Sunday, March 05, 2006

Hyenas At The Table

The last few nights at the Stud-8 tables have been fun.

Sitting with Ray Zee open at the starting hands section is easy enough. What's interesting is seeing how the hands develop, particularly trying to work out what the heck my opponents are up to.

Playing at the micro limits, the competition is hardly likely to be stellar, and I've lost a few pots to very odds hands, but overall I'm comfortably ahead in Big Bets, if not in monetary terms.

Despite the very low stakes, I'm playing each hand seriously. I'm here to learn.

One thing I've already discovered is that in limit Stud-8, playing against unaware, or inexperienced, players can actually be LESS profitable.

Not because of any 'they play any cards and keep getting lucky' reasons, but because sometimes they don't seem to know they've got the best hand and just won't raise.

Team playing in poker is a big taboo (for most people!), but in Stud-8 situations arise where two players are implicitly teamed for the duration of the hand - usually on 5th or 6th street.

Where one player has clearly made the best low, and another player has a big high made, anyone drawing to a better hand, or who simply hasn't realised they are second best, SHOULD be severely published.

Ray Zee consistently warns about the danger of getting sandwiched in this situation, between two hands which must jam the pot.

Thus the lone wolf, or shark, suddenly becomes a team hunter, collaborating to extract the maximum from a hapless prey.

I raise. I re-raise
Or at least they should...I've already found myself on several occasions shouting at the screen 'raise! raise!', as someone passively calls down with the best low in a multiway pot.

I'm sure this is something which will change as I move up the limits, and my game will have to adjust accordingly.

Right now, if I'm looking at a nut draw, I can afford to take it on since the players are so passive. At higher limits, I'd expect the made hands to punish draws severely.

This wouldn't be such an issue in a pot-limit game, where pot size bets over several streets will escalate rapidly, but in a limit game it lets the donkeys away very lightly.

There's no point getting too bothered about it. That's the nature of the limits I'm playing at, but it's important not to develop a bad habit that will become an expensive leak later.

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