for your thoughts and reactions is absolutely the most important key factor in determining whether you will make money playing in a no-limit Texas hold'em ring game or not.
  • If you don't hit something good on the flop, fold if there is any significant action.

That concept seems so simple. But I saw almost all of the players at the table make plays that were not consistent with that idea. People routinely call pot-sized bets and even bigger bets with flush draws on the flop (that's four to the flush, not three, of course). And many of these same players will also call a pot-sized bet again on the turn if they didn't make their flush.

Tonight I concentrated. I played only one table. Prior to starting the session, I articulated my strategy out loud: be patient and wait to catch your opponents making the big mistake; do not get emotionally involved in any pots (if you make a decent sized bet hoping the other players in the pot will fold and one of them raises, then you fold (unless it is fairly likely you have the best hand, although in that case I am hoping that they call). And periodically during the session, I reminded myself of this strategy. I tried to stay alert to the the inevitable boredom. I tried to bet, raise, call, and fold intentionally (this is harder than it should be for me; I think generally it is harder than it sounds).

I wanted to see if that approach (a serious one) would make a difference in my results. And, happily, it did. This weekend I'll try it again.

So, to review - I think in playing a no-limit Texas hold'em ring game, if you don't flop what you think is likely to be the best hand, generally look for a reason to fold. Generally do not play draws (unless your opponents price you in by betting too little, of course).

I would note, also note, of course, that none of this jabbering in this post is different from the ideas expressed in basically any hold'em poker book out there. This concept bullet-pointed above is not an "insight." But it does seem to work (at least it did tonight). However, like so many fairly simple things, it's difficult to stay up on that tightrope.

It's easy and in many ways tempting to try to fly.

It's probably not actually that tempting to tightrope walkers to try to fly. So that's really not a good analogy, is it? The danger to tightrope walkers is much more apparent and significantly less open to disagreement. So never mind. But it is kind of a neat picture, don't you think?


Blogger Chris said...

Congratulations on a good session! My NL experience has been focused on tournament play, which is significantly different than a cash game. I think your general premise on cash NLH correct.

In a NL game, I however like to play a draw, if I can get good odds to do so AND I think there is a good expectation of additional betting. A nut straight or flush draw is worth playing against an ace if you're only investing a small percentage of the pot OR you've got a lot of players in the pot who aren't making a move.

I also seem to value position more in a NL game. I think that's contrary to what the books say, but I seem to just notice where I'm at better. This may be why I suck at limit poker. In a cash game, I try to limp in preflop, then either bet, raise or fold after the flop. Calling in a cash NL game is rarely a good play unless you're doing do cheaply, with a good draw to the nuts.

Finally, NL Hold-Em is WAY more fun in a live casino. You can throw the books out the window.

8:47 AM, December 23, 2005  
Blogger garrett said...

One of the key differences I see in cash NLHE and tournament NLHE is in the cash games the blinds never get any bigger. I was playing the $25 maximum buy-in at Party ring game. It costs only $.35 per lap of the button to play. That is so much cheaper than limit play. That is so cheap. So patience is so much more important. And profitable.

I'm going to try it again sometime over the weekend. Hopefully I've got a philosophical leg up on the competition. But I also caught some pretty good cards (flopped a couple of straights, once when my opponent had flopped bottom set, etc.). So I certainly think the experiment needs to be played out over a considerably longer sample period before I start getting too excited about last night's success.

That NLHE stuff is fun.

10:40 AM, December 23, 2005  
Blogger PDD said...

I haven't read your most recent posting yet. Just wanted to drop in and say congratulations! I know you'll do good with the review.

I am so excited I am also selected and have a chance to review the book. Also really excited to read it. I just hope my review will be as good as yours will be.

You are good Garrett. That must be said.

Happy Holidays

(I think you may have your very own personal wizard. Perhaps hidden in your pocket. This needs no elaboration.)

11:36 AM, December 23, 2005  
Blogger garrett said...

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to your assessment of Harvey & Eck as well.

As regards your parenthetical, no, that's not an "elaborated" personal wizard in my pocket; I'm just excited to have a chance to review Erin's book!

11:39 AM, December 23, 2005  

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