Never sit on the pot, limit!

Oct 30, 2006 4:23 AM

Carol, most of the folks who read my columns know that I try to write a little differently than other poker columnists while trying to work a little poker into the mix. But, today I want to make this entire column about poker.

So, this week we’ll start off with my Poker tip of the Week.

First the game of poker is always changing, it is never the same, so you have to grow your poker game or you will have a great deal of difficulty in winning.

I do not like change; I like the old ways. But they are gone, like the Dodo bird. You have to grow your game or you will need to find money to buy chips.

The creation of so many poker tournaments and the Internet’s super fast play and the televised poker tournaments and games, have not only increased the number of players, but have decreased the skill factor a great deal.

Simply stated, the play of No Limit Hold’em Poker has killed one of my favorite poker games. Pot Limit Hold’em is and was one of the poker games that I’ve always loved to play for

fun and profit.

Pot Limit required all the skill factors that are necessary to be a winning player. But No Limit requires very little skill; it actually requires more nerve than skill.

Now, I love Doyle Brunson, a member in good standing of "The Seniors" World Championship of Poker/ Poker Players Hall of Fame. But how can it be a skillful play to take a 10-2 and win the Big One, not once, but twice with this hand?

It is a courageous play, and I think Doyle is the best No Limit Hold’em poker player in the world.

So, I sure hope that Doyle does not get upset with me, but I am going to tell a little story of one of the times that I was at the final table with Doyle, Stu, Johnny Moss and a few other old time poker players.

It was at the World Series at Binion’s about 25 years ago. Doyle had good chips and would fake a look at his cards, looking under his elbow, and then make the correct bet at the pot. Then if that was called, he would make the correct bet at the pot, even though he would never look at his cards. Then when and if his second bet got called, he would think and look and consider what to do, but most of the time he would again make the correct bet at the pot.

I liked his play so much that I studied very carefully and I noted that when certain players entered the pot he would look back and consider before he made the second bet. And if Johnny Moss bet or entered the pot in front of him, he would either lay his hand down or raise!

Now. Pot Limit Hold’em is a game of skill and mathematics because of the pot odds and implied odds.

For example, say you are playing Pot Limit with two blinds, $5 and $10. If you are first to act, by the rules you may call $10 or raise to the size of the pot.

So, in Pot Limit you can play if you wish and stand a raise if you wish because before the flop there are no pot odds — only the value of your two cards.

In No Limit, if you just say make it $20, a lot of the time some of the young whippersnappers will just try their luck and courage and go all in and raise you $300 or more. Now, how can a skillful player call this unless he has a name brand hand?

So most of the time, you must throw the hand away. And all you can do is wait until you have a big hand before you can play; you cannot play the hand and see the flop.

In Pot Limit, the math comes in and you can call the pot limit raise and take a look. Then you can play with skill and be mathematically correct. You may not win the pot, but you are not playing bingo poker.

Now what are pot odds?

Assume that the pot has $50 already in it. Assume the bet coming to you is $50, a full bet. Your options are to throw away, call or raise.

Now you can play if you have a drawing hand, and if you hit the draw you are pretty sure it will win.

Say you compute that you are 3-1 to make the hand, but you are only getting 2-1 for your bet. The only way you can call is if you think that if you make the hand, more money will come into the pot. And that results in "implied odds," the future amount of money that may be bet after the river card.

Now, in Pot Limit you have skill; in no limit you have courage.

The no limit games you see on TV are not realistic. They have enough chips to play with and can make bets of the correct size and play a little poker, there is never enough money on the table to make bets calls and raises!

So, most of the time it is just bet and take it. But when someone raises all-in in a cash no limit game In Pot limit, the contest is on until the end!

Until next time remember to stay lucky.