8 Game Strategy Part VI – No Limit Hold’em
One reason that 8-Game became the option for the Poker Player’s Championship at the World Series of Poker is that it includes NL Hold’em. It is the game most everyone nowadays cuts their teeth on. It is the one round where you will see the most action.
Often, players will wait until this round to try and win big pots or double up. If you are playing 8-Game, here are a few NL Hold’em tips to help you stay afloat and pick up chips.
Tighten Up Your Range
The first thing you see many players do during the NL round is to loosen up their game and try to play it like they would a typical NL Hold’em tournament. When you do this, you are setting yourself up to play a lot of big pots. That’s because you will have short stacks and weaker mixed game players looking to double in this round.
As such, you need to tighten up your range, particularly in early position. Play more of an ABC poker style in early position and only slightly open up that range in middle position. You can play a bit more loosely in late position, but don’t go Gus Hansen and play any two cards.
Aggression Over Fancy Play
In an 8-Game round, you are likely going to be limited to a set number of hands. This can be anywhere from a single orbit to 20 hands. Regardless, you are not going to have the time to recover from a mistake or when a fancy play goes wrong.
Play more of an aggressive style over playing small ball or other fancier styles of poker. Most players are looking to try and survive the NL round until they can get back to more structured games. Often, aggression will force opponents out. At worst, you can put them on a range and decide whether it’s worth it to continue playing.
Be First Into the Pot With a Short Stack
If you’re a short stack in an NL Hold’em round, you need to take advantage of that fact. Most players are going to assume you’re shoving whenever you play, so try and take advantage of this fact. When possible, be the first person into the pot. You don’t necessarily have to shove, but raise enough to where it makes it clear you’re willing to play for your entire stack.
Don’t Pick on the Short Stacks Without a Read
I can’t tell you how many times I will see a big stack or an aggressive player try and bully a short stack without a proper read. This often results in the short stack getting their chips in with the best hand and the aggressive player having to double them up.
If you have not seen the short-stacked player play anything but non-Hold’em games, don’t assume their play will be the same in NL. Some NL players absolutely suck at mixed games and are going to use Hold’em to stay afloat. When you pick on them, you’ll end up donating chips. So don’t do it unless you have the cards to back it up.
Target the Mixed Game Specialists
You are going to have some players at the table who are clearly superior at mixed games, but not PL or NL games. These are the players you are going to make money against in NL. They are not going to be in any hands unless they have good holdings and are probably not going to risk their entire stacks unless they have the best of it.
These are the players you will want to raise more often against. Often, they will simply get out of the way and wait for the Limit games. You won’t double up or win big pots, but you can add chips to your stack.
Next week, we take a look at PL Omaha. PLO is the other big pot game in the mix and solid play will help keep you in the running.