I often see players my age crafting elaborate lines of action for the sake of balance. I would argue that balancing your perceived range of hands at $1-$2 NLHE is about as awful as it gets. The most crucial aspect of being a successful live cash-game player is betting hands for value. Sounds reasonable right?
You’d be surprised just how many low-limit players bluff way too often or miss extra bets. The primary way we make money in small games, such as $1-$2 and $1-$3 no-limit hold’em, is by betting our strong hands and getting weaker players to call with weaker hands.
I often see players my age crafting elaborate lines of action for the sake of balance. I would argue that balancing your perceived range of hands at $1-$2 NLHE is about as awful as it gets.
The reason online players balance the percentage of bluffs to strong hands in their ranges is so they won’t be exploitable when playing against good regulars. You probably won’t play the same players much if you play $1-$2 in large poker rooms. So why not just wait for a strong hand and bet it all the way against players who are going to call anyway?
Ego. Young guns have ego. What a shame. Playing tight is “lame,” I get it, but I do what it takes to make money and the vast majority of the time it’s the correct way to play in the aforementioned games.
I’d like to highlight one line of action that will help all live low-limit cash-game players. It’s called the bet/fold. Most players at these stakes are incapable of check-raise bluffing, therefore when you have moderately strong hands you should bet every street until you meet resistance. Say you have K-Q on a K-7-2 rainbow board. Bet the flop for value.
The turn is a 9. Bet again, but be willing to fold if you get raised because most of these players are incapable of check-raising the turn here with less than two pair.
Let’s say the river is an ace. Don’t get scared by the scare card! What hand is likely for him to hold containing an ace?
Exactly! Of course there will be times when you bet the river and he calls with A-7, but those occurrences are few and far between. It’s much more likely he’ll call and have a K-10 or K-J, which you beat.
Bet the river and enjoy the inflated pot when he calls and shows you K-10 offsuit. I know I always do.
— Mike Wolf is a professional poker player who spends his time on the road. Follow him on Twitter (@mikewolf7) or on surebetpoker.net.