Sunday, October 18, 2009

Analyzing NLHE:TAP Concept 20

After this post, I'll be one third of the way through the concepts at the end of No Limit Hold 'Em: Theory and Practice by David Sklansky and Ed Miller.

Concept No. 20: Sometimes you should limp behind limpers with pocket aces.

I agree with this. It does sound a little like it's recommending that you "randomize" your play, which I've argued against previously. However, this one is a little different for two reasons.

First, Sklansky and Miller are not actually recommending that you apply this advice in a random manner. Instead, they say, "you'd do this if you have opponents yet to act who like to raise a series of limpers with weak hands." I agree, but I think there are also other situations where you may want to limp behind limpers with AA. Basically, any situation where you think it likely that someone behind you will raise is a good time to limp with AA. In fact, sometimes you should be limping with weaker hands, as well. This week I was sitting to the right of a maniac, and I literally stopped raising preflop with any hands because it was so likely that the maniac would reopen the betting for me if I just limped. This was a great situation because I got the best relative position before the flop, meaning I got to see how everyone else reacted to the maniac's raises before I had to decide how to proceed. This is an extreme situation, but even if the player to your left is only somewhat maniacal, limp-raising with JJ+ (or even weaker) may be correct.

Second, although randomizing your play is not usually a good idea, it can be theoretically correct to randomize your play in certain situations with the best possible hand. Before the flop, AA is the best possible hand, and it can be useful to include it in your limp-raising range. Even if you are never in a game with a maniac or with players that like to try to steal before the flop after several limpers, it still might be a good idea to limp randomly sometimes with AA behind other limpers. This play is probably only worthwhile if your opponents do not expect you would try such a thing. If they already do expect you'd try this play, it's probably not worth actually doing; its value is in its deceptiveness.

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