Poker Words - A Poker Blog

Mostly a recount of my poker exploits along with a bunch of random other stuff just for fun.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Limit Practice

Limit Practice

I have a confession to make. I don’t calculate pot odds. *ghasp/shudder*. I know; what kind of self respecting halfway decent poker player doesn’t calculate his odds before every move? In my defense, I probably play no-limit tournaments 95% of the time I’m playing poker, and I would contend that playing exactly as the odds dictate doesn’t necessarily lead to long term profitability in those circumstances. I may be getting the correct odds to call with some long shot draws, but if nine times out of ten, I’m going to lose and bust out of the tournament, then I don’t see the expected value being very high, even if I take down I ginormous pot that one time. Betting based on the odds the pot is giving you assumes that eventually, if you make that play enough, you will come out ahead. I don’t think it quite works like that in a tournament setting. If you make that play and lose, you might be out of the tournament, and don’t have the opportunity to let the results swing back in your favor. Granted not every choice you have to make in a tournament has the possibility of knocking you out, but it can have an impact on how you have to play the rest of the tournament. You don’t have the option to rebuy when you get short stacked in tournaments like you could in a ring game.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a very good ring game or limit player. The fact that I never really learned to figure out pot odds probably has something to do with that. I would also blame it on the fact that there are always one or two players playing any two cards that always seem to suck out on me. I thought that if I could go up in limits I would do better because I would be less likely to take so many bad beats.

I was reading Phil Gordon’s book and he made a comment that struck a nerve, something to the effect that if you can’t beat the players at the lower limits, you won’t be successful at the higher limits either. I thought about it, and it made sense. It shouldn’t be that hard to beat the low limit game. It’s all just math right? As long as play hands with a higher expected value, and learn to make the right plays based on the odds, I should be able to beat this game. No excuses about bad beats or lucky opponents.

I’ve decided that I am going to force myself to learn to calculate the odds. I cut back to one table at a time, so I can focus on the action there, and once I have that mastered, or at least under control, I’ll start increasing the number of tables and limits.

I started off this Sunday, and played for about an hour. I played about 60 hands total. There were a couple of things I noticed. First, very rarely did I need actually to calculate anything. I only played about 20 hands, if that, and of those, most of them played themselves. The second thing I noticed is that PokerTracker really helps. There was one situation where I had a good starting hand, AK I think, but missed the flop completely. I bluffed a bet on the flop, and was called. I checked on the turn, and would have folded to a bet, except that I knew that this player played over 60% of the hands, and saw the river on almost all of them, so I didn’t think he had anything either. I check-called him to the river, and took down a decent sized pot when he had nothing. Later, I was in the big blind with an average hand, and someone from middle position raised. I normally would have defended my blind and called, but according to the PokerTracker stats, that was the first time he raised pre-flop in over 100 hands. I folded my blind and watched his aces hold up against two other players. That saved me at least a bet or two. If you don’t already use PokerTracker, I would highly recommend that you at least try it out. You can load 1000 hands into the demo version. I think you’ll find that it’s easily worth the price. You may also want to pick up a copy of the Poker Tracker Guide which I’ve also found to be quite valuable.

So anyway, I’m trying to become a better limit player, and learn/relearn some of the fundamentals. I think that will help my game overall. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Post a Comment

<< Home