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Low-Limit Hold'em Strategy: Playing Big and Medium Pairs Preflop

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Big Pairs 
Big pairs are A-A, K-K, Q-Q, and J-J. It should be obvious to you that there is a significant chance that you will dominate a lot of different hands when you hold aces, kings, queens, or jacks. For instance A-A dominates everything. K-K dominates everything other than A-A. Q-Q dominates everything other and A-A, K-K, and A-K. And, J-J dominates everything other than A-A, K-K, Q-Q, A-K, A-Q, and K-Q.

According to the low-limit poker strategy, what should you do? Raise. In fact, you should probably re-raise with all four and cap the betting (put in the 3rd raise) with A-A and K-K. Pre-flop, there is every reason to believe you have the best hand. Your pair of kings will occasionally run into aces, but only rarely.

Principle: With big pairs (A~A, K-K, Q-Q, and J-J) you should raise pre-flop. Cap the betting with A-A and K-K.

How to Multi-Table

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The biggest advantage of online poker is the ability to play more than one table at a time. When I first played poker, my friend Dave "Raptor" Benefield introduced me to the concept of playing more than one table at a time, and I gave it a try. At the time, the sites would only let you play four tables at a time, which I quickly mastered. If you win $30 per hour per table, you will win $120 per hour if you play four at a time, assuming playing more tables does not discount your win rate. This is a pretty easy way to get a hefty raise. Eventually the online sites allowed us to play 16 tables at a time, which gave us even a bigger raise. Your win rate per table will start to drop off at this point. Suppose you normally have a 10-percent ROI in sitngos while playing four tables but only a 5-percent ROI when playing 16 tables. If you play $10 games, you will make $4 per hour 4-tabling, assuming you play one set of games per hour, and $8 per hour while 16-tabling. Despite winning half as much per table, 16-tabling clearly makes more money.

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Bankroll For Poker Tournaments

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David Sklansky has done some groundbreaking tournament bankroll analysis in his book, Poker, Gaming & Life. This is some of what he discovered. I warn you ahead of time, it's a bit mind-blowing.

If you are a highly skilled tournament player who plays well enough to expect to win twice your buy-in amount per tournament over the long-run, this is what you can expect if you play in typically payout-structured $1000 buy-in tournaments:

  • You need a $55,000 bankroll just to have a 95% chance of never going broke.
  • You have a 5% chance of never breaking even until after your 175th tournament.

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Bankroll Management for Cash Games

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There are some generally accepted rules on bankroll management for cash games. Typically 30 buy-ins for the limit you're playing is a good enough cushion to absorb any negative variance. Really though, if you haven't beaten a particular stake level ever before, and you drop around 15 buy-ins, you should be moving down until you can win.

Running bad is going to happen to everyone multiple times throughout their poker careers. However, let's have a moment of honesty. If you knew what you were doing, and were skilled enough, you could absorb most negative variance by making the best play in many other situations. This holds especially true the lower the stakes you are playing. The higher the stakes you're playing, the less this will hold true because the average potential skill gap between you and your opponent will be less. At micro and small stakes though, the average potential skill gap can be gigantic.

Being 3-bet by a short stack

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There are a lot more short stackers in today's games, and ones that are slightly more competent then they were in the past. We'll define a short stack as anyone with a stack between 15–35 BBs. On most online poker sites the minimum buy-in is 20–30 BBs, so most short stackers will be around this range. One of the most important things when facing a short stacker is knowing what kind of short stacker they are, because your calling ranges are going to vary depending on this.

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