Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another poker thought

When I play poker online, I play tournaments, and not cash games. The big difference is that it is not "real money". Sure, your entry fee is real money, but each individual hand is just played for chips, and the value of those chips increases as people drop out. If you are curious, I can say more about that concept another time.

This means that you can be much more aggressive in the early hands, because the chips aren't worth as much. While you don't want to be reckless, and get put out, as long as you are playing properly, the early results are not crucial.

So "proper play" would be a tight aggressive style. Tight being that you are not in on every hand, but just on hands with a good chance to win (any pair, any suited connector, any two cards ten or higher) and you decline to enter the pot on anything else. Aggressive then means that when you are in a pot, you control the betting. If you hit the flop (say you pair one of your face cards, or wind up with four cards to your flush) then you allow no "free cards". If the bet checks around to you, you are betting at least two big blinds, so that everyone sees they have to pay to play a hand you are in. If you only do this with a premium holding on the deal, the other players (if they are properly observant) will learn you only play good cards, and they will get out of your way.

Today I was in tournament where I was short stacked when we got down to eight players from the original ten. I commented on my status at the short stack, and several other players agreed it was too early to matter. I had been playing tight aggressive, and I wasn't getting the cards. Then all of a sudden, I was. And by the time we got to five players left I had the tall stack. I wound up finishing second, and getting a nice share of the prize money.

The point is, if you have a plan, and stick to it, good things usually happen. You are playing cards, and you never know how they will fall, but most times, tight aggressive beats any loose or passive player.