Thursday, August 04, 2005

Lotsa loose games

Lately in my live play, I have been playing in a lot of very loose games. This is mostly at $6/$12 and $8/$16 (which lately have been even looser than my past experience), but even at $20/$40. In fact all games in my last 15-20 session hours have been noticeably loose.

If you play in loose games, you have to be prepared to take bad beats. Pots will be large to gigantic, and expect to take very large swings in your chip stack. In these types of games, you will also be able to "correctly" put a bad beat on your opponents, though likely not as often as you will receive bad beats.
Also expect to see some ridiculous calls on the river where the bettor shows a hand like Q high or J high, or bottom pair of deuces and wins a pot larger than 10BB.

The hands that I had a lot of trouble with lately are the high mid pairs 99, TT and the low premium pairs JJ, QQ.

The problem that I have with the high mid pairs usually comes from the following slightly unusual situation of a loose game:
- It is folded to me in MP+1, MP+2, or the CO and I find 99 or TT (the unusual part is that so many people folded in front of me, but it has been happening about once every session on average), I raise and everyone behind me calls. I prefer to limp with anything less than a premium pair in a loose game, but since there are only 3-5 people behind me, I almost always tend to raise to cut down the field. However, in these loose games a single raise has very little impact; the players only consider their starting cards before deciding whether or not they want to see a flop.
- Flop: 1 overcard, 2 lower connected cards and a flush draw is a very frequent flop to get in this situation. This is a very difficult hand to win without improving to a set. I will still often put in a bet on this flop. Depending on the bettor, I may raise this flop, but will not put any more into the pot unless I improve (which pretty much means hitting a 2 outer) (unless I can get it headsup with a rare weak or incredibly loose opponent ). I will often fold to a single bet, and almost always to a flop raise in front of me.

The problem with the low premium pair typical comes from the following type of situation.
- I raise preflop with JJ or QQ, and see the flop with 5 or 6 opponents. The difficult situation typically seems to be when I flop an overpair, but the 3 board cards are fairly coordinated, and despite whatever action happens on the flop, the turn will often be seen by 4-5 people. When an A or K comes on the turn with 2 flush draws, I really start to hate my hand. On the river, if there is 1 overcard, a 3 flush and/or 3 to a straight, it is not a welcome sight to see one of my opponents betting out for the first time in the hand. I will usually still call if I don't expect anyone else to. If there is already a caller, I will usually fold unless the caller is ridiculously loose and/or the bettor is very loose or a very frequent bluffer. I probably would not cold call a raise without stupendous pot odds. (fortunately I haven't had to make this decision lately)

From these two types of scenarios, I will typically lose 2.5-3.5 big bets. It is quite common to ~not~ flop a set a dozen times in a row, so some sessions feel truly awful if you don't win any big pots from other situations. Even if this only happens a couple of times in an hour, if you don't win any pots during that time, it is easy to be down 10-15BB (after taking and/or defending your blinds)

These loose games that have 5-7 people seeing a flop for 1 or 2 bets seems to favor suited connectors (0 or 1 gappers) and any pocket pair. Then give up on the flop without improvement.
I find these types of games are only fun because the people tend to be cheerful, chatty and/or excited, and it is actually exciting to see monster pots. Strategy is very simple, and it doesn't take much thought to play.

Big unsuited A's like ATo, AJo and often even AQo are not very good hands. You must hit the flop, and often you must hit it very hard or improve on the later streets to win. AJo is a particularly lousy hand to raise with in these games. I almost always throw it away in early position in a loose game where I expect to see the flop with 5-6 players no matter what the preflop action is.

In a loose game I much rather have 78s than AJo. (in games where there will often be 3-5 people that see the river)

Over long session hours, these are easy games to beat. When you make a few monster hands and win huge pots, the game seems incredibly easy. Other times, it seems like an eternity since the last time you won a pot. It is important to maintain good starting hand selection, and not go on tilt (and start raising with hands like ATo when you know you will, at least, be called 4-5 ways to the flop).

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