Starting Out in No Limit Irish MTTs
As promised in this thread
, here are my tips for Irish Poker. Please feel free to add any strategy insights of your own.
A Beginner`s Guide to No Limit Irish Poker MTTs
Many of you will have spotted that Full Tilt has recently started offering Irish Poker. When the poker rooms launch an unfamiliar variant, there is always an initial “golden age” when the games are soft, until players get the hang of them. This can be a profitable opportunity for those who take the trouble to study and understand the new game.
In the last two weeks, I have played eight Irish tournaments and final-tabled five of the eight. They are only small-stakes tournaments (the highest buyin that Full Tilt are offering on a regular basis is $26), but still they are fun and provide some interesting variety alongside the bigger conventional Holdem tourneys that are my usual fare.
If you would like to sample a drop of the Irish, here are some basic tips to get you started:
Irish Poker (which I will abbreviate to NLI for short) is mechanically very similar to Texas
Holdem, and a Holdem player can learn to play very quickly. In Irish, you are dealt a hand of four cards preflop. After the flop betting round and before the turn is dealt, you must discard two cards from your hand and play on with two only. In every other respect, the game is played exactly like NLH.
That comparatively minor difference in the structure of the game requires quite a lot of adjustment in your strategy.
At the flop, in Holdem, you have only one way in which to construct a five card hand from your hole cards and the flop, but in NLI there are six ways (the three cards of the flop, plus any two from the four in your hand). Therefore, hand values change. Top pair is a weak hand in NLI and Two Pair is not much better, because sets will be common.
Additionally, a Straight draw on the flop is much less valuable than in Holdem. Even if you hit, there is a greater chance in Irish Poker that you will be second best to a Flush or a Full House.
Set-mining with low pairs needs to be done carefully at NLI. If you hit your set, there is a significantly greater chance (compared to Holdem) that an opponent will have made a bigger set. Therefore, you must be prepared to lay it down if you meet resistance on flop and turn.
Notice that three of a kind in your hand preflop is very weak. You must discard one, and will then have only one out to your set.
You will see a lot of NLI players being very loose with their hand selection and seeing 80% or more of flops. That may be a workable approach from late position when blinds are low and effective stacks are high but, in general, I would advocate more care over hand selection. It`s very easy at NLI to bleed chips if you make a habit of playing mediocre hands.
Good preflop hands are those which contain a high pair and/or a suited Ace or King. Beware of attaching too much value to lower suited cards. In NLI, the Ace or King is twice as likely (compared to Holdem) to be in play in an opponent`s hand, and there is a proportionately greater risk, if you make your flush, of being crushed by a bigger flush.
Whenever you are dealt a good hand, for example As 9s Qd Qh, you must raise preflop in order to drive out as many as possible of the see-a-flop-with-any-4 players. In Holdem, a standard preflop raise would be 3x BB, but in NLI that will often be insufficient and you will have to make your standard raise 5x or 6x in order to simplify the field to one or two opponents. Naturally, this will vary from one table to another and you will have to find out by observation and experiment what works with your current table.
On the flop, if you don`t hit at least a set or a strong draw, you should consider yourself finished with the hand. As I said earlier, anything less than a set will rarely be good. In other respects, after bearing in mind that the opponent`s range will be stronger, post flop play is similar to Holdem.
The general principles of tournament play continue to apply. For example:
* In the early part of the game, when deepstacked, position assumes greater importance. Tighten up from early and mid position.
* Once the blinds rise to approx 10% of starting stack, you should be looking for opportunities to steal.
* As the bubble approaches, punish weak opponents who are looking to hang on into the money.
Here`s hoping you have the luck of the Irish. Enjoy.