Playing Short-Handed Holdem

Many players who are good at hold'em find some difficulty when playing short-handed. They discover that the tight but aggressive style does not help them to succeed their play. In addition, the "live players" who play as many as hands and go beyond with their hands suddenly seem to be much tougher rivals. Even though they play the same, these live players take down all the money.

Here in this section we will see that short-handed play is completely different from the other ring game play. This is partially because you are forced to play many more hands than you do at a full table. You won't have many more players to act behind you and the flop doesn't hit anyone.

Short-handed holdem play can also be a lot of fun. At a full texas holdem table, especially if the holdem game is aggressive you will have to do a great deal of watching and waiting. The case is different when playing in short-handed. But for those of you who think that the correct holdem strategy is to "fire chips with both hands" you will also be surprised. To become a short-handed player, lot of holdem skills are required and we will discuss in this section how it is done.

What You Must Realize

To play short-handed hold'em successfully, you need to realize that if you are not careful then any player can take the advantage of always betting against you. So you should sure that you do not use a strategy that would be beatable by a rival betting at every opportunity.

Now it might sound unlikely that you can lose against such a rival. We all know people who play that way get "killed" in a full game. But you have to realize that it is not only because of you alone. What frustrates such kind of aggressive rivals is the combination of all the players who keep such a strategy from succeeding. You do contribute to their failing, but only to the little extent.

This is true in a heads-up game. Suppose you and another player were playing and you don't adjust after noticing how he is playing. You play your almost tight game and he has a strategy of always betting. He must beat you.

Let's be more precise. Suppose he is on the button with the small blind, you have the big blind and it is a $100-$200 game. That is, there is $50 on the button and you have $100 on the big blind. So to raise he has to put another $150 in the pot and you don't call he's putting on $150 to win $150.

That means if you call less than half the time he will show an automatic profit. Even if you call more than 50 percent of the time he will almost certainly profit in these situations as he will not only often steal your blind but will also sometimes win when you call as well. However, he is entitled to a profit because he has a position on you and because you have a big blind than he does. The main point is to keep his profits to a minimum. This means that when the player on the button raises more you should call (or re-raise) more.

For instance you only call with the best 33 percent of the hands that you are against. Then he can raise every time and if called, be done with it - that is, not bet the flop - unless he flops a good hand. When this is the case, then he is going to win $150 two out of three times and in addition he can win more sometimes. He's going to lose the $150 less than one out of three times.

To prevent this strategy from working you need to develop an appropriate counter strategy and there are two important things you can do:

1. Call quite a bit - more than one out of three times.

2. Re-raise frequently.

(Remember we are talking about the case where the game is heads-up and you have the big blind while he has a small blind on the button.)

The second reason of re-raising frequently is very important. You can't allow your rival to think "When I win, I win $150 and when I lose $150 and I'm going to win $150 two out of three times." He's got to think that when he loses it will cost him $250, plus future bets.

Notice that we have developed the beginnings of a strategy that should slow him down. Now you finally get into the play that live one heads-up he won't have the best of you anymore.

continue here: The Hands To Call With