07- 8-05, LearnTexasHoldem:

Loose 10/20 And Up Limit Games

Question : I wonder if you would compose an article on 10/20 and up limit holdem loose play.

I recently played in a loose 10/20 limit holdem game and got killed.

Just so we have the same understanding of loose. It consider loose to be calling preflop with just about any 2 cards. Also address if you can passive loose play and aggressive loose play.

I guess it is time to step down and regroup . I dislike 5/10 and 6/12 because nobody folds and you constantly get sucked out . As a general rule, what is good time guide line for saying to your self that this has the makings of a bad day, and quit til next session, or leave your current table and return later that day ? Please answer what you can. Sorry for rambling, just a frustrated holdem player !!!

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Answer: Yeah, I'll make a note of that and get it up this next week. Right now, let me just jot down a few points that come to mind.

1. Why is this game hard for you to beat? What is giving you trouble? Is it that you think people are calling you down too much and you can't get anything to hold up? Knowing what the problem is, is the first step to fixing it. I think there is a misconception that very loose games are harder to beat than regular tighter games. That couldn't be farther from the truth. You want as many bad players at the table as you can get. You just need to use a different approach to beating them.

2. Much of what is taught in holdem literature is hard to apply to very loose games since you end up playing far too few hands. I have a player in mind that I played with yesterday. I hadn't seen him in a couple years, but he still had the same leather ass style. No matter how loose the game was, he was still playing extremely tight. Of course he lost. He never had a chance. In addition to getting run down on the few hands he played, he had the tendency to overvalue his cards against the loose players. When a bad player raises post flop, it usually means something.

For example, I saw him cap JJ with an 8 high flop against a very loose player. Just watching the hand I already knew that the tight player was behind. He lost the maximum against the other guy's two pair. All he could do is bitch and complain about how the bad player called preflop with 84s. You need to be able to adjust to different games. I can beat games that are tight and aggressive, or loose and passive. This comes from a deeper understanding of the game and how hand values change as the game gets crazy. It is hard to adjust though, if you don't know what to adjust too. When I write that article about loose games, I'll go into more detail.

3. Do more value betting, less semi-bluffing. A value bet is betting a hand that you think is probably good, but not that strong. For example, I had 99 yesterday. I raised it preflop, got two callers (bad players). The flop came back J-8-4. I bet it down the entire way and one of them called me. That is a value bet. A semi-bluff would be to try and raise someone in the same spot after they bet into me. That wouldn't be a good play against a really weak player. It would be much better just to wait for the next pot where I think I'm ahead and get my money in there.

Any kind of fancy aggressive betting to push someone off a hand isn't going to work against bad players. Say you raise with AK preflop and you miss the flop. If the person bets into you, you aren't going to win by raising. I would just call and see the turn, then muck if I missed. I see a lot of players play too aggressively against weak opponents. Just play straight forward and passive. It is ok to raise more hands in the back because they figure to be better than your opponents, but don't get tricky post flop -- they never fold.

4. Starting hands are a big topic... I won't get into too much detail here. Generally speaking, the worse your opponents play, the more hands you can play against them preflop since they are giving you such a big upside postflop. Offsuit hands like AT, KT, QT, JT may suck in a regular game and just get you in trouble, but against bad players you can profit with them. The idea you should have when against a lot of bad opponents is to see a lot of flops and flop something big, otherwise muck. Now I'm not saying play hands like j4s and junk that bad, just things like a suited Ace, 86s, any pocket pair, etc.

You need to also know how to play these hands against raises. If someone raises before you and you get a few callers, it is the same as if it were only one bet. You wouldn't call someone's raise immediately to your right with a hand like 86s, but if there were 4 callers between you, you should.

5. You need to also have a decent understanding of post flop odds. Let's say you have 54s and called a raise preflop, along with 6 other players -- a typical hand in these types of games. The flop comes back A - T - 4. If it only costs you a small bet to see the turn, you easily have the odds. Also, remember that the more people pay off hands, the more you can draw against them.

The flip side is that you can't pay off their good hands, or it makes it correct for them to draw against you. Let me give you an example where I screwed up yesterday against a really bad player. I limped in the back with A6s after one loose player did, one more came in behind me. The flop came back A - T - 3. I bet after everyone checked and the bad player behind me called. The turn was a King. I bet again and he now raised me. There was no reason for me to call now since I knew for a fact that he had at minimum caught two pair -- maybe even the nut straight with QJ. But, I called him down and lost to KT. It turned out I had a few outs left for a bigger two pair, but it wasn't worth it.

If I were to do this each time they got lucky on me, I would never win. I think one of the problems most tight players have is getting married to their hands. Since they play so few cards, they feel entitled to win with the ones they do, so it makes it very hard to fold in spite of a raise on a the turn.

6. Bankrolls. More importantly than anything else, you need to make sure you have enough money in your pocket. You will have big swings in loose games. You'll be up a rack, down a rack, up two racks, etc. That is perfectly normal. Don't get frustrated or nervous because of these swings.

7. Last point... It is easy to get frustrated and lose hope when you keep losing to really bad players. It is easy to think that there is no rhyme or reason to poker since you're best is coming up short. You are reading books, doing what they say, yet you still lose to some jack ass calling you down with a gutshot to the river. The important thing to keep in mind is that you don't know everything there is to know about poker (not that I do either).

Every game can be beat. Each kind of player has a game that is hard for them, like loose no foldem holdem games, but you can overcome that if you flesh out your knowledge. There are different ways to play and each style works best in different game types. Plays that I make in tough games aren't ones that I'll make in loose games with lots of bad players. Hand values change, positional advantage changes, and your level of aggressiveness changes. Don't give up yet! If you work at it, you should be able to consistently beat them.

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