Things I Have Learned-age 57
By Roy Cooke
Limit and No-Limit have considerable transferable knowledge. Tells, game theories, pot odds and implied odds, concepts and calculations, competitive skills such as focus and emotional control all play similarly as well as many other skill sets. But additional features of the games play very differently. The ability in no-limit to bet whatever amount you want adds a new characteristic to hold’em, both in bluffing theories as well as the ability to offer your opponent(s) odds.
Switching from being a solid limit player to a no-limit player has been more difficult than I initially envisioned. My limit skills were strong enough to convert me immediately to a winner at the $2-5 level, but effectively reading hands/situations is an area where I’m making a lot of errors. While my focus is very good, my experience level isn’t. If you can’t put your no-limit opponents on a reasonably accurate range of hands, you’re going to make strategic miscalculations, and I do. Additionally, some of the concepts that changed with the addition of larger betting sizes have been slow to take hold mentally; my limit instincts often come to the forefront of my mind. That said, I’m growing my no-limit game quickly with a great coaching staff and work ethic.
Here are some things I’ve learned:
I’ve learned that the sophistication of the computer has brought the study of poker to a different level. The ability to analyze strategies as well as download millions of hands into computers has quickly changed the game. The ability to analyze hand ranges and flops with programs like Flopzilla as well as calculate strategies based on data-mining Internet Poker sites databases have strengthened the “science” of poker and weakened people who were strong in the “art” of poker. But while computers are capable of making adjustments based on hand ranges, most programs blend averages of massive data in calculating the best play. And while this often generates the best play, when the parameters of the situation fall outside average ranges, the computer generated play is often incorrect.
My master-planned strategy is to learn a base play style, one congruent with my personality and disposition and use it as a base guideline. For me, that’s going to be solid, trapping, steady style. That will improve my consistency, help keep me emotionally more stable and be an easy strategy to learn and maintain. I’m not saying I won’t make aggressive plays, but I’m not going to start my no-limit learning experience with a wide-open, high fluctuation style.
From there, I’ll use my strong competitive skills to ascertain when conditions arise that require a change in strategy. By using this formula, I’ll have an easy to mentally access base strategy and will still make the appropriate needed adjustments. By mentally framing my thought processes like this, I’ll have a relatively easy to remember strategy that I can always revert to in difficult situations. Most importantly, this approach will keep me playing consistently, less prone to emotional errors and mental fluctuations. My pre-flop base strategies are mostly already memorized. My post-flop strategies are still a work in progress, and likely always will be.
I’ve also learned that in no-limit I must take steps protect my stack in vulnerable situations and focus more on winning my opponent’s stack rather than protecting the money already in the pot. Because the bets are so much bigger, in no-limit it’s important not to make the pot too big when you’re in vulnerable circumstances. When you bet too big early and often, you’ll often find yourself trapped, “potstuck” and losing much more in weak situations. That said, many players take this concept to far and don’t bet in situations in which they have significant value. Yes, it’s a fine line, but don’t pass on the value of your hand if the situation is easy to read and/or your hand is not very vulnerable to a raise-bluff.
Additionally, most apprentice no-limit players tend to over-bet their hands in an effort to “protect” their hand and in doing so often lose much of the value of their holding. When the EV value of the potential future bets called is greater than the assumption of risk of being drawn out on, you should strive to obtain the +EV on the future bets. Since, in no-limit you can bet whatever amount you want, this equation is controlled by you. Bet the most you think your opponent will call with the highest level of EV. If your opponent(s) won’t make the call with –EV, then you’re better off shutting them out of the pot rather than giving them the correct odds to call. Once again, in order to calculate this accurately, you need to be a good hand/people reader. Of important note, make your bet size determination based on your opponents’ potential range of hands and NOT just put them on the hand(s) in their range with the most outs. Yeah, you’ll get drawn out on more often playing this way and that’s definitely no fun, but in the long haul you’ll win more money and that’ll be great fun.
Along the same lines, I’ve learned not to turn hands into a bluff or “overprotect” holdings that will do better if they are played out. Since no-limit bets are larger, the reward for making a hand over hand is larger. If your raise folds out much of your opponent’s range that you dominate and you can trap him for significant bets post flop, you’ll do better playing the hand for value. Yes, you might be passing on a small equity edge, but if your raise folds out the portion of your opponent’s range that will pay you off if you both hit, you’ve succeeded in shielding your opponent from much of the big negative equity of the situation.
These are some of the major basics I’ve learned so far. The fine points and instinct development will come with time and experience. Piece by piece, month by month I’m going to grow my game. It’s a development project, like weightlifting. I’m accepting the fact it’s going to take time and effort, but know the project is going to add great enjoyment and value to my life.
I’m looking forward to sharing my growth with you!
Roy Cooke played poker professionally for 16 years and has over 60,000 hours of poker experience. He is currently a successful Las Vegas Real Estate Broker/Salesman, but can still often be found playing at Las Vegas’s poker rooms.
If you have any questions regarding Real Estate or wish to buy or sell a home, land, commercial, investment property, or mortgage an existing one, contact Roy or Misty Cooke at 702-376-1515. Their website is at www.RoyCooke.com which includes Roy’s Poker Room that has many of Roy Columns. Roy’s E-mail is RoyCooke123@gmail.com. You can also find him on Facebook.