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Throwing Your Weight Around

Erick Lindgren, from Daniel Negreanu’s Power Hold ‘Em Strategy, leads the charge into fierce online territory with an arsenal of maximum bets.

If a guy is buying for the max, he’s obviously deep online. He has the money on the table because he’s probably been winning, or he’s a long-term pro and he keeps a lot of money in his account. I’d give him a little more credit.

Against a guy buying in for the max, you’re going to have to calculate more pot odds or implied odds when you’re in a pot against him. There is more strategy to consider. You’re going to see more flops and be able to play more pots to the river. You’ll be able to pretend you have hands and can bluff more often. I believe it’s always better to play with a deep stack because you have more options; you’re playing more poker.

To maximise my potential in a session, I’m going to focus on my opponents whose betting patterns matter: the players who have chips. If a guy with a $1,000 stack often pushes in behind me, I will track him and hopefully run some people through him. In other words, I’m just going to call or raise with a big hand; hopefully he’ll push and entice another player to call with a weaker hand. Then I’ll have the option to reraise. So, I can bounce some stuff off of him if I know that a small stack goes all in pretty often. It gives me a few options to play some side pots against the third guy. Let’s say that you have pocket 3s and see the flop three-way with an all-in short-stack opponent and a third player. The board comes Q-10-9, and the third player checks. (See figure 1 below.)

You might want to shoot a bet into the pot to see if you can get him to fold something better than you have, maybe a pocket pair higher than yours. That way, you can get heads up against the original raiser, who is all-in. Who knows what the all-in player has? But when the third player checks, he’s given you the right to take the pot. So I recommend taking any side pots you can in online cash games. If it looks like your opponent has given up, fire in a bet!

When your opponent has the minimum buy-in amount, you don’t have the implied odds for a big pot, and you’ll be less likely to make moves on him. Why bet risky chips against a player when you can win only $1,000 from him, when you can make that same move against a player with $5,000 available to grab?

I’m a deep-stack player, so I’m going to rebuy any time I’m below the max. I don’t want to miss an opportunity if a big hand comes up and I can get all of my opponent’s chips. That’s why I like to top it right off. If you allow yourself to get short, your strategy changes and you must adapt to playing short-stacked throughout your session. It’s much better to top off your stack, especially if you’re playing against weaker players, even if they’re running good. You need to have enough money on the table so that if you double up, you will get even from your losses and come ahead.

I like chipping up, earning chips bit by bit. At the same time, I never want to miss a chance to win a big pot if I flop a set against an opponent that will play with me. That’s why I think you should buy in for the maximum. If you’re not an underdog to the game, I don’t see why you wouldn’t take advantage of adding more chips if you have the chance to do so.

Understand Your Limits

Keep in mind that big swings of luck are possible, so you either have to be very comfortable buying in for the maximum in your game, or you should play at a smaller game. Remember, the online game moves fast. You get dealt lots of hands per hour and the play is more aggressive than a live cash game. You can’t think in terms of just one buy-in because you might lose it quickly in no-limit hold ‘em. All it takes is one hand and all your chips are gone—and that can happen several times in a short span of time. I’ve lost as many as 20 buy-ins in a single game, but that’s part of the risk. While you may not want to put that much money at risk, you should be comfortable enough to lose three or four buy-ins for one session. If it’s not your day, take a break and try again when you’re rested and those losses aren’t on your mind.
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