Strategic Considerations

Shorthanded vs. full table

A no limit hold’em game can be played with anywhere from two to ten players. The change from a two‐handed to a full‐ring game is gradual and continuous. With more players in the game, patience be‐ comes a huge virtue. Because more players are involved, more hands are dealt so the winning hands are higher in quality, and therefore you simply have to wait for a good hand to play. As the game gets more shorthanded the hand strengths go down so it’s less about wait‐ ing for a good hand and more about outplaying your opponents.

Obviously, in a ten‐handed game – all other things being equal – you will win one in ten hands, but in a heads‐up game you will win one in two. Thus you are competing over more pots. And because you are fighting over more pots many more decisions arise and people will be fighting for pots using more than just the value of their hands. Simi‐ larly, the more people at a table the more important it is to play straightforward poker because it will take a long time before your opponents adjust to your play, whereas the fewer people are at the table the more you need to mix it up and constantly adjust your play.

Live vs. online

Live poker and online poker are very different games. In live poker because everyone is only playing one table at a time, and because at that one table hands come much slower, individual hands have a greater importance. Online poker is more about developing a system of play that works and not worrying about individual hands as much. Live poker is about focusing on every hand and trying to win as many pots as possible. Seeing live players fighting for big pots with marginal hands demonstrates how rare big hands actually are. Also, live play shows that concentrating on playing every hand op‐ timally leads to obtaining maximum value. Online, people often get bogged down in their “system” and lose some value by not concen‐ trating on every hand and seeing the specific aspects.

For example, online a person playing five tables might see a situa‐ tion as “I have top pair with a mediocre kicker, that is not good enough to play for 100 big blinds (BB) so I fold.” That is playing on autopilot and it misses a lot of the specifics of a hand. In live play because there is only one table and limited distractions people are able to concentrate better, which leads them to hand read better and develop a better understanding of their opponents. This allows them to make more optimal plays, thinner value bets and thinner bluffs. It can also open up an online players’ eyes to the possibilities for mak‐ ing money by utilizing some of these plays online.

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