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Introduction

 

Short-Handed Tips

Some tips are given so as to help with your short-handed game. They should be helpful to those of you who avoid playing in games where several players have left the game.

•  Adapt what you have learned in this ring game case. The easy way to your mind thinking on the right direction when playing short-handed is to remember a general point made by Skylansky and Malmuth in the former editions of their Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players: When you are playing short-handed it is much similar playing in blind or in last position in a full game after most of the players have folded. If you know how to play your hand correctly, after everyone has folded to you, then you are close to know how to play it correctly when you are in a four-handed game.

•  Note that your rivals' attitude change. Besides, it also gives awareness that the "psychology" of the game changes when short-handed, and you begin to have a more thorough understanding of short-handed play. As Malmuth indicated in Poker Essays, players in a short-handed game are expecting you to raise with weaker hands, and so will defend their blinds more weakly. Therefore, a hand like

with which you can try to steal some players' blinds in a full game, may need to be folded (or might just call) more often when playing short-handed. You should always think more on hands with some high card value.

You will see that when the game gets very short-handed, few of your rivals will start showing something strange hands. You need not worry about when you come across hands like

Or

This is another part of mind set in short-handed games. Most of the players have only half a belief of short-handed play and assume that they have to start playing very "loosely," perhaps playing with a little high card value. They thus play many hands than they would in the similar full game situation stated above in tip number one. Be careful that this is their strategic thinking so that you will know what's going on if you find that even in a three or four handed game you are playing more tightly than your rivals.

•  Be careful of how your rivals perceive you. As this is important in a full game too, it is also important when playing short-handed against the same players for any given period of time. These players are playing good hands against you and somewhat knew how you are playing than they would be in a full game.

Suppose, even more than usual, if you have been caught bluffing couple of times, you have to sit and wait little until you have some sort of real great hand, before placing it again. You again don't require a monster. But it is better to have some kind of pair, and be ready to get played with by a rival who may think you are stealing once again. Similarly, if you have a big hand in this case, you should slow-play it less, as you will likely get more than full value for it from your prudent rivals. However, if you have shown down nothing but high cards for a while it might be a good time to come in for a raise with that 7 ? 5 ? or with other similar hand. (The short-handed with hand like

is considered as high cards.) Such a hand should have better implied odds for you, as your rivals are less likely to put you on it if you hit something.

•  Use more deception. Since the pot is small and heads-up, you can use more deception in your game. For example, you may slow-play set (or even less than high pair) on the flop that you would raise with a multi-way pot in order to make it costly for drawing poker hands. In a short-handed, it is less possible that the draw is there against you, and allowing your rivals catch up little or perceive you as weaker than you are may well profited at the desired risk.

•  Can play aggressively and can often semi-bluff. You can do this against most rivals, but remember who you are up against. If your rival is calling station then just as in a full game, you can semi-bluff less, and can use little deception.

•  Equalize your aggressive play with some passive calling too. As your rival will be playing aggressively, allow them to play by checking and calling with a hand like one pair, the way you would do with a normal bluffer.

•  Be careful that heads-up play is inimitable: It would be a mistake to compare heads-up play with, three or four-handed play. The elimination from three players to two players is crucial. While your skills from normal short-handed play help in playing heads-up, the skill does have a distinct character. The swings in my opinion are greater too. Learn and study and get some strong experience before choosing to play heads-up with anyone who is experience and fairly skilled in that play.

•  Be certain to get a rake cut: A normal rake in short-handed game (say, about $3 taken out of most pots) is too much. It may be insuperable when depended on the limit. Better be certain that the card room considerably reduces or eliminates the rake for you as long as the game is short-handed. Anyway, you are holding the game together for them until more players come along. They should be glad to give you this opportunity.

Now, I hope I have made it clear that you should continue to play when the game gets short-handed. The tips I have given will help silent players feel contented following this profitable kind of play. Study and learn about playing short-handed, and find for opportunities to get inexpensive experience or to play against those rivals who are not so tough. For more thorough explanation of the topic of short-handed, from both theoretical and practical point of view, refer to texas hold'em poker for Advanced Players: 21 st Century Edition.

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