Constantly max out your buy in in capped games

Capped no limit strategy is a very straight forward topic. Most of the time if you play extremely tight in a long handed...

Posted Jan 15, 2014


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

Capped no limit strategy is a very straight forward topic. Most of the time if you play extremely tight in a long handed format, bet thinly for value, know how to bet-fold and do not tilt you can be a winner in the game. The simple fact of the matter is, and I have examined this before, you really cannot call more than 4x preflop raises with implied odds types of hands (like suited connectors) when playing an effective stack of eighty big blinds or less (the average stack in these games).

But there are also other live intangibles that will take your game to the next level and maybe increase your win-rate by as much as fifty percent. The great casino players do them and online guys struggle at it. The biggest and most important of these is the proper exploitation of image.

Image, in a live format, is definitely a short term function of winning and losing not looseness or tightness. The simple fact of the matter is that people will stay away from you when they deem you to be "running hot" and will go after you when they think that you are unlucky. It is tough to make a hand in holdem so when you have a good image your continuation bets get through more often and you are able to bluff in more situations. Unfortunately when you are losing people never believe that you have anything. The proper adjustment that you must make is to play very tight and to go for straight value.

The interesting thing that most people do not consider is that if you have a bad image you are actually able to make thinner value bets because people will call you with a wider range. Adversely, if you have a godlike aura sometimes you need to pull back the reigns on your very thin value bets because people tend to stay out of your way and you run the risk of value owning (value betting a worse hand) yourself.

But, if we had a choice, we would still always want to have a good image. And in capped games one of the ways that we can artificially appear to be winning is by always topping our stack off. I use this technique constantly in the $5-10 $500-$1500 max buy in game at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. Whenever my stack goes below $1400 I am always adding one hundred dollar chips and getting it back up to $1500. I intentionally keep loose chips in my pocket for this purpose. Not only do I always have the max buy in where I am the deepest I can possibly be against recreational players but it almost always looks like I am at least even or winning. In fact I could have $4000 in front of me and easily be down for the day. I remember a few years ago I had two hands in the same orbit where I was at the losing end of set over set. I immediately was $3000 in the hole. I lost a few more small pots and suddenly I was stuck $4000 in the first hour but still always had $1500 in front of me. Things eventually turned around that session and about six hours in I had built my stack up to $5000. A buddy of mine (another winning professional) came by my table and mentioned that I must have been having a big day. He did not know that I was actually down $500 for the session. And my friend was a professional!! He knew how these things worked. Imagine what the recreational players thought of me that day.

When you play in the same player pool over a long period of time this constant topping off also helps your long term image. When people always see you with a lot of chips they just always assume that win big all of the time. And even though that is not true it really helps your image on those days that it is obvious that you are losing. Those familiar players tend to still stay away from you because they think you are such a good player--related to the fact that you always have so many chips in front of you.

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