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Poker News | Online Poker | News

Raising Your Game – Limit Hold Em

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The online world of Texas Hold’em limit tables is teeming with players, many of whom win a little and lose a little. Some win regularly and an awful lot lose regularly. If you were to study what characterises the “up-and-down players” and “down-a-lot players”, it is probably over-use of the “Call” button.

Visit any full table, be it 6-seat, 9-seat or 10-seat, and you will find the pre-flop betting involves most players where there have been no raises. Now, there will be hands in amongst these where the only sensible course of action should have been a fold but what these players like more than anything is to see three more cards and hope to spike a good hand. Never mind the odds, feel the anticipation! Many players might think “If there has been no raise, well, what is the harm in a cheap bet?”

There will also be hands amongst those betting before the flop where the player has an expectation of success. Perhaps a player in a middle position holds Ad Qd. The two players after the big blind (and acting before him) limp in, so our player decides he would like to keep the price down for himself and merely calls the big blind. Everyone else calls for curiosity.

That player’s chances of winning are now substantially reduced because everyone is in the pot. It is inevitable that he will be in trouble if the flop misses the A and Q and does not produce at least two diamonds. Furthermore, that player is not perceived a threat to others because he is one of many “limpers” who did not stand out from the crowd. It is anybody’s game.

The same would apply and frequently does with limpers who call with hands like A7, A6, K9 and so on. Basically these are poor hands at the best of times on a full table. That does not stop a multitude of players at limit tables from seeing a flop with them.

What is the solution? If you want to make money playing limit poker, you have to rise up from the masses, and do it with hands realistically capable of winning more often than not. A hand like AQ suited in middle position is playable and you play it by raising, not calling. Assuming there has not already been some strong raising before you, your raise should send a signal to the others that they are up against something decent and puts the questions to them: “Are you prepared to call a double bet with your holding? Are your cards worthy of challenging mine? Do you wish to pay twice the going rate with the strong likelihood that you will be asked to call another double bet in the expensive rounds?”

No, I didn’t think they all would! Your raise should scare off the passive callers and limpers. It won’t necessarily eliminate everyone. There will still be the “calling stations” who do not value their hands until all seven cards are in view. There will also be the stronger hands that players over-value in such a situation, the likes of QT, QJ, KT, K9, and small to medium pairs. These are pretty cards that might catch a combination on the flop but usually will not, or if they do, they are dominated by the raiser (eg AQ v QT).

It doesn’t matter. If you have not received a re-raise, you are probably in front and have narrowed the field. The point is, you have raised with a very strong pre-flop hand. That does not mean hands like A7, A8, KT! These should not figure in early to mid position. They should be folded because you are so often going to be behind to other players with aces and stronger kickers.

There is of course more strategy than just raising with premium hands. If you are late in the betting, you might well be justified in limping in with hands that have potential to flop a flush or straight, the so-called drawing hands. However, those are value plays.

What I am driving at here is that you must fold much more often than many do. When you get a strong starting hand and you think you have the best hand, you should raise! It will do your game a power of good. Cut out limping as a general rule. Cut out slow-playing with strength. If your opponents insist on chasing cards, make them pay a high rate for those fishing rights!

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