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The 2-5 No Limit Hold’em level of cash games is the beginning point where a significant amount of money can be made. At lower levels, the lack of stack depth and higher relative rake cut into profits to a large degree. An intelligent player at these stakes in poker can make enough money to grind out a living if need be. Through countless hours playing in these games, I have recognized a few key traits that are possessed by the best players at these stakes. This article will focus on 100 Big Blind capped buy-in games because 1) This was the structure used when I came up playing and I have a lot of experience, and 2) There are specific adjustments that must be made to maximize your win rate in these games due to the shallower stacks. Some of the topics I will be covering will include: calling too much pre-flop, value betting, recognizing player types, avoiding fancy play, limping and 3-betting.


Strategy
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Mindset
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Now that I’ve finished my six part series on playing draws (whew!), I want to do a series on bluffing and semi-bluffing. This three-part series will only scratch the surface of this complicated topic, but I plan to address some of the most common mistakes I see made in this area.

In this first part, I’m going to give a high-level overview of the math behind bluffing. In part 2, I’ll talk about what hands you should bluff with. Finally, in part 3 we’ll look at some practical tips and examples. Ready?



Conserving my Stack in the WSOP Main Event

This interesting hand took place in the 2018 $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas. Around 30% of the players who started the tournament remained in contention. The blinds were 1,000/2,000 with a 300 ante. Everyone folded around to me in the hijack seat. I raised with AQ to 4,500. The Button, a loose aggressive kid, and the Big Blind, a splashy, straightforward player who typically overvalues his marginal made hands, called.


Hand Analysis
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Strategy
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While I feel like I have a fairly solid grasp on how to play fundamentally sound poker, I have found that I have been calling a bit too often with good, but second best, hands when my opponents seem to be willing to put all of their money in the pot. I have been working hard to plug this leak. This hand demonstrates my progress.


Hand Analysis
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Strategy
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I was recently told about a poker hand that illustrates a few key errors that many amateur players make on a regular basis. Somewhat early in a $120 buy-in tournament with blinds at 200/400 with a 50 ante, a straightforward recreational player in first position raised to 800 out of his 12,000 effective stack and the player in the cutoff, who was loose and passive, called. Hero looked down at AKand decided to 3-bet to 2,100.


Hand Analysis
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Strategy
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This is the sixth and final article in my series on playing draws. We’ve been talking specifically about flush draws and open-ended straight draws.

Finally, I want to briefly talk about backdoor draws and how even they can be critical in your decision making process.



I was recently told about a hand from a $75 buy-in poker tournament that illustrates a major mistake many recreational players make with premium, but possibly second-best, hands.

With blinds at 2,000/4,000 with a 400 ante, an unknown player in second position raised to 9,100 out of his 160,000 effective stack. The player in the hijack and cutoff seats both called, as did our Hero on the button with 87



The Limitations of Exploitative Play

I love teaching the everyman how to play poker, because I can identify with them.

Growing up, I loved competition. Unfortunately, competition didn’t love me. I wasn’t athletic enough to excel in sports. I wasn’t intelligent enough to play chess competitively, or to compete within academia. My glacially slow mind wasn’t appropriate for video games.

Simultaneously, I found real life to be mundane. I couldn’t stand school. I was bored out of my mind when I was working security, commercial fishing, landscaping, and cooking jobs.

I just wanted something to happen. Anything.


Strategy
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Before I start into the fourth part of my six-part series on playing draws, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far. In the first three segments we talked about playing draws out of position, and found out that:

  1. Some draws are meant to be played aggressively (e.g., check-raise with them). Some draws are meant to be played passively (e.g., check-call with them). It is not correct to randomly choose one of these approaches!
  2. When playing a draw aggressively, we want to choose the line (and bet sizing) that will maximize our fold equity.
  3. If we plan to check-raise with a draw, and our opponent is a good player, we need to be careful to make sure we have enough legitimate value check-raising hands in our range as well. Otherwise, our opponent will sniff out our semi-bluff and punish us.

Strategy
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Mindset
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Learning when to turn a made hand into a bluff is one of the most beneficial lessons for mid-stakes players. It takes study, practice and experience, but with a few key tricks you will be able to better navigate river decisions and understand when to turn your hand into a bluff.


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