Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

July 09, 2007

Re-Breaking The $1k Barrier And Low Limit Cash Game Tips

If you ever want to see how much you've improved as a poker player, drop your bankroll to what it was when you started and see how long it takes you to get back to where you currently are compared to how long it took the first time. When the UIGEA passed, I immediately withdrew almost all of my poker funds to see how it was going to pan out. This helped me avoid getting any money stuck anywhere. It also killed my bankroll.

Around the beginning of this year, I started playing with the $60 or so that I had left on Absolute Poker and began to build the bankroll back up. I broke the $1k barrier this weekend by taking a couple of shots at $100NL since all of the fish are out in force on the weekends. My hands held up, and I was able to build my bankroll past $1k in about 6 months, as opposed to the almost two years it took to build it the first time around.

Granted, I was a complete moron for the first six months of those two years. I don't think I even picked up a book during that time; I just kept playing what I thought was correct poker. I have a minor in math, so I was probably less fishy than most, but my play was still awful. This time around it was a lot different. It went faster, but it was also harder.

I think I felt a little what Chris Ferguson must feel like during his $10k bankroll experiment. It's really hard to drop back down to the very micro limits and take it seriously when you have been used to playing higher limits. Playing $.05/$.10 NL was excrutiating, as was playing in the $1 45-player SNGs. I can only imagine how it must feel to go from the biggest limits back down to that level. I applaud Chris for his ability to focus and carry on with his experiment. It must be pretty brutal at times. You can read about his experiment here.

One thing I noticed this time around is that the players are not as horrible as they used to be. I think the UIGEA has something to do with that, but I also think it's pretty obvious that I haven't been the only one reading poker books. Almost everyone will make continuation bets now, and most people are able to make bet sizes to price out draws. I've had to change my game up some, and all of these moves are familiar to those of you who play higher limits. But maybe some blogger somewhere will get a little help from the following tips. Here are some of the ways I've opened up my game recently that have been very successful at $100NL, $50NL, and below.


Raising The Continuation Bet

As I stated above, a lot of people will now fire a continuation bet at the flop if they have raised pre-flop. I've started paying very close attention to who these people are, and I will intermittently reraise these continuation bets on non-scary boards with position on the player. Many of these players have been taught through their various poker books to make a continuation bet even if they miss the flop if they were the initial raiser. However, most of these players do not know how to handle the situation if you play back at them, and most will fold when they've missed. Stealing continuation bets can help you chip up your stack in between big hands.


This is kind of a variation on the above play, in that instead of raising on the flop, you simply call (float) to see what your opponent will do on the turn. This play generally works best, I think, when there is only one broadway card on the board, as your opponent is less likely to have hit it. If your opponent was making his standard continuation bet after missing the flop, he will most likely check on the turn when his hand does not improve. This leaves the door open for you to come in and take the pot out from under him. A lot of players can get to the continuation bet aspect of the hand, but are then completely lost when they don't make a very strong hand. They can't bring themselves to fire the second bullet with a marginal hand, and you can get a lot of middle pairs to fold to a bet here when they are scared of the overcard on the board.

Raising On The Come

I've been doing this for a while, but I think it's a pretty important move at the lower limits. If I'm in position against a player that I perceive as weak, I will often raise a continuation bet with drawing hands. If I'm reraised, I will have a decision to make, but more often than not at the level I'm playing ($100NL and below), the original raiser will call and then check on the turn if they do not improve (which is more often than not). This allows me to take the river card for free if I don't hit my draw on the turn. This also disguises your draw when it does hit on the turn, allowing you to get more money from your opponent on the river.

Playing Drawing Boards With Air

This play is definitely very situation-dependent, and you should only make it when you know that your opponent is capable of folding. I will also only make this move if I feel that I have a looser image at the table. When these conditions are met, I will occasionally play draw-heavy boards when I am heads up and have position on my opponent even when I do not have the cards to make the draw. When I do this, I consider my outs to be the cards that improve my actual hand to be better than what I think my opponent has as well as the cards that complete the draws. If you know that your opponent is capable of folding, you can bet/raise him out of hands where the draws complete on the board. This move is by nature a very loose-aggressive play, and thus very volatile. It can lead to some pretty big downswings when it doesn't work, but it can also help you chip up nicely. I use it very sparingly. One place I like to use it is when I plan on switching gears and can show the bluff to induce action later on.


These plays are all very common at higher limits and have probably been described a lot better elsewhere, but hopefully some of the other lower limit bloggers who visit mine occasionally will find a nugget or two of useful information. These aspects of the game continue to be very profitable for me at $100NL and below. Just be aware that there are players that will pick up on these plays even at these levels, so you need to pick your victims with care. As has been said in every poker blog/book ever written about cash games, table selection is extremely important. Find the weaker players, and show them how the game is played.

Until next post, I'll see you on the felt.


  • Oh so true. I have seen a lot of the same moves. The c-bets are the most notorious of all of them. I tend to raise on the flop with bottom, middle pair, or two large overs if I feel that they missed. Sometimes they float and I get aggressive on the turn depending on the card, or I shut down if things go south. There are plenty of nuggets here that I can use in my own game. Keeping on grinding!

    By Anonymous neil, at 7/10/2007 5:55 AM  

  • vg post Matt.

    personally, i prefer floating over raising c-bets. a lotta clowns are not gonna fold overcards (e.g. AK, AQ, etc) to a reraise on the flop. i don't like building a big pot with a marginal hand like a middle pair and no draw. if the turn looks safe, i'll try to take it down right there.

    By Blogger smokkee, at 7/10/2007 1:11 PM  

  • to answer your question, the tourney i final tabled yesterday (32k Guarantee) runs daily at 3pm EST/$163 buy-in. i usually satellite in thru their $26 turbo sat.

    By Blogger smokkee, at 7/12/2007 2:14 PM  

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