Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Some observations about .50/$1 NL

Now that I've played a bit (about a month) at $100 NL, I've noticed a few observations. These can't really be backed up by a fair amount of hands to make any serious judgments, but these are some trends i've noticed. I'm also grappling with a decision.

1. The players aren't much better at this level, and there are actually some worse players at PokerStars than at the $50 NL level on Bodog.
But they are better. They will bluff you more, act more aggressively and will challenge you. It's tougher to play out of position and they won't let you check your top pair on the river. This is fine, as I'm willing to make some tough calls, and way more often than not, I'm right, but I've probably folded more times than I should, too.
2. As a result, I am really hesitant to play out of position. I'm trying to take position back even when I'm out of position by checking my hand at times and betting out at other times. But it's still difficult for me. There's nothing wrong with playing a lot fewer hands out of position however.
3. The players bluff more, but many times their bluffs make no sense. They will bluff when it's obvious they are betting on the come and fire a big bet on the river when that draw doesn't fill. I've picked off many bluffs simply by calling with top pair weak kicker or even less on an obvious draw board when the board doesn't really make much sense for a big bet, unless they have a set, and I've tried to approach my game not being afraid of sets any longer. They don't have a set every time.
4. Three-betting is more common. But I like that because it defines my opponent's hand a lot more. I've noticed a lot of all-ins, too, with A-K (which is stupid in my mind, these are cash games, not tournaments) and 10s and up. I still refuse to commit all-in pre-flop with anything but A-A and maybe K-K. That's saved me a lot of money through the years.
5. I've noticed a few leaks in my game:
• I still call too much instead of raising. I do this because I want to control the pot sizes when I only have a pair, but I should raise on the flop because that might slow down my opponent, and if it does not, I can either be done with the hand if my hand does not improve or proceed with caution.
• I don't observe my opponents as much as I should. I three-table, so clear observation for every opponent is impossible, but I should pay more attention to the regulars.
• I still don't speculate enough. That's probably worse now that the limits are higher. I'm used to the higher bets now, but it still makes me a little nervous. I especially need to open my range up when I'm in position and call obvious c-bets to take away pots on the turn.
• I do not c-bet enough myself. Unless my A-high hand hits, I rarely c-bet, as they don't seem to work much anymore, especially when I'm out of position. I need to be more aggressive about that, as too many pots are taken away from me. I'll always remain cautious but I need to recognize that there are good times to c-bet.

Now my decision. I've always enjoyed opening new accounts at poker rooms and building rolls over there. Now that I'm basically done with Bodog, I am considering opening an account with Cake Poker through Rakebrain.com.
The site offers great promotions, including freerolls and rakeback races where it offers cash on top of your rake.
I've never had rakeback before and it would be nice to open an account with one.

But here's the thing. I am enjoying tackling the higher limits and I'm enjoying playing on Pokerstars because I love its Mac client. And I also don't know how many players there are at Cake and whether it's easy to get a good game going. I am sorely tempted to try it but that would probably take away my time from improving at the $100 NL tables, as I can't be rolled for that limit at Cake.

What do you think?

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