The art of choosing an online game

Game selection is a favorite topic of poker theorists and a necessary skill for those looking to improve their game. What does it mean to be able to choose a game? Simply put, it means being able to figure out which game will be most beneficial. In this article, we will explore this issue and explain which games should be avoided and which ones to strive to participate in.

In order to get a complete picture of the essence of the correct choice of the game, the first thing you need to understand is one thing: the more money is concentrated in the first round, the greater the role of luck. Conversely, the less money in the first round, the more important skill is. And although, this idea is very often misunderstood (or not understood at all) by experienced players, it is very important to understand the implications of this idea, since nothing else, the dynamics of the game most of all affects the result. Let's try to explain all this with the following example.

Let's say you play 3$ / 6$ Hold'em. This is a typical $ 3-6 blind game, except that everyone is required to post a $ 20 ante before the cards are dealt. Consequently, the pot includes one $ 1 blind, one $ 3 blind and $ $200, which are antes. How will this game play out? As the result will show, the skill of playing poker will have almost no effect on the outcome of the game. Since the pot is so big early in the game, the surest tactic is to play any hand before the flop. As we know, in Hold'em, “any two cards can win the pot,” and even a hand like 8-2 offsuit can accidentally snatch a huge pot. And since the pot will be at least $204, it would be foolish not to pay the unfortunate three bucks to see the flop with 8-2 offsuit.

This means that the skill of picking and playing the hand - and this is precisely the skill that separates the wheat from the chaff - is not needed by anyone. What about post-flop play? Again, it makes sense to reach the river with any, the most stupid combination, because the return if you get lucky will be huge. And excellent post-flop skill can go to the trash can. In general, game skills won't matter in a game like this. You will simply be dealt a hand and you will obediently finish playing to the river with almost any hand. And at the end of the day, you will win roughly 10% hands (assuming 10 played), just like everyone else.

Naturally, you are unlikely to have to play a game like this. But this tendency is observed in all games with large raises before the flop. If seeing the flop costs you, as well as your opponents, a heap of money, it means that the chances that everyone will continue with even the most ridiculous options are pretty high. In a game like this, your excellent post-flop play does not greatly affect the outcome, as for everyone else the correct tactic is to continue playing even with weak hands. You have concealed AKs and the flop is A-9-7. It will be correct for you to keep betting, but since the pot has grown so much as a result of pre-flop betting, it will be correct for the guy with 4-2 offsuit to keep betting. In the end, you will win this pot, because in the vast majority of cases, AK beats 4-2. But you will not be able to show your excellent playing skills right away, because your opponents can make a mistake only in one round (namely, in the first round), but not in subsequent rounds.

In short, this means that you need to look for games with small pre-flop raises.

Now let's consider another type of game, where the stakes in the initial round are incomparably less than in the following ones. For example, in no-limit games. In these games, a very small fraction of all the money comes from the initial round. This means that you can really punish those who continue to play with the second strongest hand, since the size of their winnings if they are lucky pales in comparison to the money they will have to spend to continue playing. For this reason, great players in these games enjoy a huge advantage over weak players. In no-limit games, for example, many bad players may never be lucky at all. In games with $ 2-5 blinds, where limping costs $ 2 and after the flop, turn, and river the bets rise by $ 5, a bad player can accidentally get lucky, but not as often as in a structured limit game like 2$ / 4$ or 3$ / 6$. This explains the fact that before the new explosion in the popularity of Hold'em happened a couple of years ago, the number of limit games in the card rooms exceeded the number of no-limit games by a ratio of 50: 1, and it was only possible to play the no-limit game with very low limits.

What does this all mean to you? In short, this means that you need to choose games where the pre-flop raises are not very large. Most often, these are games in which the average pot consists of about 6-7 maximum bets. Obviously, most of the time you see games in which the average pot is much higher. And often, these are games with a long waiting list. But the fact that these games have big pots does not mean that they are more profitable. In fact, this likely means that luck will play a much more important role than the ace would like.

Sounds pretty boring? After all, it's much more fun to play games with huge sweat, and no amount of theoretical chatter can change that. But if you are only interested in money, play only where the stakes are lower. Plus, the pleasure of playing in a huge pot doesn't match the pleasure you get of wiping your nose at an annoying guy who constantly limps with 7-4 offsuit.

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