Low limit Texas Holdem.
Low limit Texas Holdem tables are where most “fish” congregate. On one hand, they’re drawn by the fact that Texas Holdem is the most popular game and as such, it’s the poker variant they themselves have learnt first. On the other hand, they prefer low limits/stakes because they know they wouldn’t really stand a chance against someone experienced, and they want to lose as little money as possible while building up some real money prowess.
The very first thing novice poker players should avoid when playing low limit Texas Holdem is wild fluctuation. This usually occurs when advanced players play a lot of marginal hands. It is not a bad move or a particularly bright one either, it’s just that novices are ill prepared to handle the consequences of this play.
Picture the following scenario: our guy hits a low limit real money table for the first time. He gets lucky and pretty soon he has $20 gathered up nice and fine. At the end of the session, he’s a triumphant winner, looking forward to having a couple more hours off to return to the tables. Next session, again, he walks away with $10 and he starts thinking about putting in more time at the table.
Does rakeback give you a long term edge over your no rakeback competitors? You bet it does. At the end of the month, you’ll be getting a percentage of your rake back (which can be quite a lot if you’re a high stakes player) and they’ll be getting zilch. Start earning rakeback now.
Third time he loses $25. Despite the fact that he is still $5 ahead, he is completely disillusioned. Next time he plays, he loses some more and that’s it for him. He won’t ever again seriously consider spending more time at the online poker tables.
This is the predicament many a rookie player is faced with. They simply cannot handle variance.
In order to beat high variance, a novice has to stick to the basics. Avoid marginal hands as much as possible, and act on those that have a high positive EV.
The problem here is that some rookies find it difficult to make any progress even when they act on strong hands. The often aggressive preflop action seems to discourage them and make them fold hands they should’ve acted on. Perhaps if they knew why the preflop action happened, they’d be less intimidated by it.
Good poker players know that when they go up against a whole bunch of opponents, the mob will always have the edge on the individual. This is the reason they try to break that mob up, so by the time they reach post-flop betting, the opposition is more manageable.
They achieve this via preflop betting. As you well know, most weak players and some good ones too (those who have a crappy starting hand yet they’d like to see the flop if it were for free or really cheap) will fold to preflop action. That will have the mob seriously depleted, so after the flop, every single hand still in the game will have much better odds.
The other reason for preflop betting is to generate dead money. It is absolutely amazing how many poor players will pay hard cash to see the flop just to fold afterwards when it misses them. This is what these guys try to capitalize on. Such dead money in the pot after the flop means increased positive Expected Value for every remaining player.
Strong blinds play also generates quite a lot of preflop action. Players trying to steal blinds and others trying to defend them often create a frenzy of preflop betting. Since we all know that at lower limits solid blinds play is the key to beating the game, it is kind of natural too.
Sign up bonuses are a form of limited rakeback, because by unlocking them you’ll basically get a part of your rake back. Bonus redemption is always a function of the poker rake you generate, so it’s pretty clear why. A rakeback deal however never expires and you’ll continue reaping its benefits long after your bonus has expired or has been unlocked entirely.
Now that you now why not all preflop raisers are brainless bullies, maybe you’ll think twice next time about letting them intimidate you. Poker is not only about acting on certain hands. It is also about molding the situation so that it suits the hand you have. Just like in betting acting passive is not enough, acting passive in general ain’t enough either. Maybe you don’t like that hand. that doesn’t mean someone (a good poker player) couldn’t win the pot on it, simply by creating the right circumstances for that particular hand to become a winner.
Try to become that player. Don’t sit around and wait for the good things to come to you. Go out there and fetch them yourself.