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Poker News | PokerWorks Op-Ed

Boot Camp: What I've Learned From Playing Limit

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In an effort to recapture my love for poker - that gnawing need to play cards that used to drive my thirst to learn - I've started to play Limit Holdem.

It's still Holdem, a great game that may always be my favorite, even if my love for my poker mistresses, Razz and Omaha, continue to grow.

I've only played for a short time, but I've learned a few things about poker, and more specifically Holdem, during my play at limit, which right now tends to be at $2/$4 on Full Tilt Poker.

• Position is everything - When you have position, you get to see how what your opponent does first. You have the option to raise, call or fold. You can bluff much easier. You can be the aggressor by attacking checks. You can put your opponents to the test by raising their bets. And the only way to raise when you're out of position is to check and hope for a check-raise. But you don't need to risk missing a bet when you're out of position. You can just raise.

Position is awesome. Play it often. When your opponent has position on you, keep in mind what I just said.

• Your opponents don't have it as often as you might think - It's hard to get a good hand. The next time you play for an hour, count how many hands you get equal to TPTK (Top Pair Top Kicker) or above. It probably won't be many.

Limit allows me to call some hands down with A-K high, and I've won many more of those hands than I probably deserve, even if I'm doing it against overly aggressive opponents. I wouldn't recommend you do this often, by the way, but the point is, if it's hard for you to get a really good hand, it's also hard for your opponents, and it's time to start attacking those weak flops and the weak bets that follow, especially when you're playing No Limit.

• Tight is all right - It's actually correct to play tight in limit, as it's hard to force opponents off their hands, and hands go to a showdown far more often than in No Limit. It's also OK to play this way in No Limit, as there still are enough players out there that make mistakes. I've won in limit so far by simply playing the right hands at the right time.

• You still need to be unpredictable - I've also raised with K-3 on the button, or Q-9 suited, or even 2-7 (my favorite hand). The difference is it was folded to me and I was playing tight, so I had a good image. The object isn't really to steal the blinds (which probably means raising with 2-7 is stupid, given I'm putting money in the pot with an especially weak hand). The object is to raise just a touch more than I should to keep my opponents guessing. No, you don't need to be Tom Dwan. You just need to play a little unpredictably.

• Bets really matter on the turn and river - That's when they double in Holdem, but that's also when the bets should double in No Limit as well. It gets far more expensive to call on the turn and river without a hand, and just like you need to figure out if you want to leave or stay by fifth street in stud, you really need to figure out if you should fold by the turn (and you probably should many times).

Sometimes when I flop a monster I'll just call in Limit and wait to raise on the turn, when bad players believe they're committed to the hand and I can get an extra bet in the pot when the bets are doubled.

Play your hands strong - Bet, bet, bet, bet, bet. I rarely slowplay any longer, even at No Limit. The whole game of Limit is about squeezing out extra bets (and saving them). People are so attuned these days to tricky checks that it's better just to play your hand the way you should and let your opponent figure out what you have.

• I can only play three tables - I admit it. I can't multi-table like the best of them. Limit's taught me that I really can't pay attention to the players unless I'm playing three tables or less. Less kind of bores me, though if I'm distracted, I might only play two.

• Poker is fun - Limit has revitalized my game. It's improved my reading ability and made me want to play again. I've tried a new game and it's worked. Keep that in mind the next time you think you're done with poker.

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