No-Limit Hold'em Hand by Hand: Learn to Beat the Ultimate Poker Game

Overview

Dear No-Limit Hold'em Player,

If you are already playing no-limit hold'em and want to improve fast, you have found the right book. No-limit hold'em is poker's hottest game, but to play it well isn't easy. If you play in cash no-limit hold'em games that have buy-ins of anywhere from $60 to $2,000, this book can save you confusion and frustration, and make you money.

I have illustrated key no-limit hold'em concepts using challenging poker ...

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Overview

Dear No-Limit Hold'em Player,

If you are already playing no-limit hold'em and want to improve fast, you have found the right book. No-limit hold'em is poker's hottest game, but to play it well isn't easy. If you play in cash no-limit hold'em games that have buy-ins of anywhere from $60 to $2,000, this book can save you confusion and frustration, and make you money.

I have illustrated key no-limit hold'em concepts using challenging poker problems that cover common situations you will encounter in the typical cash no-limit hold'em game:

• Playing small stacks
• When and how playing a big stack changes the game
• Proper bet sizing
• The types of no-limit games you should look for
• Starting hand selection
• Play on the flop, turn, and river

I'll show you how to maximize your profit and avoid mistakes that even experienced players make. You can open the book at any problem and improve your game. Also, you get a FREE DVD that brings these fun poker exercises to life. A poker lesson from an expert will always be only a couple of minutes away.

So if you want to feel like a king in poker's royal game, buy this book and join the fun.

See you at the tables.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780818407246
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 8.96 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Read an Excerpt

No-Limit Hold'em Hand by Hand

Learn to Beat the Ultimate Poker Game
By NEIL D. MYERS

LYLE STUART BOOKS

Copyright © 2007 Neil D. Myers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8184-0724-6


Chapter One

Cash Games vs. Tournaments: Key Differences

This book is about the best way to play in fixed buy-in, no-limit Hold'em cash games, where the buy-ins are between $50 and $1,000. All the problems assume you are playing in a cash game, sometimes called a ring game, and that there is a full table of ten players, unless the problem states otherwise.

Later in this series I will be devoting a whole book to tournament play. Tournament play and cash play have vastly different strategies. It is true that in some of the longer, slower tournaments, like the big buy-in events on the World Poker Tour and at the World Series of Poker, no-limit Hold'em tournaments and no-limit Hold'em cash games share many of the same playing characteristics, especially in the early rounds, but that is where the similarities begin and end.

In tournaments the constantly rising Blinds (and later in the tournament usually Antes) mean that that you frequently have to change pace, alternatively switching between aggressive and cautious play. This creates very different playing considerations from those of a cash game when the Blinds remain constant.

Here are some more differences between tournaments and cash games to consider. Some are obvious, some are not.

In tournaments, you have a known downside risk. Apart from re-buy tournaments, most tournaments have a fixed buy-in. This means that you know from the outset what your downside risk is (at least for that tournament) and therefore that you have an adequate bankroll for that session. Cash no-limit Hold'em by contrast is a dangerous game. Even if you buy in for the minimum, whatever you have on the table can disappear in a single hand. Last night one of my readers (and a student), a good player, lamented how he lost his whole stack: He raised with AQs on the Button and the only caller was the Big Blind. The Flop was A, Q, 7. The Big Blind checked and with top two pair my friend made a pot-sized bet. The Big Blind, who had been playing loose and aggressive poker all evening, re-raised all-in and my friend called with top two pair. Yes, you guessed it, the Big Blind had pocket sevens, flopped a set, and neither player improved on the Turn or River and so my student got stacked. Some pundits may argue that he could have gotten away from the hand but practically speaking, getting stacked like this in no-limit Hold'em is an occurrence that you will experience frequently. My friend lost $600 on one hand. Not a fortune but unpleasant nonetheless. If the same thing had happened in a tournament it would have only cost him the buy-in.

Position takes on greater importance in tournaments. Position is of course important in cash games, but the peculiar nature of tournaments often means that many pots can be won purely by making positional plays. In fact, in a tournament position is often more important than cards. In the next book in the series, which is devoted to tournament no-limit Hold'em, I'll explore this aspect of the game more fully. Right now I just want to tell you that moves made by players in tournaments based solely on positional advantage will simply not work as well when used in a cash game.

Stack size means less in cash games. Stack size is extremely important in tournament play because a player with a big stack can threaten the tournament life of those with small stacks. Come up against the big stack and your tournament may be over fast. No real equivalent exists in cash games. That is not to say that a small stack and a large stack are played the same way in cash games. They are in fact played quite differently. Nor do I mean that having a large stack is not an advantage in cash games, because when you have one plays are available to you that are not available to small stacks. Despite this a player with a big stack in a cash game cannot really use his stack size to bully players in the same way as he can in a tournament. The reasons for this will become clearer as you read this book because I'll describe specific situations, but for now know that you can do very well with a small stack in a cash no-limit Hold'em game against big stacks, if you know what the limitation of small stacks (and indeed big stacks) are and play appropriately.

Your earning power must be calculated differently. Successful tournament players can do very well and earn a high return for money invested. However the ebbs and flows of tournament play are quite different from cash games. A successful cash game player will tend on average to have a winning session about forty to fifty percent of the time. Also, he will usually win more on his winning sessions than he will lose on his losing sessions. Of course dividing poker into "sessions" is artificial but overall winning players will see their bankrolls rise over time even though there may be many valleys and troughs in the upward trend. By contrast even very good tournament players may only cash out infrequently. A successful tournament player playing in multi-table tournaments may have a positive expectation on his play, be in profit, and may still be cashing out less than ten percent of the time. The vast majority of the time the tournament player will simply lose his buy-in. The correct construction of an adequate bankroll for a tournament and a cash player are therefore quite different.

You can get a better read on your opponents in cash games. In a cash game session lasting a few hours, you have plenty of time to observe your opponents and how they play. Observation is important in both cash and tournament poker, but in tournament poker you have far less time to draw a bead on your competition. This is because players are constantly busting out or, as the tournament progresses, you and your opponents are being assigned new seats at different tables and the observation process has to begin from scratch. In cash games, especially if you play against the same people regularly, you can develop a detailed understanding of each person's approach to the game. You can also pick up on any habitual tells they might exhibit. These pieces of information can considerably contribute to your edge in a cash game.

Starting hand selections are different. In tournaments you must frequently modify your starting hand requirements depending on the speed of the tournament, your stack size, and what stage the tournament has reached. Of course, in both cash and tournaments, positional considerations govern starting hand selection, but the fluidity of these considerations is much greater in tournaments than cash games.

Bluffing is a bigger weapon in tournament play. Bluffing has its place in both tournaments and cash games. In cash games, though, there is a lot less bluffing than some players would have you believe. When you play in the smaller cash games, bluffing loses a lot of its value because your opponents are often too unsophisticated to understand what your bluffs mean. This is also the case in the early stages of many tournaments, when many very weak players are still around. These players are hardly ever worth bluffing. However, as the worst players get flushed out, bluffing in tournaments is a key weapon and one that you will almost certainly have to use at some point if you are to stand a chance of finishing in the money. Players who move from tournament play to cash games often bluff too frequently and are surprised when they run into players showing down solid cards at cash tables.

You don't have to play short-handed cash games. If you play in a tournament and you want to finish in the money, you almost always have to play some part of the tournament short-handed. If you get to the final table, and this is often the only place where there is big money, you had better make sure that you can play short-handed poker well. Though many poker tournaments are "chopped" with players at the final table making deals, you often have to play a number of key hands short-handed and you had better know how to do so. In a cash game, by contrast, if the game becomes short-handed, you always have the option to leave, find another game, or take a break and come back if more players fill empty seats. If you don't like or don't play shorthanded poker well you can opt not to and it won't affect your profitability.

The element of luck is greater in tournaments. In my opinion this is the biggest downside of tournaments and the biggest benefit of playing cash games. Poker is a game of skill with a considerable element of short-term luck. An ideal poker format balances the elements of luck and skill so that the skillful players win over time but the less skilled and lucky can still occasionally have their day. It ensures that weaker players keep playing and don't just get run over, and that skilled play has its just reward. In fixed buy-in, small stakes no-limit Hold'em played for cash, the skilled player who understands the game, is sufficiently bankrolled, and is disciplined in his play can do very well. This is especially true today as most players still do not play well and there is a constant stream of new and poorly skilled players entering the game. In tournaments, by contrast, due to their structure there is a much greater element of luck. This becomes even greater as the number of players in a tournament increases. The most skilled players still have an edge, but this edge may not practically be realized until they have played scores or even hundreds of tournaments. Thus even the most highly skilled tournament players can have long runs where they do not cash out or only win small prizes. However a skilled cash game player can start out winning almost immediately, and unless they are very unlucky will not have very long runs when they are losing money. For me this is the most attractive aspect of the cash game. This does not mean that you will not experience consecutive losing sessions, getting sucked out on, having poor runs of cards, and getting stacked maybe several times in a session. If you play long enough all of these things will happen to you, but if you play well you will also experience some nice wins along the way where you double, triple, and even quadruple (or more) your stack in a single session.

So there you have it. There are probably some other differences about the two styles of game, but I believe I have covered the major ones. If you think of others that you feel are important, e-mail me at my website www.holdempokernow.com and I'll send you a reply and maybe include them in the next edition. By the way, I believe that tournaments have their place (or I would not be writing a book about how to play them) but I also believe that it behooves players to understand that the two beasts differ and must therefore be fed and nurtured differently.

Chapter Two

Limit Hold'em vs. No-Limit Hold'em: Thirteen Key Differences

When I was playing poker mainly to supplement my income, there were very few no-limit cash games available. Those that existed were usually played for very high stakes that only the richest players could afford. Pot-limit, though the preferred poker style in Europe, was also rarely played in the USA. Limit Hold'em was really the only form of Hold'em in town and was the game of choice for amateurs and professional players alike. The very steady and (relatively) predictable win rates and low fluctuations of the fixed limit game made it an ideal choice for the aspiring professional player. However, due to televised poker and Internet poker sites the popularity of no-limit Hold'em has skyrocketed. If you are making the transition from limit Hold'em to no-limit Hold'em you should read the following points of difference. Failure to understand the very real differences between the games can lead to discomfort at best and disaster at worst.

Do not underestimate the difficulties of transition. I was in Las Vegas not long ago chatting with one of the most knowledgeable and erudite poker authors I know. Those who know him recognize him as a player who has a very complete knowledge of limit Hold'em. In fact he made a decent income from playing middle-limit to high-limit Hold'em in Las Vegas for a number of years. With the growth of no-limit Hold'em he recognized that a lot of the weak money had moved to the no-limit game and so he decided to play no-limit Hold'em. Now bear in mind that he is a very strong and competent player who has a good understanding of poker theory. He found the no-limit game uncomfortable to say the least. In a few weeks he had lost more than he had in many months playing limit, and although these losses were not outside the realm of statistical possibility for a winning no-limit Hold'em player, he found that they were affecting his play. He, of course, got stacked, sometimes more than once in a session. In his regular limit games he always ensured he had a larger than average stack that he never drained, so he found losing his initial buy-in in no-limit Hold'em disconcerting. He also found that many of the more sophisticated plays he used at limit play were simply ineffective or out of place in no-limit Hold'em. Furthermore, he found the greater psychological element of the no-limit game challenging. After a few months of experimentation with no-limit Hold'em he returned to the limit game where he continues to do very well.

So what can we learn from this? Well, one conclusion that should not be drawn is that no-limit Hold'em is a more difficult game than limit Hold'em. Limit Hold'em involves some immensely complex decisions, which would often be made a lot easier if one could bet an unlimited amount in any round. Believe me, limit is complex and has many subtleties and many opportunities for expert play. Players who move from low-limit no-limit Hold'em to middle-range limit Hold'em often feel outclassed and are mostly outplayed. No, I believe that the conclusion we should draw is that the two forms of the game involve different temperaments and this fact should not be taken lightly. Even a knowledgeable player may underestimate this factor. You have to be comfortable in your chosen arena and this is not just a factor of knowledge. The game has to feel right to you if you are to succeed in it. Both forms of the game demand aggression and patience but how these two are applied differ significantly. Also, because my poker expert friend is intelligent and knows himself, he wisely chose to return to the form of Hold'em he not only excelled at but felt emotionally comfortable and competent in. I believe this was a good decision on his part. He has nothing to prove and cleverly plays a form of the game he knows he can usually dominate. Remember, winning and not ego is the name of the game for the professional player.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from No-Limit Hold'em Hand by Hand by NEIL D. MYERS Copyright © 2007 by Neil D. Myers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Preface: The Rise of Modern No-Limit Hold'em....................ix
Acknowledgments....................xi
Introduction: How to Join the Ranks of Winning No-Limit Hold'em Players....................xiii
How to Use and Get the Most from This Book....................xix
Chapter One: Cash Games vs. Tournaments....................1
Chapter Two: Limit Hold'em vs. No-Limit Hold'em....................7
Chapter Three: New No-Limit vs. Old No-Limit....................17
Chapter Four: A Tale of Two Games....................23
Chapter Five: Starting Hands and Playing Styles in No-Limit Hold'em....................29
The Spectrum of Playing Styles....................31
Specific Starting Hand Recommendations....................34
AA....................35
KK....................36
QQ, JJ....................38
TT-99....................38
88-22....................39
AKs, AK....................40
AQs, AQ....................40
Ajs-A9s, KQs....................41
Other Suited Connectors....................41
Non-Suited Connectors: KQ, KT, QJ, JT, QT, T9....................42
Suited Cards....................42
Gapped Cards....................42
Special Considerations for Play on the Button....................43
Starting Hands for Small Stack Play....................44
Chapter Six: The Problems....................47
Problem One: Cowboys....................47
Problem Two: Cowboys, Part Two....................49
Problem Three: Tight Is Right....................51
Problem Four: Small Pairs, Early Position....................53
Problem Five: Premium PairsPre-Flop....................55
Problem Six: Getting Re-Raised....................57
Problem Seven: It Ain't Always So Easy!....................59
Problem Eight: Nut Sellers, Part One....................62
Problem Nine: Nut Sellers, Part Two....................64
Problem Ten: Big Hands, Big Pots....................67
Problem Eleven: Small Blind Sorrows....................72
Problem Twelve: Small Blind Joy....................74
Problem Thirteen: But They're Suited!....................76
Problem Fourteen: They're Suited, They Really Are!....................77
Problem Fifteen: Small Pairs....................80
Problem Sixteen: Small Pairs to Sets....................82
Problem Seventeen: Sets on the Flop....................84
Problem Eighteen: Small Pairs Can Be Hard....................87
Problem Nineteen: Keep Your Draws On....................90
Problem Twenty: New Draws for a New Day?....................93
Problem Twenty-one: Overpair Aggression....................96
Problem Twenty-two: You Have to be Watchful....................98
Problem Twenty-three: Fighting Fire....................100
Problem Twenty-four: Calling for Value....................103
Problem Twenty-five: Best Hand, Poor Position....................105
Problem Twenty-six: Slowplaying Has Its Place....................108
Problem Twenty-seven: To Slowplay or Not?....................111
Problem Twenty-eight: Big Hands, Loose Players....................115
Problem Twenty-nine: Top Pair, No Good....................117
Problem Thirty: To Bet or Not to Bet?....................119
Chapter Seven: Conclusion and Your Quiz Scores....................123
Glossary....................125
Index....................157
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