Lessons Learnt

Posted: August 31, 2006 in Atlantic City 2006

Home again after a week on the road, nice to be back in the right timezone after almost three months in India, Hong Kong and the US. So we did Atlantic City, and in the main we survived. Did we leave our mark? Probably not. Did we come home richer, guess so – all of us enriched by the hours at the poker table, and some of us with a modest pay-day to boot.

And so to lessons learnt, as promised on day 6. How was it that I was consistently winning in limit; Shane consistently winning in no-limit; and the boys struggling to stay afloat in either. Will leave Shane to explain his own success, but I think I can summarise my end, hopefully without unleashing flames from the rest of the crew!

#1 – Table selection

My top money making and money saving tip of the trip. There were so many games at so many limits available, why bother sticking to a table that’s not full of loosey goosey’s. The beauty of AC is that right through the low and mid limit tables, nobody has the first idea how to play. I saw a whole bunch of some of the weakest players I’ve ever had the pleasure to sit down opposite at both 6/12 and 7.50/15. So why waste hours trying to grind a few bucks out of a tight table when there’s money to be made next door, even if it means dropping down a level for a few hours? I walked away from too-tight tables three times on the trip, every time leaving one of the boys still sitting and trying to make a stand.

#2 – Seat selection

So, having picked the right table, it’s critical to pick the right seat. The books will tell you about trying to put the aggressive guy with big chips on your right or the passive skint guy on your left; ideally both. That’s all well and good, but over either I’ll take the idiot who doesn’t know how to look at his cards without flashing them at the table behind him. Doesn’t take much effort to outplay a guy who’s shown you his hand, eh? Even Albert could manage that one. 😉

To take this a little further though, just because you start in one seat, doesn’t mean you have to stick there. To illustrate the point I moved three times in as many hours somewhere mid-week, literally chasing a maniac around the table. He was a nutcase, raising randomly with almost anything. This was a guy I definitely wanted on my immediate right. Eventually he got fed-up with me exploiting his loose play and shifted tables – if he hadn’t’ve moved into the only seat at that lower limit I’d have changed again with him!

#3 – David Sklansky “Small Stakes Hold’em”

Good work, you’re at the right table, sitting in the right seat, so what to do next?! Well, hopefully you’ve prepared properly and read the bible on hooking the loose passive fish who populate the average low limit aquarium. I’m not going to try to summarise the book in a few paragraphs, suffice to say that it details exactly the adjustments you need to make against these sort of opponents – the novices who play too many hands, from thewrong positions, and take them too far.

#4 – Pay Attention to Your Opponents

Easy to say it, tough to do it – but watch those fish like a hungry seagull! Low limit players are a world of tells. Watch the guy on your left, he’ll usually telegraph his pre-flop action way out of turn, effectively putting himself ahead of you in the betting order. Watch everyone’s betting patterns, does the guy opposite bet or check top-pair on the flop?; is he a check-raise monster? (it’s usually a mistake if this sounds familiar); does he continuation bet his overcards on the turn when he still hasn’t hit after the first four cards are out?; you get the idea…

If you find your attention waning, play the Hellmuth game and be continually trying to put your opponents on a hand, even when you’re out of the action. Every little thing counts, don’t waste your time and value checking out the waitresses / cursing your 72o fold into a 772 flop (it was still the right thing to do) / day-dreaming about yesterday’s big win / chatting to your buddy on the table behind.

#5 – Pay Attention to Yourself

It might be fifth on my list, but I can’t overstress this one to be honest – pay absolute attention to your own play. Not just the easy stuff like are you on-tilt (perhaps in pale imitation of Albert “Tilt Master” Ho who can lose it even when he wins the hand, albeit after frustratingly only getting called by the half-asleep ace-flush when he had the straight-flush), but also the more subtle things like are you playing the right cards in the right position; are you coming over the top of guys who are capable of making a laydown rather than trying to bluff the calling stations (hey, we’ve all done it, just recognise it and don’t do it again!); are you calling your half-decent hands on the end (this is limit damn-it, whattaya doing folding?!!). There are a whole host of moderately poor plays that your opponents are making every hand, don’t let yourself fall into the same slack-jawed trap.

Well, that’s about it for my low- to mid-limit advice. If I can strong-arm the boys into it, next year will be Vegas 2007 where I’ll be testing myself against the 10/20 and 20/40 games, watch this space folks. 😉

Oh yeah, before I forget, #6 – Readjust Once You Come Home

Dumped £100 to the gentlemen of the weekly Mile End poker game this week, taking the same loose/aggressive small-stakes style into our regular and much tougher pot-limit dealer’s choice ring-game. D’oh!!

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