Playing in Other Non Holdem Poker Games

Earlier we have covered what can be termed as two non-standard games - loose games and short-handed games. There are also other standard forms that we wish to address. This is done because if you play a fair amount of hold'em it is predictable that you will rarely find yourself in one of those games.

First let's define a standard game. Defining this more clearly, a standard game is one of standard structure (blind and the bet sizes) which is played fairly tight and includes perhaps two or three reasonably good players. This is not always the case. Sometimes the game can be wild and sometimes can be very tight. Furthermore, someone may voluntarily put up an extra large blind - known as a straddle - so that he can "gamble". The structure may be "spread limit," where bets can be any amount between (and including) two specified limits.

These non-standard games require strategy changes for your play to remain always the best. This doesn't mean that you should ignore everything we have covered so far. The material we have presented till now should be the base of winning play, no matter what game you may be playing. However, there are several additional situations that will be discussed in this section and in addition provide some guidelines to help you in some of these other "non-standard" situations.

Wild Games

We will take about the questions relating to wild games. Suppose you are in a game where seven people regularly come in for the maximum. What kind of starting hands will you play?
It has two sides. On one hand, because you have seven rivals you want to have a hand that does well against many players, that being the suited hands and the pairs. On the other hand because the pot is being "capped" you are getting very poor implied odds.

If seven people came in for a single bet, a hand something

is absolutely fine. We have two different reasons. First, it does well multi-way and second if you do make your hand someone is there to pay you off, that is your implied odds are much higher than 7-to-1.
If seven players come in for the maximum, you have less chance of the implied odds. This means that once you are in game where the pots are being constantly capped, you want to play hands similar to the hands that you would play if there was no betting from the flop onwards.

When you are playing in such type of games you would actually win if you only played aces, kings, queens or AK's. For example, at the $20-$40 limit game, it would about you about $3 per hand if you were not entering into the pot. To wait for such hands would cost you about $180 between plays but those hands should win it back.

It won't guarantee to win in any sessions when played in such a boring way. You will sit there for hours until you get one of these hands. But this strategy will "make it best of it" because more amount of money is going into the pot as compared to the initial blinds. When all that money is put incorrectly into the center of the table, if you wait for the aces, kings, queens, and AK's you must win. Whether you want to make around with a little as two tens or AJ's is up to you. They will win little but they add much to your fluctuations.

Which other hands, if any, you should play is highly questionable. The difficulty is that if they are playing that way, and if they are pressurizing you after the flop, how are you going to play a hand like two nines?

For example, four people are going mad for $100 each in a $20-$40 game and you know that they are doing it with almost anything. You should throw the two nines away even if appears that you have the very best hand.

You can show some little profit with them if you play them well. But the situation is, if there are only four people in and they are restricting it, and you are sitting there with two nines, you are not getting odds to hit a set, even including your implied odds. Many times there is going to be an over card. What are you going to do? Are you going to come in for another $100 on the flop, and then again turn on the river?

You don't have to throw this hand away. If you want to add great fluctuations to your game you can play with your two nines. But they don't play well in that kind of game and the same is also applicable for two tens. Therefore the good type of strategy here would be to play jacks or better pairs, aK's all the way down to perhaps AJ's and AK. If there were more players in, then you could play the two nines because you would now be getting correct odds for your set. However, fold them when you are only against four players.

This strategy may be tight because hand like

can do much good when your rivals are consistently restricting it on anything. But unless you are on the button you don't have to play them. You should realize that you have "nuts" if you don't play any of these hands. In game where they are all playing madly there is nothing wrong with playing tighter than what is theoretically correct. It might lessen your winning rate little but will lessen your fluctuations greatly. This kind of style will make it less likely that the live ones will immediately make a great win and outdraw on you.

We comprehend that playing so tightly can become frustrating when you lose several hands in a row and you have to wait many hours before the chips are pushed to you. But ultimately you will win the entire pot and be ahead. We also comprehend that this is a foolish way of playing poker. It is not very contending one. But still it is profitable. So again, stay away from the two nines kind of hands. You will look down and say, "This is the best hand. These fools are simply putting money in and I have the best hand." Yet, if you don't flop a set, stay to the end, somebody with worse hand beat you. The difficulty is that pots are so big that they are not making mistake chasing you all the way down. Their mistake is just putting in all that money before the flop with hands they shouldn't. You should not make that mistake.

Continue with: Playing in Extremely Tight Games