Having talked to quite a few live players, one thing that usually gets mentioned is that 1/2 is considered one of the hardest levels. I have to say from what I've experienced, I'd agree with that. A lot of 1/2 players like to play 1/1 and play it like a 1/2. They do this because the players are generally weaker post flop and can make more money out of the game since there's a lot more inexperienced players at these tables.
One thing that's apparant is that you can lose a LOT of money if you're not carefull at both these levels.
If you're a newbie, this level should be given a bit of a miss until you're ready for it. Obviously some are more ready than others.
It's dead right that isolation is a nightmare. Generally at the Casino I usually attend, in the 1/1 game you get about 3 or 4 limpers to the button, who then raises about £6 and the limpers turn into callers. 1/2 is just as bad w.r.t. being able to get the players down. Because of this there get somes scarey money in the pot preflop. Usually the field limits after the flop when there's a decent bet.
From my experience, the problem with this is that a 'decent' hand in early position doesnt really get any respect, and to avoid that situation, you need to put some hefty bets in there - even that's not gauranteed to work. I see so many people lose a stack on decent enough hands like JJ or QQ who think that 3-5bb raise will do the job but instead builds a large pot, out of position where everyones having a pop.
My advice for an inexperienced
player at this level is firstly work out the table dynamics. If if too aggressive, move on. Sometimes that's not pracatical. You may have waited for 40 mins to get in a game for example and there's a huge list waiting.
If that's the case and you still want to play, I'd recommend playing the short stack. This isn't really the most 'popular' advice you'll get. I gaurantee you'll get lots of replies rubbishing this. I know and understand the arguments for stacking up very well but I think if inexperienced at this level, you're gonna get outplayed - mostly after the flop.
My strategy would be to buy in at the level where you could push and it will make some players think about it. If its a very weak table, I'd buy in absolute minimum and the more aggressive it is, I'd increase it slightly.
Here you're aim isn't
to get in there and make a lot of money, it's more to get the experience at the table and be extremely tight so you don't lose
much. Don't misunderstand this - I want you to make money, yes of course BUT with the smallest risk possible because the chances are you're looking in decent shape to do exactly that.
When you're good hand comes you ship it. I need to point out that hands like JJ are not going to withstand 2 callers very well. If you're last to act and there's 3 players commited QQ won't hold up on an aggressive table either, so you're still going to have to chose your moments as best as possible. You have to be very very patient. BTW When I say premium, I'm talking AA, KK, AK etc widening the range for the amount of likely callers at the table. For example if you're stack is £80 in the BB and by the time it gets round to you there are 4 callers who've called an UTG raise for £40 each, I don't think pushing your AA would be wise with your stack. You have to have some intellect to what you're doing. AA is less than 50% with 3 players neve mind 4. Someone might quote something here like if you play this 100 times at those pot odds
blah blah. Not interested in that argument. You want minimum risk till you know what you are doing.
Not convinced? Here's something to ponder - betting skew!
Casinos, have a maximum on roulette
. Do you know why?? Because, for statistcs to work correctly they want everyone to bet a reasonably managable
amount so that over 1 million hands the statistics kick in and they make a profit. What they dont
want is for to give you the opportunity to be able to bet £1,000,000 on a single bet and get lucky! The betting is skewed and produces what is known as a black swan
! i.e. a very low probability event that can have huge consequences. Statistics with manageable bets will ALWAYS win. That's how Casinos have lots of money and we don't. IMO You should aim to do the same, but in your case its avoiding betting skew to avoid losses. Here's what I mean.... You bet 99 hands at between £1-£3 and win. You bet 1 hand at $1000 and lose. You've won 99% of your hands but lost a lot of money.... because its skewed! Something I believe a lot of poker players totally miss when they sit at the tables and count their outs for their draws!!
Anyway, by betting like this, you will:
- Limit you're exposure to being outplayed both before and after the flop. This is because you are totally FORCED to play premiums.
- Gets your money in with a good hand.
- Gets you at the table until you are comfortable to buy in for more.
- Limits your exposure to losing a lot of money, but gives you a shot at winning something. Remember: I'm advising this because of experience will cost you a lot of money.
- Force you to learn to play the short stack effectively at this level. There will be many times you'll be doing this - sometimes not by choice. Now's a good time to learn how to maximize it. I actually know a couple of players who do this quite a lot. They are NOT weak players, they are very very good players who know how to play this strategy and build upwards.
The downside is:
- You have to be very very patient. However, turn this into a positive. Use this time to study and learn what's going on with the players- how much they are betting, how often, what position, who always raises the button, who straddles.
- You have less folding equity at the table due to your short stack. However, you will have a very tight table image which should help you when you push.
- When you push, even with you're tight image, you run the risk of still being called by 3+ callers on an aggressive table anyway. But that's the risk you have to take. TBH I've seen huge pots where people have called £200 with 9Ts to hit a gutshot! What I'm saying is you can't totally predict who'll do what. It can get totally messed up and mad, but it does happen. Some people just like to gamble and just don't play to any rules.
If you're stack starts to get low, top it up.
Ideally you'd like to see the flop as cheaply as possible, especially if the table is easy going and lets you breath and you've decided to play with hands like pairs where you really want to hit a set.... that's if the table dynamics allows you to do that. Most tables with charge a lot for that sort of thing.
Hope it helps