Bad Calls In Short-Handed Poker Play
Tuesday, 8. December 2009

Each poker derivation enjoys its own strategies and approaches. Moreover, within each different derivation there are different strategies employed at different Limits as well as different table sizes.

It’s rather surprising, but many sufficiently skilled players do fall apart in short-handed play. It’s almost as if they are unable to adjust their strategy to playing with fewer people and more frequent blinds. The following are some common mistakes that you’d do well to avoid when playing at short-handed games.

Playing Dog in the Manger
It’s natural to think that the blinds you have posted are your money (for they are). It is also natural to try to defend your blinds. After all, the faster turnaround means you’re soon going to be short-stacked if you don’t try to defend your blind bets. However, it’s not natural to defend your blinds to the exclusion of common sense.

Let’s say you’re the big blind and your hole cards are 72, offsuit. Much as you would like to defend the blinds you have posted, it’s probably a lost cause with such cards. If you persist in defending your blinds, you may lose more than your blind bet. Defending your blinds is bound to cost you extra bets for you would have to raise and re-raise to try and scare other players off.

Strategists know there’s a time to take a stand and time to pack up and wait for the next opportunity. There is no rule in poker that says you have to defend blindly – so use your head. You can’t get out of placing a bet because you’re in the blind position; but you don’t need to become a victim of your ill-advised doggedness.

Playing Suited Connectors
Playing suited connectors is fine in a regular game, if you’re the button, or if you’re the blind. However, if you’re out of position and holding small suited connectors in short-handed game, the best option for you would be to fold rather than hope that the cards will go your way.

Slowplaying a Big Pair from a Late Position
You’ve got the button and were handed a pair of pocket aces. The correct play here will be to raise and steal the blinds – but you simply call, trying to look innocent and hoping that the pot will increase on the flop, turn and river.

This might work if the game is full; short-handed, however, such a move will be a signal that you’ve got a good hand and that the others better be wary. Attrition is the name of the game in poker, especially tournament play - keep in mind that a short-handed game means the remaining players are good enough to have survived; they would be good enough to know that limping when you’re on the button may well mean that you’ve got high cards in your pocket – and they’ll avoid playing unless they’re on tilt and feeling suicidal.

The best move would be to go ahead and steal the blinds. This may not be as emotionally satisfying but the end result is the same; you still get the chips.

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