2011 WSOP Event 6 Recap

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WSOPEvent 6 of this year’s World Series of Poker, $1,500 Limit Hold’em, is our first LHE event this year. Limit events rarely bring out large fields, but with it still being a Hold’em tournament, 675 players registered to play.

A very interesting story developed in what would have otherwise been an event that flew under the radar. On the final day of play, defending champion Matt Matros was still in the field when the final 15 players came back. If winning a WSOP bracelet is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for most people, what would winning the same one twice in a row be?

Sadly, though, he was not able to successfully do so. Exiting in 11th place, Matros, a published poker author, went to the cage, picked up his $12k, and went to find another game to play. There’s always next year, right?

With a prize pool set at just above $900,000, almost $3,000 went to anyone who finished among the final 63. With it being a limit event, many of those who turned a profit are unknown to the mainstream poker media. However, many popular pros still represented, including Dutch Boyd, JJ Liu, and a man with a shot at winning his 3rd WSOP bracelet, Scott Clements.

None of them had enough, however, to overtake eventual champion Harrison Wilder. Taking home the bracelet and $205,065, Wilder made sure not to be one of those unknown names any longer. With many limit events still on the schedule this year, I would not be surprised to be writing about him again over the next couple months.

Six handed limit hold’em tips

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Loose aggressive players can be difficult to combat in any form of poker and these types of players present some very difficult obstacles for novice and even intermediate players to combat. If you are using PokerTracker then you will find these players with very high VPIP’s and PFR percentages relative to the game and the number of players. Let us look at how a LAG may play a certain hand over a solid regular. It has been folded around to the solid regular who opens with K-J and he gets three bet by the LAG who has 10-9s.

The flop comes 5-5-2 and the original raiser tries to wrestle the initiative by donk betting the flop. But the LAG places maximum pressure on his opponent by raising in situations where most other players would fold. This is high variance play and does not suit many people but if there is one thing that true LAG’s are not afraid of and it is greater swings. But if you do encounter these types of players then they can present you with some very formidable problems.

There are numerous types of LAG’s and a LAG could be highly skilled or someone who is a temporary LAG and simply blowing some money off. If someone who is playing $1-$2 limit with $50 and is looking to blow their money off then they may do so and take you with them. If you are multi-tabling then you really need to be careful with LAG’s because they have a tendency to affect your mental equilibrium and when that happens on several tables at once then you may have something of a problem.

At the end of the day then if you do not feel comfortable playing poker in a certain way then this is your subconscious mind telling you that you are either out of your depth or you do not have the experience level of several of your opponents. Far too many players stay in games when they are either being run over or outplayed. This could be because of variance or because you are simply out gunned by your opponent or opponents. The lesson here is clear in that you should never be afraid to leave a game if you do not feel comfortable.

Most players only have accounts at one site and many stay in bad games simply because there are no other games running. However if you have accounts at numerous sites or different networks then you have options to go and play in other games. If you feel uncomfortable in any game of poker then you have that feeling for a reason. If your game feels wrong then get out and do so quickly. Do not think that you should be fighting “fire with fire” or anything like that if doing so drags you away from the style of poker that you want to play.

Limit Holdem versus No Limit Holdem

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It has been and probably will be one of the most discussed topics in the poker world for some time to come. Usually when we think about beginning poker players we tend to think about limit holdem. That doesn’t mean that limit requires any less skill, actually reading your opponents and having good feel for the game are even more important in limit, it just means that it requires a twist on how to execute those skills successfully along with a lot of playing experience. When I first began playing poker years ago I started out playing limit. The reasoning was simple. After reading all of the books I could get my hands on and playing on simulators I figured it was the safest way not to lose a whole lot of money off the top while being able to learn the game. I also noted that the buy-ins for no limit cash games were around $200 – $300 for the low stakes $2/$1 games. Clearly I was nowhere near ready to play in even the smallest no limit games at that time.

Limit gives you an opportunity to slow the game down due to the capped betting. It also allows you to learn how to play solid fundamental poker while not being under the pressure of losing your entire buy-in at the drop of a card. That in-and-of-itself provides many new poker players with a comfort level that is just not there for the novice Texas Holdem poker player. Limit in many ways can appear as if it is a drawing game and you will typically see many players in the pot whereas a No Limit game will usually see a pre-flop raise to push out players with mediocre hands. Also, limit is a game that always gives you odds to whatever draw you may have simply because there is so much money in the pot.

Strategically Limit Holdem is much more competitive at the higher stakes where skill level comes more into play. For instance: At a $2/$4 table with a full ring and 5 players in the pot there is almost no way that a player with the nut flush draw is going to fold when he is getting more than 5 to 1 on his draw. Now consider that a raise was made post flop. It would be a very poor choice not to put $4 dollars into the pot for a shot at $20 and possibly more by the River.

On the down side of the limit game is the fact that it is extremely difficult if not impossible to protect your premium hands. If you don’t flop or turn a set and someone is constantly raising with no flush or raise on the board in a 4 or 5 way pot it is probably time to muck that premium hand. This is where many players don’t seem to get it. You cannot hold on to bad hands all the way to the River in any form of poker and expect to make a profit over the long term. You have to be capable of folding as all good player do when they have confirmed they are beat.

As with time and a little talent you find that you will develop a feel for the game and instinctively you should know when you are beat. On the other hand you should also know when you are ahead and be capable of utilizing those same instincts to extract maximum value in the hands you are involved in.

No Limit Holdem is still the king of all forms of poker despite the current Omaha craze that is taking the world by storm. However, no limit also requires even more skill and intuition to play well and be profitable over the long run. Solid fundamental play is a given in a good no limit player. What seperates the no limit players is the moves that can be made and the betting. You can use your chips to your advantage to move players off of hands and out of pots. You cannot do that playing limit holdem. If you are in a poker tournament you always have the threat of the blinds and being busted out of the tournament hanging in the balance as you make your decisions from hand to hand. More than any other form of poker chips means power in no limit holdem. Other players try to avoid the big stacks when playing no limit tournaments. As far as the poker strategy goes you have access to an entire arsenal of moves just as the limit players do. The difference is that there is no limit on what you can put in the pot. You can put your opponent(s) to the test at any point in time in a hand before, during or after the flop.

I am not suggesting that either form of poker is better than the other. Yes, I do believe no limit is the king of poker due to its popularity but all forms are valid and require study, experience and a lot of practice. There are lessons to be learned in both limit and no limit. So don’t be scared to sit down at the poker table with a few friends and give it a shot. You might be surprised.

Curtis Mayfield III