Thursday, February 4, 2010

Small Stakes Hold 'Em For Life

The book Small Stakes Hold 'Em (SSHE) is considered nearly a holy book on the Small Stakes forum of Two Plus Two. I've read it cover to cover two or three times and flip through it every now and again just to brush up on some concepts. It preaches what was previously considered a loose aggressive style in an attempt to take advantage of your opponents' primary weakness, calling too many bets with not enough pot equity. This hand I just played online illustrates the concepts from SSHE combined with basic hand reading to result in me dragging a huge pot with second pair.

Full Tilt Poker $3/$6 Limit Hold'em - 6 players
The Official 2+2 Hand Converter Powered By

Pre Flop: (2 SB) Hero is BB with K J
UTG calls, 1 fold, CO calls, BTN calls, SB calls, Hero raises, UTG calls, CO calls, BTN calls, SB calls

Flop: (10 SB) A T J (5 players)
SB checks, Hero bets, UTG calls, CO calls, BTN folds, SB folds

Turn: (6.5 BB) 4 (3 players)
Hero bets, UTG calls, CO calls

River: (9.5 BB) 8 (3 players)
Hero bets, UTG calls, CO calls

Final Pot: 12.5 BB
Hero shows K J (a pair of Jacks)
UTG mucks 3 T
CO mucks J 9
Hero wins 12.25 BB
(Rake: $1.50)


This is the the type of raise that SSHE demands you make preflop. First of all, you might have the best hand, and if you don't, your hand is basically a big-ass suited connector that should play very well in a bloated 5 way pot. By raising you tie your opponents to the pot, encouraging them further to call down hopelessly.


At this level online it's pretty unlikely that any of my opponents even have an ace. Most of them are much more aggressive preflop than my live opposition, so their limping ranges are actually very, very weak. Now of course it's possible somebody has one, but even if he does it's almost certainly a crappy one (A9 or lower) and against such a hand I have a virtual cornucopia of outs, so I bet basically for value with second pair against 4 opponents.


The turn is a complete brick, with the caveat that it did put up a flush draw (most of the cards in the deck would have done that, though), and I bet again for value. The lack of a raise on the flop makes me even more confident my hand is currently best, although once they both call you have to ask yourself what exactly do these people have? It's actually not even that likely that they hold something like QJ or QT, a hand with both a pair and an gut shot, as even from those hands I'd expect to get raised at least once. So what's going on here when they both call?


This is another piece of take home advice from SSHE; value bet the river. When in doubt, bet the river. A small stakes poster (Bob T) once suggested that if you're thinking about not betting the river, take a moment to consider worse hands that your opponents could conceivably have and call a bet with. If you can think of two, you should bet. To be honest there aren't two hands that make sense here (there are in fact none that I could have played the way my opponents have) that I can beat, but I decide to bet anyway. The pot is huge, and I can probably get a WTF call from a worse jack (except like I said, I don't think anybody can have QJ because I'd have expected a raise at some point). So I fire and when they both call I assume that at least the over caller has played some shitty ace passively. But no...both their hands hit the muck and I drag a 12+ big bet pot with second pair in 5 way raised pot where I bet or raised at every single opportunity and my opponents likewise checked or called every time they could.


TomB said...

Jesse: Do you spend a lot of time playing online? Do you prefer the live games? A brief canvass of your earlier blogs seems to indicate you play mostly live. Just would like to hear your explanation. [Also, how do you get those colored card "pips" into your posts?] Thanks.

The blindman said...

Good post. I'm curious as to why you seem to play mostly 3/6 online - a much smaller stake than live. Wouldn't you be rolled for (and a winning player at) 10/20 or so? Do you play many tables at a time?

bravos1 said...


you have to understand that live stakes != online stakes. The difference is typically a 8-10x magnitude. Online games are MUCH tougher, aggressive, and harder to beat at comparable stakes.

A 2/4 online game will play no where near a 2/4 live game. 2/4 online is more like a 20/40 or 30/60 game.

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