Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cap Limit Musings

Contrary to what you might be thinking from my last few posts, I have actually been playing some poker. Life hasn't been all rehearsals and theatre festivals, just 80% of it. When I've been playing, I've been inhabiting mostly the Cap No Limit tables at Full Tilt, so I thought I'd scribble down some impressions on how the Cap Limit game is different from standard No Limit.

Well, it's capped. I know, duh. But basically that means that your Risk of Ruin on any given hand is significantly decreased. While your betting is unstructured, you can only put in a max of a given amount (I play the $.50/$1 tables, and the max is $30, so I think it's usually 30XBB for the cap) for each hand. Once your betting has reached the cap, you're treated as All In.

So why am I hanging out around these tables instead of the No Limit tables? Because they're making me more money (I know, I just cursed it). The Cap allows me to play at a higher level than I'm bankrolled for by standard bankroll management theories, which says that to play NL100 I need to have at least a $3,000 bankroll. I currently do not have a $3,000 bankroll, although I do have a nice new digital camera and two plane tickets to Vegas in 15 days, so I'll take the trade. But the Cap games allow me to play higher while risking on one hand no more than I'm risking at a NL25 game, which keeps me interested.

I play a very aggressive style of poker. I know, big friggin' surprise. I raise a LOT. That means that I don't often see the river, and frequently don't see a flop. Now I know that's what I like, but I hate making a good preflop raise and driving everyone out, only to pick up $.75. So at a cap game I'm able to take down a pot preflop for $3, which makes me much happier. So my blind steals are much more profitable, which is a big part of my game. And when I get one caller who then folds to my continuation bet, I'm picking up $6-9, which is even better.

But how does it play out if they don't fold? Well, I'm glad you asked (or at least glad that you are allowing me this silly literary device that lets me pretend we're having a conversation instead of you being my invisible internet friend). After the flop is where I feel that the cap games really benefit the aggressive player. If you've read Pressure Poker (and if not, why not!?!?), you understand that aggressive play is profitable play, and if you're the one applying the pressure, then you're forcing your opponents to make tough decisions all the time, while your decisions are pretty easy. The cap games are beautiful for this, as the cap takes away the most potent weapon in a No-Limit game, the over-the-top re-raise.

Let's look at a hand from last night. I don't have the hand history, so you'll just have to suffer my narrative skillz a little further. I'm at a $.50/$1 Cap No Limit Game with about $100 in front of me. Stack size is obviously irrelevant, since the Cap is $30. It's a 6-max table, and I'm in middle position. I pick up AKh, and raise to $3. I get two callers, and lead out for $5 with a flop that includes the JQh and a black rag. This bet is a pattern that I've worked for a while to build up, regardless of my holding and whether the flop hit me or not - if I'm first in the pot preflop, I raise to $3, and then I bet $5 on the flop regardless of hand strength.

I get one caller. I've now invested $8 into the pot, and the cap has $22 remaining. The turn comes a black T, and my opponent (who was the BB), led out for $15. Now this is where the game is lovely. Aside from the fact that I have the nut straight with a redraw to the nut flush, I am pretty much guaranteed to get the last bet out of him at this point, because there's only $7 left to the cap. In a normal NL game, where our entire stacks were at risk, I would have a very difficult decision to figure out the maximum I could get from this opponent, and he would still have the opportunity to push over the top of me with a monster bet. As it is, I raise the $7, he calls with his J9o, and the pot ships my way.

The structure of the cap games prohibited my opponent from any effectiveness in pushing me off my hand. Regardless of the fact that I had the nuts with a redraw, there simply wasn't enough room under the cap for him to put any pressure back onto me. So for a LAG like me, the preflop and flop action that I generate makes all my decisions on later streets easier because of the cap. It also makes it harder for opponents to get away from their obviously second-best hands, becuase the "awwfuckits" are more likely to set in, because of the cap. That's something I have to constantly watch out for, and try to hang on to my small bets when I think I'm beat.

Something odd to think about for me in the cap games, though, is the fact that my implied odds are dramatically diminished. When I'm calling a raise on the button with 64c (yes, occassionally), I'm looking at an opponent's entire stack as my implied odds, because if I hit with 64, I'm getting paid. But with a cap on the betting, it's not worth as much to call with trash, because I can't get an opponent's whole stack, I can just get the amount of the cap. So that's an adjustment I'm just beginning to make.

I also think that these games are great transitional games for limit players wanting to switch over to no limit, because of the limited risk of ruin, which is very similar to the level of a limit game. It's also good for new players, so they can get their feet wet with some bigger bets than at a baby table, but still not blow their whole bankroll in one session.

So that's where I've been and what I think about the Cap games. The 6-max at my limits have been very profitable, allowing me to pretty much double my last FT deposit in the past month, so I obviously like them.


Pokerwolf said...

Thanks for posting about the cap games. I've been curious about them for awhile now.

I'm guessing that playing at a 6-max table is smarter because you can see more hands, can be more aggressive, and people will commit more money to their hands because there's less people to get involved in a pot. Am I right?

Falstaff said...

That's exactly how it plays. Not to mention there are more 6-max tables available.

TripJax said...

I'd say the 6 4 suited type hands would play out well if you are at a limping table where you might can get 2 or 3 people to the river if ou hit a nice hand. It would almost be like ramming and jamming in a limit game if you can control the betting and still end up getting everyone all-in when it is all said and done. Otherwise, you are right, those hands become a different animal in the cap games...

TripJax said...

Also, I hadn't thought about the increase in limits since the cap is sort of a cushion. Good point...

Anonymous said...

I just posted something similar about the cap games on FT. I love 'em. They've been my bread and butter the past week.

I just hope I don't get a case of the "awwfuckits" anytime soon.

Good stuff.