About starting hands
As I was backtracking through the blog, I re-read XD's post about loosening up online, and I have a couple of things I want to say about that:
When talking about loosening up - specifically in limit hold'em - it's imperative to understand that adding marginal hands to your starting selection will more often than not be just that: Marginal. A hand like J9s limped from late position with not too many people in the pot will not, on average, make you a lot of money. Nor will it lose you a lot of money, because it has an expectation of about 0, or slightly above. The "slightly above" qualifier depends entirely on who else is in the pot. If you're an exceptional post-flop player, you can turn a lot of hands into positive expectation, but the effects will still be marginal, when thought of in terms of BB/100 (big bets won over 100 hands).
Now, I'm the first to acknowledge that pushing the small edges is the key in limit poker - what separates winners from losers. But for a lot of players, playing marginal hands will simply place them in the red, because they won't be able to get enough payback when they do hit a hand. Therefore, I'll argue that if you're not a long-term winner, you would do best to go back to playing only very strong hands and practise your post-flop play with those. The extra edge that you can get from playing marginal hands is something that experienced - winning - players can toy around with. But if you're looking to break a little bit of profit, tread carefully and stick with proven strong hands.
That said, I want to add that the emphasis a lot of people have with starting hands has gotten a little bit out of hand. Playing tightly pre-flop is important, but ultimately, the money you win will depend on how you handle yourself post-flop. I think it's likely that the pre-flop hysteria comes partially from how "easy" it is to learn how to play correctly pre-flop: "Just follow this chart." But the money isn't made pre-flop, and the charts are written by people who know how to play the given hands when the community cards hit the table.
I'd like to see a discussion on this, if anyone's interested.
PS. On a not-completely unrelated topic, I'm going to guess that for a lot of people, a poweful hand like AK is not a long-term winner, precisely because people play it so poorly post-flop. I think a discussion about playing AK will deserve its own thread though.