Changing Strategy in Low Limit Texas Hold’em
With the rising popularity in the game of poker, casinos and online cardrooms have become packed with new players over the past few years. With new players coming to the tables, older players often get frustrated when losing to players who aren’t "playing by the book." If I had a chip for every time I heard a low limit poker player complaining about being out drawn when their AA lost to XX, I’d be living the dream. This article discusses a few advanced strategies for low-limit players on adjusting their game to the ever increasing number of new players and loose play.
Before beginning, we will note that this article is focused on limit Texas Hold’em games, $5/$10 and under. Most casinos host a large span of cheaper games like $2/$4, $3/$6, $4/8, and $5/10, which are all considered low limit Hold’em games. It’s at these tables that you’ll often encounter new and reckless players. Look at these players as an opportunity to produce positive gain, not an opportunity to be drawn out on all night.
The first and most important step in adjusting your poker game to low-limit play is to make observations. Within your first 10 minutes at the table you should have a fairly good idea of what the table play is like. In most low-limit games, you’re going to come across extremely loose and reckless players. For an example, we will pretend we just sat down at a full nine person $3/$6 limit Texas Hold’em table. Before coming in with any mediocre hands in the first 10-20 minutes, slow down and spend time observing the players at the table. If a player in early position makes a standard pre-flop raise and 6 other players are seeing the flop with him, you know you’re playing low-limit. This table is definitely full of loose and careless players. However, if a pre-flop raise is made and generally 2-3 players are seeing the flop, you’ve found a tighter low-limit game, which we will not be covering today. Make sure you don’t base your observations on simply paying attention to the table patterns of one hand. It will take a number of hands to successfully identify the people you are playing with. Don’t forget to remain observant throughout the entire hand. Carefully pay attention to the hands your opponents are turning over during the showdown because this will greatly help you judge exactly how loose the other players are. If players are calling raises with 10Jo from early position and seeing them down, you should be in for a good night.
Bet When It Hits
One concept the majority of low-limit players don’t understand is what I call "Bet When It Hits." New players and reckless players are usually not very sneaky with their betting patterns. These type of players like to hold on to any type of draw and often any Ace in their hand. Let’s say you’re holding 99 to a flop of 357. So far you’re feeling pretty good. The table checks around to you and you make the standard bet. The majority of the players give you a call. The turn brings the Ac and a player from early position leads out and bets. Do you actually think this new player is slow playing a set of 5s or a 7 high straight and betting it on the turn as opposed to check raising the entire table? No, most likely not. The more likely answer is he’s holding something like A8 and clinching to the Ace for dear life. Well this hand, he probably hit it. Even if he hasn’t hit it, in a multi-way pot, another loose player probably did. I refer to this concept as "Bet When It Hits" because the majority of new players lead out and bet out of no where when they hit the miracle card they were looking for. Some low-limit players will merely get frustrated and call the player down, only to donate to a donkey. If you call $6 on the turn and another $6 on the river for a hand you figure is losing to the Ace on the turn, you’re just throwing your money away. The key to winning at low-limit Hold’em is escaping from these little costly traps when you know you have a losing hand. Paying off loose and uneducated players here and there quickly adds up to a long night of breakeven or even a night of loss. Pay attention and don’t fall into these traps.
Aces, Kings, Queens, and AK
Just because you look down and see AA pre-flop, doesn’t make your hand the winner. You have to be extremely careful playing these big hands in a low-limit game. While these hands are some of the strongest hands in the game and often work wonders in no-limit Hold’em, playing them in low-limit Hold’em is often more difficult and frustrating. Let’s say you make an early position raise looking down at KK. There are 5 players that call the raise and you hit a flop of 10dJsQs. Are you holding an over pair? Why yes, you are. Beware. This type of flop is deadly for KK in a low-limit Hold’em game. Loose low-limit players will frequently call raises with hands like 10J, JQ, 10Q, without hesitating. You’re looking down at an over pair and a gut shot straight draw to make Broadway, but you’re probably already behind in this hand with that many pre-flop players. Loose players enjoy calling pre-flop raises with any type of face card in their hand, so look out. At this point, even if you hit a K to make trips, it’s quite possible another player is holding an Ace or even a 9 to make a straight. The bottom line is: when it comes down to playing these big hands at a low-limit table, play them carefully. Whatever you do, don’t just bet and raise the entire table as much as possible simply because you’re looking at AA.
Raising From Late Position
The final topic I’m going to discuss in this article is making raises in late position at a low-limit Hold’em table. If you’re in late position, the table limps around to you, and you look down to see AK, it’s a given that you’re probably going to raise the pot. However, what if 6 players limp before you and you look down in late position to see 6s7s, what action do you take? An interesting strategy here is to raise this pot. In a low-limit Hold’em game, about 95% of the players who limp in pre-flop will also call a pre-flop raise from a player in later position than themselves. This means that in a $3/$6 limit Hold’em game, if 6 players limp in before you for $3, then you raise to $6 as the last to act, the pot will most likely be $42 plus the original blinds. All of a sudden you’ve created a massive pre-flop pot for a $3/$6 game with a mediocre hand. It can often be profitable in a low-limit Hold’em game to raise with hands that play well in multi-way pots from late position, fully aware that the majority of the table will see the flop with you. Let’s say you’re holding the 6s7s, all 6 other players call your raise, and the flop is Ks10h2c. Bingo? No, not really. You’ve completely missed this flop, but guess what? This will be the easiest fold you’ve ever made. When playing hands like the 6s7s from late position with a raise and a large number of callers, you’ll be surprised at how often you’ll make a big hand. Lots of the loose callers will be playing hands like A3, A10, JQ, K10, and will often be sharing a large number of cards, giving you more opportunity to make a winner. Next time you find yourself in late position at a loose table with a good multi-way hand, try throwing in a raise and record your results. Just remember to not chase these hands when you don’t hit them very well. It’s merely cost you $6 to build a large $3/$6 pot, highly increasing your pot odds to make a big hand. You only have $6 invested so there is no use in chasing any 1 or 2 outer. You’ve simply built another player a large pot, which should all be coming back to you in the end either wa
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