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Introduction

 

Short-Handed Play

Never Miss Out

Many play poker players are introverted from short-handed games. It is very bad. They miss out some of the motivating and profitable poker there is. Short-handed play gives a mixture in your play, more deception, and more psychology than ring game play. Besides you get to play a lot more hands! In such ways, short-handed play has more of what many of us feel poker is all about.

Is Short-Handed Profitable?

I have stated that short-handed play can be more profitable than play in a full game. If in case any doubt, you can consider this: A standard ring game may contain a couple of good players, a couple of decent players, two or three average players, and couple of bad players. Precisely, you can profit more from bad players than from the others. It is true that many experts think that much of your profit comes from the bad, and also somewhat from an average players.

So wouldn't you do much better if decent and average players are not in the game? If you would make everyone else out and just play against bad players, isn't that top of the world? It would really increase your opportunities to make good decisions than your rivals. You can have a poker situation - or fairly close to it - when you play short-handed. You have to be a game selective. But in my opinion, when game becomes short-handed, one or two bad or average players often stay to play and that is what you need. Again if you are lucky you might play against the bad players. However, sometimes a good player can also play in the game. Still, the ratio of bad to good players can make this a better situation for you.

Remember that many decent ring game players do not play very well short-handed. Also, some losing, loose, aggressive, ring game players do very well in a short-handed setting. You need to consider when assessing who is a "good" player in a short-handed game. However, it might take only one weak short-handed player to make the situation profitable.

There were events where I played three-handed with one of the best short-handed players. The earnings not only come from the tough player but also from the bad players who chooses to play in this game. Here I was in a game where half of the players played badly.

One more factor to maximize your profit potential in short-handed games is the number of hands played per hour. Even though the pots are smaller, in a short-handed game you can play many more hands per hour than in a full game. More hands played mean more profit. Also in a ring game in which you are surrounded by bad players, you do not have anything like this. In fact in such kind of games, you will be sitting out hands, watching bad players earn their money around. There you will have another opportunity to outplay and profit against a player whose decisions are worse than yours. (Note the caution below is about heads-up play.)
When your game becomes short-handed tips start looking for those players left behind. If you have been quitting when the game is really rich in weak players, you have been making a bad play.

Short-Handed Play and Game Preservation

For the middle or higher limit player, there is an additional significant reason to play short-handed game. If your card room is not in one of the major poker centers, then your game may well be surviving loosely - nowadays, breaking up midday tomorrow, maybe not being spread at all during some periods. I suggest that a major factor contributing to a game not being spread continuously in a given card room, is players' unwillingness to play short-handed game.

If you want to feel like poker expert, keep playing when your game gets down to five-handed or less. If some of your rivals play in there too, then the chances are strong that the game will fill up again within couple of hours. Then you will have some knowledge of what your staying to play achieved. I have found it happen about 80 percent of the many times I have been present in this situation myself. A game that might have disappeared and not recovered until the next day, continued on instead. This does have a lot of thinking for the overall survival of your game. It minimizes the frequency of players calling or, worse, coming to the card room only to say that there is no game going on. Quite obvious, when they hear that there is no game, few online poker players will without thinking give up their game on the card room.

Be Ready for Some Fluctuations

Short-handed play certainly increases your fluctuations. To play hands with small benefit aggressively to the river develops inevitably swings. You must be ready for this. The swings are fairly under control however, by the greater advantage you can have short-handed if you are a game selective and by the larger number of hands played over a given period of time.

As you improve in your short-handed play, your swings should decrease as long as you remain selective of your rivals. But in my opinion players' fears of fluctuations are overstated. Anyway, they are bigger, but if you play against the right rivals they can be smaller than you would think. When your advantage is marked you may be shocked at how prudent they are.

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