Tips from Graeme for playing $1 + NL tables

One of the better players I played against at JohnWoodGaming was a guy named Graeme.  He has been kind enough to share with PokerMoments some of his thoughts about playing no-limit, $1 poker.   Thanks!

My tips about how to play poker are aimed more at the $1+ NL tables as you are basically playing against players of the same standard as lower levels, but they are less likely to chase and more likely to fold to bluffs.

Choosing a Table: First thing which you have to do is find out what type of game you are better at.  Is it a 10 player table, a 5 player table or heads up?  Once you have figured this out stick to those types of games as you will improve massively at these types of games and should pick up a bit of money from players who do not know how to play these types of games properly.  (My favourite is a max 5 seater, as you are less likely to get outdrawn, you will probably have more live outs than a 10 seater and your reasonable/good hands A,10 Q,J are less likely to be dominated preflop)

Choosing your buy in: I would recommend that you buy in for at least half of the maximum buy in and strongly advise you not to buy in for small amounts and refill a couple of times if you go bust.  The reasons I say this are:

1)If you are short stacked you will play tighter and you are more likely to get people with mediocre hands calling you as the person you are playing will know they can’t lose too much if an all-in occurs.

2)When/If you get a brilliant hand and someone is betting into you, you will win more money from the pot if you have a larger stack as you can bet more.

3)People are more likely to steal from you if you have a small stack.

4)You are not able to bluff or steal blinds with a small stack.

Playing your hole cards: Without going into too much detail, I can only give you a few bits of advice on playing your hole cards.  Any pocket pair you get dealt lower than 10’s is only worth a call preflop.  If you raise preflop and get called you and the flop comes high you will most likely be scared to bet and have the pot stolen from you, whereas if you just call you can be a bit more aggressive on the flop (you will be offering lower pot odds, $2 into a $4 pot gives less pot odds for a call than $2 into an $8 pot)  Also if there is a small raise before you and several callers don’t be too quick in mucking your small connectors.  The likelihood is that these people will all have roughly the same hand and something like 7,8 could be a good hand to draw with.  If you miss, it is easy to fold; if you hit lightly, it is easy to fold; but if you hit a monster you should get a big payout.  An example of this is:

3 players call for flop. P1 has K,Q. P2 has A,K. You have 7,8. Flop comes 7,K,8.  P2 will bet out and will almost definitely be called by K,Q.  I would call the flop bet as A,K will not fold to an all in and K,Q would probably call too leaving the chance for a bad beat to occur.  Call all the way to the river unless another K or A comes, then push on the river (how much is determined by how “scary” the board is)

Betting: My favourite way of betting is to bet 3 times the Big Blind. This is high enough to make poor hands fold and reasonable ones call (9,10), and I will only raise if the pot hasn’t been raised before; if it has been raised I would call.  If I hit top or possibly even middle pair I would lead out with another 3xBB bet.  I would try and avoid RAISING all in, unless you have the absolute nuts, as this leaves everything to chance.  Depending on how good your hand is determines whether you should call an all in bet.  This may sound strange but a caller is more likely to win an all in against the raiser after seeing the flop, as the raiser is scared of possible draws or poor bluffing (Why give such bad pot odds if you want a call?), whereas the caller isn’t scared of the draw (otherwise why would he call?) and definitely has a hand (most times).

Here is a bit of information to help you, whatever level you are playing at when you are possibly drawing to a better hand.

Chances of hitting at least one of your outs (only works after the flop):  Count how many possible outs you have.  Once you have counted them times the figure by 2 for the turn and river respectively.  Add one to the figure just worked out and that is roughly the % chance you have of hitting one of your outs.

Eg. Hole cards Qs,Js   Flop 10s,3s,9d

Number of outs: 21 – 9 Spades, 3 8’s, 3 K’s, 3 Q’s, 3 J’s
Cards to come: Turn & River
Maths:  21x2x2+1 = 85%

If it is only the river left to turn over you only times the number of outs by 2 once, so if the turn drew a blank the odds for you now to hit one of your outs is: 21*2+1 = 43%

Now we know how to work out the probability of hitting one of our outs, we can now apply pot odds to know whether we should call or not.  Pot odds are worked out by the amount of money you have to pay to what is in the pot already, you then have to compare this amount to the chances of hitting one of your outs.

We will use 2 simple examples to demonstrate how pot odds work.

Example 1. Ah,”h  Flop “h,”h,”d  You have 9 outs for the flush +  3 for the ace – 12 outs – 49%

Pot is $15 with the bet to you at $5.  Therefore the pot odds are 33.33% (5/15×100)  You should call as the pot odds you are being offered is less than the chances of you hitting one of your outs.  In this situation you can justifiably call a bet up to the value of roughly $9 – 47.37% (9/19×100) whereas you should mathematically fold to a $10 bet – 50% (10/20×100)

Example 2. 5?,6? Flop 3,4,A rainbow (all different suits) Number of outs – 8 – 25%

Pot is $4 with the bet to you at $2 – 50%  You should fold here as you are not getting the correct pot odds to call.  The bet would have to be at $0.65 or less to make a call correct here.

One final thing.  Just because you hit an out, this does not mean that you will definitely win the hand, as you could be beaten by a higher fullhouse, flush, straight, set, 2 pair.  Therefore you should only class an out as a draw to a good hand (fullhouse, flush, straight) and not for just a small pair.

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