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Balance is the Key

Recently I have switched poker sites again, I do this periodically if I find good games and plenty of fish. I don’t play anywhere near as much poker these days and most of that is at between NL50 and NL200 full-ring NLHE. Recently I have been watching the games on PokerLoco after getting a tip off. While many of you will not have heard of this site, it is on the Ongame network and I have found some king sized fish on some of the games that I have been watching.

The only problem is that I haven’t been able to play due to time restrictions. I don’t know what sort of players they are attracting at this site but the average level of play as far as I am concerned is mediocre. I cannot speak for the other poker forms but NL50 full ring is poor and most of the players seem weak-tight.

The problem with weak-tight as a poker style is that you never really take advantage of numerous profitable opportunities. A typical weak-tight player at say NL100 plays something like between 13-15% of their hands. They don’t value bet often enough thus leaving too much money on the table. They stack off too easily as well with good second best hands against other deep stacks.

These are common leaks in no-limit play, but if you are going to take your game to the next level in these games, then you are going to have to find some balance. I don’t believe that the vast majority of players at these levels create balance. To be fair, I don’t think that they need to most of the time. Enough weak fish drop in to satisfy the regulars and getting rakeback and other bonuses and incentives keeps the masses happy.

I have played a lot of small-stakes NLHE recently from NL50 to NL200 and I have found weak players wherever I have gone. But quite often, certain promotions or what players perceive as site assets attract players of a certain calibre. Maybe a particular promotional program attracts certain classes of fish but one thing is for sure, PokerLoco is definitely going to be a site that I will be hanging around for quite some time.

On the subject of balance, I like to attack the blinds in these games – not just from late position like everybody else does but in middle position too. There are a large number of players multi-tabling and collecting rakeback. Multi-tabling promotes tighter play and the auto fold buttons being used so frequently meaning that playing too tight is definitely costing money at these levels.

I have said it before and I will say it again, players depend too much on software these days to make money. This is fine to a level, but not if it is detrimental to your poker technique. This is highlighted in the fact that idleness and wanting quick fix solutions is so pervasive in human nature that it is simply bound to slip across into poker.

Also it has to be said that poker is so infinitely complex that the average player stops far short of the level that they really need to be. This is easily done and when players start to make money, it is then amazingly easy for them to believe that they have cracked it. In a way, it is no different than any other sport or game. When you are winning then it is sometimes difficult to see what you are doing wrong. The sheer act of winning deludes people into believing in their own mind that they have done everything correctly or that their process is faultless.

In this aspect, it is no different to a poker pot. A player may feel ecstatic at winning a $400 pot but that is relative. Perhaps, if by playing better or concentrating harder, they could have stacked their opponent thus winning a $600 pot. The word “balance” isn’t just used in poker to define the playing of poker hands. Balance is key in everything that you do in life from how much you drink to how much you eat and even to how much money you should save.

Poker is no different and finding the proper balance at a poker table should be your ultimate goal. Between playing too tightly and too loosely is the proper balance, tracking software like Poker Office, which is what I use, can assist you in finding this balance. Even then though, feeling the game out is probably the best way. It is never a bad thing in poker to start out in a certain gear and then adjust based on what happens during the session.

If you start out attacking the blinds aggressively, then you may just get away with this for longer than what you think. When players begin to play back then you can tighten up to what is a more balanced strategy. Likewise if you start off by playing tight, you may be missing plenty of opportunities to make money. Loosening up until you then find the proper balance is the best strategic step to take. You see poker is like life…..balance is needed in all areas.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson can be seen at his blog at www.pokersharkpool.com.

Carl Sampson

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