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The most common mistake made in limit poker is the thought that it’s all luck. To consistently win at limit poker, you need to keep attention on the game at all times. Playing after the flop will be crucial to your stack. One of the biggest keys to “winning poker” is cutting your losses. Making lay downs in limit is easier than most players make it. Tells in limit are more obvious than in no-limit. In no-limit poker, someone can put any bet out up to their entire stack. After which they put on their sunglasses, or their stone face. They know you’re going to be looking at them, so it’s time to do nothing. They can blow your pot odds out of the water by making a ridiculous bet. A fold is a lot easier when you don‘t have the right price. In limit, it’s in increments of the set amount. Pot odds are always high. This causes players to call more hands/draws. Always thinking of their draw, and never how obvious it would be if they hit it. Implied odds are rarely used, and the calls based solely on how they can make their hand. This structure causes players to chat with the players around them, and pay less attention to the game. The thought that it’s just limit poker. You can play the board, not the player. Due to the lack of attention, raisers get more active. They over-Hollywood their hands. They want your attention, they want you to see something that’s not there. Be aware, and pay attention! Here is an example that I witnessed dealing a 10-20 last week.
Ex: $10-20 Game – Caesars Indiana: 2 limpers, and a player raises from the cut-off. Small folds, and big calls. Flop comes A-A-7. Everyone checks, including the raiser who checks with a sour look on his face. Turn comes a 9. Everyone checks to the raiser, who stares at the board. After about 10 seconds, he decides to bet. He bets with an unsure look on his face. Big blind calls, everyone else folds. River is a 4. Big blind checks, same exact actions from the raiser. Big blind calls. Big blind turns over J9, and the raiser turns over AQ.
How did this happen? Let’s start from the beginning. After the raise, the big blind looks at his $10. Then he looks at the 2 callers behind him. He figures they’ll call, and he’s getting 7-1 on his money. He probably thinks if an Ace hits, or he misses he’ll lay down. Both the limpers call, and he gets what he wants. The flop hits, and it’s checked around. His 9 comes on the turn. With 2 Aces being on the board, he decides the raiser doesn’t have one. What he’s putting him on, I don’t know. He still checks, but has the look of confidence. After the raiser stares at the flop, the big blind really thinks he’s best. He calls instantly, almost beating the raiser into the pot. Limpers fold. On the river, he checks. The raiser does the same thing, and now he realizes he’s lost. He throws his money in realizing he’s beat. They both turn their hands over, and then he mucks his. The loser looks at me and says, “Now why’d you go and have to throw that 9 up on the turn.”
I just shook my head, and smiled. He doesn’t realize he threw his money away there with his donkey calls. A raiser will 9/10 bet a flop regardless. It’s when they don’t bet a flop when you should worry. Especially if they’re in last position. When he bet the turn, the player should’ve analyzed the hand. Tried to put the raiser on a hand. At best for him, the player could’ve had KQ, KJ, or 88. Hands that could beat him. AA,99,77,AK,AQ,AJ,KK,QQ,JJ, or 1010. Obviously there are more hands, but these are realistic raises from his position at the table. With only 2 limpers, it’s possible he could raise with A10. Most of the time though, AJ would be the smallest hand a player will raise with from that position. It’s not likely a player would raise with KJ from that position, but I’m giving this guy the benefit of the doubt. He didn’t think at all about what could beat him. He saw a 9, and blew $40 just like that. I say $40, because the call before the flop was not horrible. It’s probably a situation you should avoid normally, your position is just horrible. It’s not going to kill you to make that call though, if you play it right. Questionable situations happen all the time. When do you call with your second pair? When can you call your top pair against a raise? Does your opponent have a monster hand? Here are a few things to look for when you’re in these situations. Keep in mind to look at all players, not just the better.
– Players staring at a board like they’re worried, then betting. Major strength shown, get out. This is a sign of a monster. Normally they’re very close to the nuts, if not their already.
– Player staring at a board like they want to bet, then checking. Major weakness. This is usually a middle pair/big cards trying to see another card. They don’t want you to bet, so to slow you down they act like they’re going to bet. Normally they will pick up chips, or act like they’re going to before checking.
– The way they talk. Did they get really quiet after seeing their hand? This is a HUGE sign of strength. If a hand can completely make someone stop what they’re doing, then get out of the way.
– Is a player constantly raising with marginal hands? KQ, KJ,K10, A-suited. Players like this normally will bet any flop, regardless if they hit or miss. You have to call these guys to get information. Make them show down a hand or two, and watch their actions. This is a great way to get easy money if you can put them on a strong/weak hand. Great opportunity to check-raise on the flop.
– Was a big draw hit? A third flush card, or an open-ended draw hit. If you are check-raised in this situation, don’t be afraid to lay it down. You know you’re beat here. He made his draw, and he’s trying to suck more money out of you. You can save 2 big bets by laying down here.
– In a capped out pre-flop, look for little things. A guy who caps but says “I knew they were gonna cap it anyway, so I did it for them.” This is normally a very big hand. They’re greedy enough to raise it, but they want to camouflage their hand. If you’re the original raiser with AQ or 1010, I suggest laying down. You can call there, but be careful. It’s an easy way to lose a lot of chips.
There are plenty more, but I’ll start with these few. These moves are made everyday, in every casino. Being in the box has been a great experience for me, but I’m shocked by what I’ve witnessed. I’m sure everyone has made those donkey calls from time to time, but this is extreme. If you want to make money, you must be able to lay down hands. These are classic tells. You can read about them or by your favorite players DVD. Everyone knows them, but no one pays attention. You must capitalize on these situations. Read your opponents, and worry more about talking to your friends away from the poker table. If you save yourself 10 big bets a night by laying down hands, you’ll be surprised what that’ll add up to in a week/month/year. Take limit poker seriously, and it can be beautiful. It doesn’t have to be the pinto of poker.
Poker Dealer – Caesars Indiana