When No Limit first began to become popular around 2003, right around the time of the poker TV boom, some casino executives came up with an ingenious idea. Instead of having no limit games be truly no limit they figured that if they capped the buy in at the smaller levels that they would attract new blood. Their assumptions were correct.
Players who were traditionally scared of big bet games (remember rounders where Matt Damon says “even pros avoid No Limit”) now felt like they could sit in without the worry of losing too much money at one time. Since the casinos wanted to entice more people to play a smaller, restricted, buy in was a perfect fit. Hence the appearance of games like $100 and $200 max buy in tables with ridiculous blind structures such as $2-$3 or $2-$5.
Unlike limit holdem, no limit has always been an implied odds game when deep. You want the ability to play hands that could win your opponents’ stack when they make a second best hand. That is why small pocket pairs and suited connectors are so powerful. When you are playing short stacked no limit, though, like in these capped games or tournaments, the game plays with more showdowns. High unpaired cards go way up in value.
Flipping forward almost ten years, however, people still don’t correctly grasp this preflop strategy. I watch hundreds of hours of low level cash games with hole cards played on Live at the Bike and still most of the biggest leaks I see in peoples’ games is preflop.
I have mentioned in previous columns that there is a really simple math formula to help you plug these preflop leaks in capped cash games. Check out my podcast over on Seatopenpoker.net titled “Deuce Plays Premium 15-25-35”. A quick application of simple math and stack sizes will drastically increase your winrate. Without getting into too much detail here simply put you can never correctly call a preflop raise heads up with less than forty or so big blinds if the raise size is more than four times the big blind. You really should not be limping or over limping much either. The shorter that you get the more it is correct to either raise, reraise or fold with almost of all of your holdings. Kind of, again, like limit holdem. It is such a simple concept and it does not take a world class player to be tight. But at these levels if you are not playing this way the games are almost impossible to beat especially with the rake.