Limit Holdem Strategy - Pocket Rockets
There is no shortage of poker and online poker players out there who simply hate Fixed Limit Holdem, especially the small-limit kind, and it is safe to say that – almost without exception – these haters are NL Holdem players. The reasons why these players hate Fixed Limit are numerous, and they can all be traced back to some sort of a myth that these players believe in and consequently fall victim to. One of the most common such myths is that there’s nothing one can do to protect an early made hand in FL Holdem, as opponents will simply keep calling and calling with drawing hands until one of them ends up with a better hand. With this in mind, hands like pocket rockets will always lose in FL games.
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There are so many things wrong with this sort of thinking, I don’t even know where to begin dispelling it. The point that most NL players completely miss is that FL is an altogether different sort of beast when it comes to actual strategy. First of all, mathematically speaking, playing pocket rockets against a better-than-random selection of no fewer than 7 other starting hands still means that the rockets are major favorites. Because of the peculiarities of the situation (all the calling and drawing going on as described above) it IS true that the rockets will win fewer times than in a NL Holdem game, however that number is still about once every three times (~31%). Considering that the likely payout in the above described 8-handed situation is 8-1, those are some pretty impressive odds indeed. The bottom line on this is that while one may end up losing more times on A,A than in NLH, at the end of the day, the hand is in fact more profitable to play in FLH.
To address the issue of not being able to protect one’s rockets: in NLH, one can indeed resort to certain measures to push drawing hands out of a pot, thus increasing the odds of winning for his/her pocket rockets.
In FLH though, this same strategy is counterproductive and should therefore not even be attempted. By trying to protect your rockets, you will end up pushing those off the pot who would’ve had minimal chances to beat you anyway. Don’t protect your rockets: mathematics is on your side here. You just have to be patient-enough to allow it to work its magic for you.
Another major plus that FLH has over NLH is that no drawing hand can take the hero’s entire stack at any point in time due to a lucky break. This deals the luck factor a blow, rewarding skill and steadfastly-pursued positive EV. In FLH, playing hands like pocket rockets and high implied odds hands like suited connectors and suited one-gappers, really is working, because the odds have a better chance of pushing through before the player loses his entire stack.
It is safe to say therefore that FLH is in fact the cornerstone of the poker world, the sort of environment where skill and strategic prowess are best rewarded. It does NOT take away from strategy: quite the opposite in fact, as pointed out above.