Master short-handed strategy
Different Short-Handed Strategies:
All poker players make the distinction between No Limit Texas hold 'em and Fixed Limit, but some fail to adjust to short-handed tables after playing in a full ring. Contrary to popular belief, the differences are considerable and if you want the transition from regular tables to shorthanded play to be successful, you need to know the basics.
One of the first things that you will notice when playing at a table with no more than five opponents, is that you will get plenty of action. Unlike a full ring where players need to be very patient and wait for their turn, in a shorthanded environment they act more often and should be more aggressive. You simply can't afford to wait for premium hands and play only these monster cards, because you need to steal blinds frequently while protecting your own.
Players who continue to show excessive caution and don't create the appropriate table image, will be immediately singled out by the rest and pushed around. The image you create is what defines you at the table and the best in each one can project in shorthanded play is one of a tight aggressive player. This kind of opponents are feared by the entire table and that's why they can afford to take the initiative often and get away with their aggressive plays.
The advantage of being aggressive pre-flop becomes obvious when the board shows, because those who are perceived as determined and in control will dictate the course of play on flop and turn. While you try to project the best image at the poker table, you also need to be aware about what other players are doing and what kind of range they fancy. You need to know which are the tight players and avoid them when they show sudden aggressiveness, and which are the loose opponents who are more likely to bluff. The most important thing is to closely watch your opponents and play your cards accordingly. Be aware of tight players and always know when to fold your hand if you think that you are not good enough to beat them.
At a shorthanded table, you need to have a keen eye for details to correctly assess one’s strategy and determine his range. Given the fact that there are less players to worry about and the frequency of hands is much higher than in a full ring, the number of bluffs also increases. You can't afford to play it safe, because the other players will see through you and on the rare occasions when you choose to raise nobody will risk calling your hand. Many important pots are won with a marginal hand, and showdowns are the exception rather than the rule, so try to take pots down as early as possible regardless of their size.
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