Monday, May 21, 2007

"Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games"

I don't know what it was exactly that made me think limit hold 'em would be more profitable than no limit. Part of it was the allure of make 2 BB/hr at 15/30, which I thought would be an incredible winrate. It seemed like it would be easy to win one decent pot per hour at those full-ring donkfests back in the Party Poker days, when there were plenty of tables and they all seemed loose.

When I finally got to 15/30, I got smacked. I lost 2/3 of my bankroll and spent five months rebuilding it. Shortly afterward I began focusing on no limit, but I'm glad I spent time learning limit because it made me a stronger, more analytical player.

Two of the biggest leaks in my limit game were that I couldn't figure out how to play well from the blinds, and I didn't know how to handle loose-aggressive players.

"Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games: Short handed and High-Stakes Concepts and Theory for Limit Hold 'em," by Nick "Stoxtrader" Grudzien and Geoff "Zobags" Herzog is the book that I wish I had back then.

This is easily the best limit hold 'em book I've read, better than "Small Stakes Hold 'em," "Winning Low-Limit Hold 'em" and "Hold 'em for Advanced Players." That's saying a lot.

The great thing about this book is that it's practical, and it reflects the reality of today's online limit games. It's written by experts who know what the 6-max tables are like -- often with table VP$IPs around 40 and filled with aggressive players who will see showdowns at a rate that would quickly break no limit players. And the reason the games are filled with those kinds of players is that they're not very wrong to be playing like that.

For example, according to the book:

If you're not seeing showdown near 37 percent of the time you see a flop, you're probably folding too much. If you don't 3-bet preflop from the small blind around 90 percent of the time you're going to play a hand against a steal raise, you're making a big mistake. If you fold Axo or Qxs in the big blind vs. a steal, you're giving away money.

From reading board texture to adjusting for different styles to determining when it's safe to fold for one more bet on the river, this book covers a lot of ground.

It starts out with several hand charts, PokerTracker records and equity values in the first chunk of the book. These form the reference material that the rest of the book is based on, but I didn't spend a lot of time trying to memorize any of these data.

Then the book moves on to stealing, blind defense, semibluffing, betting lines, modernized bankroll advice and hand quizzes. This is great stuff.

I like to evaluate books based on whether they make me a better player when I sit at the tables. Unlike some poker books I've read, I notice the difference in my play on many hands. I've been winning more often and stealing more pots.

Online limit has died down over the last couple of years, but the shorthanded games especially are still wild. I've seen some god-awful play at all limits. Everyone wants to be an aggressive force who can control the action and get in with the best of it. "Winning in Tough Hold 'em Games" tells you how to do it.

1 comment:

Chad Carpenter (Yahoo IM: carchd) said...

I am a freaking retard. I just ordered and received this book and I thought it was for NL!!! I can't play limit, I don't have a vagina!!!