Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Live Game Selection - Playing the right size game

Here's a rarity for you at PokerStage, a strategy post. Not much strategy emanating from Donk Central usually, but this is kinda an important thing to keep in mind as you're bouncing around in the poker world where poker is illegal and you don't have casinos with structured games to choose from all that often.

It's really important to understand your game and at what level you play your best.

Let's look at that again. It's really important to understand your game and at what level you play your best.

So with anything, we need examples. Okey-doke. I just left a small home game, where after about 45 minutes I had almost every chip on the table and was up about $80 on the evening. By the time I left, I had not a single chip and was stuck $50 for the night. This game played too small for me and I couldn't pay enough attention to play optimally, and I ended up loser for the night. On the other end of the spectrum, some of these uncapped NL games that I've played at in these underground card room around town play bigger than I'm comfortable playing, and that hamstrings me in a different direction.

I do well in our home game, which is a $50 max buy-in game, but with $700+ on the table, it plays a little bigger than the typical $50 game. I do well in $1/2 in casinos where the buy-in is capped, because no one can sit down with an $1800 stack for a 1/2 game and run me over. My game is predicated on applying pressure to my opponents and forcing them to fold when I want them to. If the game is too big or too small, that tool is taken away from me and I cannot play my best game. If I'm not playing my best game, I'm probably not going to have the most profitable results.

So pay attention to that kind of stuff. If you're a particularly tight player, you don't want to play at a 6-handed table. If you're a LAG, you don't mind playing short at ALL. If you want to be able to push people around, you can't be the tiny stack at the table, so playing way above your bankroll is probably a bad idea. If you're a nut peddler, then you want a full table where you can wait for premium hands to commit chips with. If you don't have many options in where to play, you have to be more flexible in your playing style. That's where I got into trouble tonight. Once I had established my maniac table image, the game got too shorthanded to really sit back and ratchet down, so I bled chips. Then once the other guys at the table had chips, I was outgunned and instead of rebuying for a full $50, I rebought for $20 like everyone else had been doing. So I hamstrung myself again, by playing a suboptimal game with not enough ammo.

Now this only matters if you care about winning. If you're just playing to have fun, then who gives a shit, right? Well, all I got to say to that is, it's a whole lot more fun to win than it is to lose.

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