Thursday, October 28, 2004

Much Ado About Nothing


As I am going back to limit holdem it struck me that some posts on the game might be useful. This seems doublely so as reading THM, it seems that some posters there, especially Brits, do not necessarily have a good grasp of some of the basics of the game. On reflection, I think that this is a consequence of playing PL Holdem in tourneys, which whilst great fun, resembles limit holdem only as far as oranges resemble apples.

In the limit game, how you play against the blinds and in the blinds can be a huge factor in your hourly earn. Let´s look at a brief quiz to test your knowledge about stealing blinds:

You are in a 15-30 ring game on Party Poker. Everyone passes to you on the button. Assume the blinds are Party typical, i.e., too loose, too aggressive in spots, and unaware.

What is your action with (a)AA (b)87o (c)A6o. How does this change if your hand is suited in (b) and (c)?


Anonymous said...

(a) raise. It is tough to get big guns when everyone folds to you on the button. A raise will likely only win the blinds, but a simple call is risky because it is hard to know what the blinds hold when they enter cheaply.

(b) fold. Only play the best offsuit hands.

(c) fold, but occasionally raise to steal or to see if my A finds a friendly flop.

suited? (b) call - not the kind of hand I'll fight for so I would get in cheap and fit-or-fold. (c) raise for sure.

chaos said...

Your bankroll is on vacation too? Where? I'd like to meet up with it. I appreciate your titles: I don't think I could be that creative. But what are we supposed to say 'Hey great title, shame about the content?' Just kidding!

when I need a vacation from poker discussion you bring in limit holdem! Well here's my hat thrown in.

Dave I think the question needs to be qualified. While the game maybe typical, I'm not sure that the BB can be for the purpose of the question. The answer is different depending on who you are or most importantly how you are perceived as well as who are in the blinds: we are perceived differently by different people and at different times. Well assuming I'm in a discplined frame of mind I'll set the criteria I'd like to use:

AA. I probably only ever limp in this position a couple of times in a hundred with AA. I'm certainly not worried about risk but I am about suspicion. Moreover if your opponent has hit something than s/he will likely be less aggressive with the hand in an unraised pot than a raised one: you want people check raising you on the turn.

There could be merit in limping after you've just got beat up in a pot and you appear to scared to raise. An aggesive blind, sensing this weakness, might raise. However, chances are they would probably play anyway under such circumstances. Another instance would be one where you have previously limped late with something like 89s shown it. For an aggressive blind, this is reasonable doubt: next time you limp s/he will be on your case. So I'd probably consider limping when I were perceived to be of a weak state of mind and the blinds were aggressive.

I suppose if I were in possession of a locally tight image and the blind was very too then I'd likely consider a limp.

78o: This is down to local conditions. For example if I've hit a couple of hands and my opponent has been beat up then I would definitely raise. The chances are he'll be more defensive and less creative and I will be the opposite**. But if the circumstances are reversed then the opposite is true and I'd hopefully pass. For me this hand is all about timing and of course the general traits of the blind players. Essentially, what are they normally like? What are they feeling now? What do they think I am feeling now.

I maybe very wrong here. These kinds of judgements are difficult because they tap into our emotions for help, which we use to gage a sense of probability: it isn't very reliable. For example, I've played many many hands of BJ; when a dealer gets an Ace I know the chances of a BJ are 4/13, but it feels like an odds-on shot. Perhaps it is my perception that I am less likely to win hands in steal positions after beats because they inevitably hurt more (and hence weighted highly w.r.t to our emotional mind) after we get beat.


78s... the above still apply I suppose, but I can't see myself binning it at all. I might limp here if I felt the blinds were feeling confident against me. In general I suspect that I would be seduced by the suited nature of my cards and over value it a little. (78s is stronger than 78o but would we want the SB in too in what is a multi way hand? Possibly, but I can't see it)

A6(s)o: I'd virtually always raise here in limit poker. I'm not convinced it is right at all, sklansky makes a good case to limp, but it seldom feels the right move. I am not at all fond of Ax it late positions. It seems that too often you pay off players with A high and don't get paid off enough when you hit. If the Ace misses then you will often get chk raised by an aggressive oppo who has missed the flop. Knowing this you may be inclined to call him down. Limping has merit here, if the Ace comes someone might get creative and assume you can't have it. The blinds have less buy in and so are more likely to let you nick it.

In general, the limp on the button may well be undersold. That said if I'm on the BB I want the button to limp a lot when the opportunity to steal arrives, as I do if I'm in the SB. On that basis it would seem sensible for the button to raise all the time. However, it may be that the emotional impact of being constantly bullied that alters my percepion and distorts the pictur. I don't know.

In general I'd say that limping is a good idea when there is an established pattern and the BB is getting on top of you (this really applies to SH poker). It's a tough thing to do though because it shows weakness to your opponent: none of us like doing that do we?

btw: I can't really descriminate between A6o and A6s here.


** though it is often opposite the case: you know some players will tilt and make a big play for the next pot. In which case a limp or muck is probably the best course.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,

Been playing more limit hold'em myself these days. as to the question

a) raise

b) fold

c) sometimes fold, sometimes call if the blinds are loose, and sometimes raise if I think i can steal it


same as A6o
b) sometimes fold, sometimes call, sometimes raise,

c) raise


Anonymous said...

Just to qualify for non-Party players, a typical Party player is prolly playing 30-40% of hands preflop, will defend the big blind way too much and will be raising without much regard to position. The unaware point is very important. A lot of Party players flit in and out of games and don´t really seem to pay much attention at all to who is doing what.


Anonymous said...


Do you ever play any Omaha8 limit? You don't seem to mention it. I'd imagine you would be successful at it, is there a reason why you don't like it?

Anonymous said...

(a) Raise
(b) Fold
(c) Fold

If suited

(b) Raise
(c) Raise

chaos said...

'The unaware point is very important.'

I guess that negates alot of what I said! I must have missed that bit.

chaos said...

A general answer would be,to fold 78o and raise the rest. Though I have leaning towards calling with 78s.

Anonymous said...


I did play a lot of limit hilo and still dabble. However it is one of the few games that sets me on to raging tilt, and also Im not convinced I play the ultra agressive big limit games too well either, so I tend to keep away. Although I am often tempted :-)


Anonymous said...

I don´t think anyone has the "right" answers yet...I will let u stew in your own juices a while until I get back :-)


Anonymous said...

I suppose the real question, since my method of play has been mentioned above, is why on your vacation are you thinking about limit holdem.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Hope that Gran Canaria is good. I have a week's leave this year to be carried over to next, so I may take that in March. Can you recommend anywhere there for a single, semi-middle-aged, guy to stay?

On the hands mentioned. Well, Feeney posits that if you know the blinds are going to defend, you might as well limp as raise. I personally think that's bollox. I want control of the hand. So, if I am in with any of these hands, I am raising.

87, suited or not, is the hand I like least here. I want this with lots of limpers in front of me, or say a single raise and lots of cold callers. It's fairly crap heads up and not much better three-handed. You need to hit a flop. I would probably throw it away, perhaps raising once in a blue moon if I know my opponents are passive players unlikely to reraise pre-flop or bet at me post-flop. That gives me four cards for the price of three.

Ace-Six is probably raisable if you think there is a good chance of a single defender -- not so hot if you think both will defend. Assuming the blind defends and does not reraise, you have a good chance of being in front after the flop.

Ace-Ace. Limpers on the button with AA deserve bad beats. Hell, you are fairly sure one of these players will defend. A call here is essentially a slow-play, but you are not strong enough to slow-play. I'd only limp if one of the blinds was super-aggressive and very likely to raise form the blind. Otherwise, get the money in, get them involved, take some more.

Peter B

Anonymous said...


I´m thinking about limit holdem because im sad. Also, I wanted a quick post, which I felt had some fairly clear cut answers. Surprisingly, no one has yet agreed with my soon to be posted answers, which may mean, as has happened b4, that I am totally wrong. It won´t be the first time.


Anonymous said...


Its worth checking out the RIU chain of hotels for the Canaries as they are top notch. Prolly avoid the ClubHotels tho, as they are all-inclusive kids galore kind of affairs.



Aksu said...

Fold 87o and 87s, raise others.
In reality I usually raise with 87s "by accident".

Other quick preflop question. Full table, early position player raises, middleposition 3bets others fold and OK player calls from SB. What hand(or range of hands) SB has?


Seed said...

I don't play limit but here are my guesses:

a) Raise - Likely to defend blinds and call or even raise you.
b) Fold - crap hand w/three
c) Call - fold to raise because he is likely to have you dominated.


b) Fold - Requires more multiway action
c) Call... and call a raise. Get away from it on a bad flop.

No-Limit I would play very differently.

A) Probably call, but if the table is loose I'd make a baby raise. Representing an overbet steal attempt is also an interesting move. Bet like 6 times the BB. I might do the last against an agressive big stack in the BB.
B) Call - fold to agressive raise.
c) Call - fold to agressive raise.


b) Raise - 3xBB. Hope for call and perfect flop. You are representing big cards and a you have a chance for a large payoff.
c) Raise - 3xBB. Ax suited and suited connectors play very similar. You are looking to break the other guy on this hand or get away from it quickly.

lokokid said...

Hi i am totally blown away with the blogs people have created its so much fun to read alot of good info and you have also one of the best blogs !! Have some time check my link to !!Making money the easy way