Ring games on RP

I have been playing a few ring games recently after years of not doing so, only playing in sit and go games and multi-table tournaments as that was really all I understood.

Ring games on RP are deadly. Most players have a strategy called "limp every flop, call every raise, see every flop, slow play every hand, and never raise except on the river when you think you are ahead with your two pairs of queens and fours or similar.

Most hands look a bit like this: (I am in the Big Blind here and 8 players all limp to me.)

https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/736807804

So if you are sitting in the BB with AA, it is quite possibly that 5 players will limp to you, and that when you put in an appropriate raise, say 5BB, 3 of them will call the bet, and with 3 opponents there is a distinct chance that someone will flop two pairs with a cleverly disguised Q4o and bust your aces.

So what to do? First of all it seemed to me that what you needed to do was to play only, say, the top 20% of hands and that you should raise the pot so that at least when you were playing a hand, it was a large pot and you had a hand with good potential to make the nuts, while the pots you folded preflop cost you nothing, or only the blinds, and this would reduce your chance of making second or third best hands.

If the flop missed you, then you should just throw away the hand, but sometimes you could win the pot from position with a massive semi-bluff on the flop.

But this still had the drawback that if 5 people limped to you and you raised, then they all called the raise, you were still back to square one, with absolutely no idea what anyone held other than random cards.

So I devised the strategy of making absurdly high raises preflop, so as to narrow the flop down to one or two callers, and then hope that better starting cards would produce aggregate gains to the bottom line.

This seems to be more effective, but you have to play it like a tournament and just be prepared to go bust every now and again. Still the good part is that you can quit while you are ahead in a ring game, which you cannot do in a tournament.

This is how it goes when it goes well.

https://www.replaypoker.com/hand/replay/736809829

I imagine that if you are playing ring games for real money, then it is completely different, but it seems boring to me to play for play money if all you are going to do is limp and call everything down to the river.

In a game for real money, I imagine I would be content to avoid huge bets and just try to make steady small gains, which is not too hard to do when you have draws and are given great pot odds to draw. The important thing is to play hands that can make the nuts by the river, so suited aces, suited hands with a ten in them like T8, T9, JT, QT, and pocket pairs mined for sets and boats.

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Yes… figure out the biggest mistakes your collective pool of players is making at your table, and then decide how best to profit from that.

When normal sized raises get called regularly by more than half of the table, it is time to start experimenting with larger raises (and probably tightening your range slightly as you do this). It’s still fine to get a lot of multi-way pots, but you generally want to keep increasing your raising size while you are often getting called by multiple players with trash hands. If people will often call a pre-flop jam with 72 off, then just going all in pre-flop with a strong range is just fine.

I just have to pile on the agreement here but disagree with tightening your ranges. My experience is that it’s better to tighten your bluffing range post-flop than your opening range preflop.

I have no recent experience at high stake games and zero experience at elite. It certainly seems to be true that, at low and medium stakes, “stupid” size raises, preflop, are required to narrow the field. Pot+ (more pot+ than pot) is required to get heads up on the turn. The downside is that you’re often “stupid raising” with a draw and you’re up against a slow-played pair. C’est la vie! Variance is something we all have to deal with.

The real winning strategy, at my stakes, was developed by @Yorunoame and consists of preflop shoving high equity hole cards. When I get sufficiently drunk that I can hardly see the keyboard I still play it and win!

Regards,
TA

LOL… spoken like a true LAG. By “better”, I suspect you mean that you find that more enjoyable, while still being effective. Certainly just playing a very tight range pre-flop is effective for winning chips, and is probably one of the easiest adjustments people can make to generally increase their win rate. Still, it can be very fun to play a very wide range, and there are certainly players that do that and still win chips.

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This is a common error in bet sizing - 5bb is not an appropriate raise. All that does is guarantee you will be called by everyone because of the price you are setting. From the blinds, the minimum size of a squeeze should be 4x the last bet + dead money in the pot. In the case of 5 limpers ahead of you, that becomes (4)(1) + (5 + .5 + 1) = 10.5bb.

Making overly large opens cuts down on the number of hands you can play and also makes it very easy to play against you. Its a common adjustment made at low stakes games, especially live. If your games are really soft, it works. If you have a few decent players at the table, it doesn’t. You want players to make mistakes, not play better. Give them the opportunity to do so instead of forcing them to play well.

FWIW, the oversized UTG open with JTs is really really bad, despite it working out that hand. Wrong position and wrong size for a hand that loves a high SPR in position. When you cut down the SPR that much, these types of hands underperform while the big pairs over perform.

My suggestion to you (and everyone who has made similar comments before) is to stay away from full ring tables. Play the 4 or 6 max games. The more multiway pots are, the more of a hand you need. The fewer people in the pot, the more strategy comes into play. So, if you want to play some poker, play short handed. If you want to safely win chips, go full ring and nut hunt.

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Yes, you are right there. Actually there is a big difference between ring game play and tournament play here.

Let’s say you are in a tournament and the blinds are 100/200 and 4 players limp to the BB who raises to 5BB (1000 chips). Now each of the limpers has to be prepared to add another 800 chips, and then be prepared to call a bet of 2600 chips on the flop against a hand that MIGHT be AA, KK, or QQ, which will leave them, if not pot committed, then crippled and dead in the water with little option but to shove or fold.

I have noticed that when I make mistakes early in tournaments, but retain enough chips to hurt someone, for example 2500 chips out of a starting stack of 5000 chips, a preflop shoving strategy will yield a surprising number of folds as most players have enough sense to realize that if they call, they may cripple themselves and enable me to double up and become competitive again.

However once the recovery is complete, it is much harder to continue in the same manner as YOU HAVE MORE CHIPS TO LOSE and smaller stacks with great preflop hands will be happy to take a shot at you.

The same will apply in a limited manner in ring games. Let’s say you buy in with 1 million chips. If you go down to 750000 chips you become relatively small stacked and will be facing stacks in the 2-3 million ranger, or higher.

In a ring game a winner can walk away with their chips at any time, but in a tournament they are forced to play to the death. The result is that the larger the stacks of ring game players become, the more conservative they become. Having played for a couple of hours to turn 1 million chips into 3 million chips, do you want to risk a large proportion of your gains on calling a shove with KTo and letting the 750000 stack have a chance to become a 1.5 million stack that can really hurt you?

(Some players will and some players won’t, but hopefully you will have developed some opinions about the playing style of your tablemates.)

I found myself in this situation the other day when I had converted a starting stack of 1 million into 7.5 million (one of my best days in a ring game.) When I raised nobody wanted to play with me, and when someone else raised, I didn’t want to play with anything less than QQ, because when you are on top you can only go down.

In a ring game with deep stacks it is relatively cheap to call that 5BB or 10BB raise, and, as you say, the more people call it in front of you, the better your odds if you choose to call.

What you need to do in ring games is play like a tournament and constantly lure opponents into a corridor of uncertainty where they have to be ready to commit their whole stack, or a large part of it, or fold and yield the pot. Once the table sees that you are there to fight to the death, it will pay attention to your bets, knowing that calling with K9s or Q6s is going to cost a lot of chips if the flop does not hit them head on and that they will not be able to call a bluff without a draw.

Ranges are part of it, but so is psychology. Once it is seen by the table that you are prepared to bring down the hammer on limpers some players will trim their limping ranges, and when you do hit a monster like AA preflop you are much more likely to get action from second best hands on the flop.

Obviously you are going to lose some big pots, but the whole point of no-limit poker is that you are prepared to play for your whole stack to force your opponents to do so when the odds are (in your assessment) in your favour. You are nearly always going to want them to call off their stack with flush and straight draws against top pair on the flop, and if you hold the Ace of the suit flushing on the flop, their odds are not quite as good as they thought, since they have only 8 outs, and if the turn makes the flush, you still have 7 outs on the river, so they will lose more than one out of seven times when they make their flush on the turn.

In this situation a lot of players with the K9 flush draw will call off their whole stack thinking that they are something close to 50/50 and not realizing that they are 2:1 dogs (or K-9s–no pun intended!). The exact percentages will vary slightly with every hand, but I set up this example so that both hands can make a runner-runner gutshot that needs one card from the opponent’s hand, so the odds of either winning with a straight is a wash.

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