Phil Ivey - Poker Professional
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The Pain Barrier - Manipulating Your Opponent
Joe Beevers
Feb 9, 2007

Finding the Low Cards in Omaha Hi/Lo
Mike Matusow
Jan 15, 2007

Looking at the Long-Term
Erik Seidel
Jan 6, 2007

Playing Small and Medium Pairs in Seven-Card Stud
Perry Friedman
Dec 29, 2006

Playing Aces in PLO
Andrew Black
Dec 21, 2006

Playing in Australia
Mark Vos
Dec 15, 2006

Playing Mixed Games
Jennifer Harman
Dec 7, 2006

Pot-Size Manipulation
Gavin Smith
Nov 30, 2006

Betting out of Position
Gus Hansen
Nov 20, 2006

How a Pro Thinks Through a Hand
Team Full Tilt
Nov 13, 2006

Cash Equity at the Final Table
Rafe Furst
Nov 6, 2006

Getting Beyond Your Cards
Perry Friedman
Oct 30, 2006

The Mindset of a Winner
Kristy Gazes
Oct 23, 2006

Balancing Poker and Life
Clonie Gowen
Oct 16, 2006

Play More Pots
Erick Lindgren
Oct 9, 2006

Heads-Up vs Multi-Way Hands in Omaha Hi/Lo
Andy Bloch
Oct 3, 2006

Playing Big Slick in Deep Stack Tournaments
Paul Wolfe
Sept 25, 2006

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone
Ben Roberts
Sept 18, 2006

Playing Cap Games
Howard Lederer
Sept 11, 2006

From No-Limit to Limit
Richard Brodie
Sept 4, 2006

Check-Raising on Draws
Steve Brecher
August 28, 2006

Betting the River with Marginal Hands
Andy Bloch
August 21, 2006

Learning from Allen Cunningham
Jay Greenspan
August 14, 2006

Acknowledging Mistakes
Team Full Tilt
August 7, 2006

Playing the Main Event
Gus Hansen
July 31, 2006

Managing the Short Stack
Mark Vos
July 24, 2006

Playing Pot-Limit Tournaments
Rafe Furst
July 17, 2006

Red for a Day
Brian Koppelman
July 10, 2006

A Big Stack Mistake at the 2006 WSOP
Phil Gordon
July 3, 2006

Winning Poker - It's About More Than Money
Ben Roberts
June 26, 2006

Seventh Street Decisions in Seven-Stud
Keith Sexton
June 19, 2006

Big Blind Play in Limit Hold 'em
Jennifer Harman
June 12, 2006

Firing the Second Bullet
Greg "FBT" Mueller
June 5, 2006

Fourth Street Decisions in Seven Stud
Keith Sexton
May 29, 2006

Finding Your Inner Maniac
Greg "FBT" Mueller
May 22, 2006

Beware the Min Raise
Phil Gordon
May 15, 2006

Playing Bottom Two Pair
Rafe Furst
May 8, 2006

The Other Danger in Slow Playing
Howard Lederer
May 1, 2006

Why I Prefer Cash Games to Tournaments
Huckleberry Seed
April 24, 2006

Early Tournament Play
David Grey
April 17, 2006

Bad Position, Decent Cards
Howard Lederer
April 3, 2006

Inducing a Bluff
Layne Flack
March 27, 2006

Back to Basics
David Grey
March 20, 2006

Representing a Bluff
Huckleberry Seed
March 13, 2006

Viewer Beware
Howard Lederer
March 6, 2006

When Passive Plays
Chris Ferguson
February 27, 2006

Book Smarts vs. Table Smarts
Erik Seidel
February 20, 2006

Playing with John D'Agostino
Jay Greenspan
February 13, 2006

On Cavemen and Poker Players
Ben Roberts
February 6, 2006

Small-Pot Poker
Gavin Smith
January 30, 2006

Tips From Tunica
Andy Bloch
January 23, 2006

How Big a Bankroll?
Team Full Tilt
January 16, 2006

Thoughts on Omaha-8
Jennifer Harman
January 09, 2006

In Defense of the Call
Gavin Smith
January 02, 2006

Stepping Up, Stepping Down
Kristy Gazes
December 26, 2005

Playing a Big Draw in Limit Hold 'em
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson
December 19, 2005

Know Your (Table) Limits
Paul Wolfe
December 12, 2005

Getting Started in Stud-8
Jennifer Harman
December 05, 2005

What's Your Starting Hand Really Worth?
Steve Brecher
November 28, 2005

Big Slick: A Slippery Hand
Rafe Furst
November 21, 2005

Bad Cards or Bad Plays?
Team Full Tilt
November 14, 2005

Strategies for Short-Handed Limit Hold 'em
John D'Agostino
November 7, 2005

What I learned at the WSOP
Jay Greenspan
October 24, 2005

Back to the Drawing Board
Perry Friedman
October 17, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Green. Or Is It?
Team Full Tilt
October 10, 2005

Texture Isn't Just For Fabric
Phil Gordon
October 3, 2005

Know Your Opponent; Own Your Opponent
Paul Wolfe
September 26, 2005

How Bad are the Beats?
Steve Brecher
September 19, 2005

Third Street in Seven Stud
Perry Friedman
September 12, 2005

Flopping a Monster
Richard Brodie
September 6, 2005

Our Favorite Poker Books
Team Full Tilt
August 30, 2005

Holding On To Your Winnings
Aaron "GambleAB" Bartley
August 22, 2005

No-limit by the Numbers
Andy Bloch
August 15, 2005

Chip Sandwich
Phil Gordon
August 8, 2005

Sizing Up Your Opening Bet
Chris Ferguson
August 1, 2005

So You Wanna Go Pro
Rafe Furst
July 25, 2005

Dealer, Leave the Bets in Front of the Players.
Greg Mascio
July 18, 2005

Not Playing By The Book
Phil Gordon
July 11, 2005

Playing Two or More Tables at Once
Erick Lindgren
July 4, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 2
Chris Ferguson
June 27, 2005

How To Win At Tournament Poker, Part 1
Chris Ferguson
June 20, 2005

Specialize At Your Peril
Howard Lederer
June 13, 2005

Common Mistakes
Phil Gordon
June 6, 2005

Don't Play a Big Pot Unless You Have a Big Hand
John Juanda
May 30, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part II
Erick Lindgren
May 23, 2005

Ask And Ye Shall Receive Part 1
Erick Lindgren
May 16, 2005

Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Jennifer Harman
May 9, 2005

Keep Your Toolbox Well Stocked
Chris Ferguson
May 2, 2005

Why I Leave My Sunglasses And iPod At Home
Howard Lederer
April 25, 2005

In Pot Limit...
Clonie Gowen
April 11, 2005

The Script
Phil Gordon
April 4, 2005

Just A Few Things When Playing Razz
Jennifer Harman
March 28, 2005

A Way To Approximate The Odds
Clonie Gowen
March 21, 2005

Sit N Goes Made Easy
Howard Lederer
March 14, 2005

Taking on a Short-Handed No-Limit Game

John D'Agostino
October 31, 2005

Let's face it; nobody takes up poker because they love the idea of sitting idly at a table while folding for hours on end. But, in a full ring game with eight or nine other players holding cards, it's proper to spend most of your time folding because there's too great a chance that one of your opponents holds a powerful hand.

But, in short-handed play when only three or four people have cards, you're forced to open up. With the blinds coming around so frequently, you need to be playing and winning a number of pots just to stay even. And, with only a couple of opponents, you can be less concerned about running into a big starting hand. On most deals, everyone's holding trash.

Here's some advice for altering your strategy for short-handed no-limit cash games. Keep in mind that all the advice here is geared toward short-handed play while players have deep stacks. The advice given here won't work especially well in a tournament, or against players who come in with less than 100 times the big blind.

My love of short-handed play is one of the reasons I play online so much. It's rare to find a three- or four-handed table in a casino, but online, I can find short-handed games any time I want.

Pre-Flop Strategy

Three- or four-handed games are usually very aggressive, and I will never limp in. I open-raise or I fold. In a typical short-handed game, I'm raising one in every three or four hands when I'm not in the blinds. I recommend raising with every hand you'd raise with in a full ring game (big pair, AK, AQ). In addition, I raise with any pocket pair, including twos and threes. I'll also raise with suited-connectors, such as 4s-5s.

What might be something of a surprise is that I'm extremely wary of hands that seem to hold some promise. Hands like A-J, A-T and K-J, are hands that most know to treat cautiously in a full ring game, but I will often fold these in a short-handed game as well. Why? Well, these are hands that are likely to get me in a lot of trouble. For example, if I were to raise with K-J, and the flop came K-T-3, I'm either going to win a small pot, after betting my top pair and seeing my opponents fold, or I'm going to lose a much larger pot as my decent hand goes down in flames against two-pair, a set, or an out-kicked top-pair.

It's also important to note that A-J, A-T are just about useless against re-raises and must be mucked against most opponents. With a hand like 4s-5s, however, I can call a re-raise with hopes of catching a big flop (two-pair, trips) or a big draw, and then taking my opponents entire stack when I hit. If I miss a flop with a suited connector or manage to hit only bottom pair, I can easily fold to a flop bet. But if I call a re-raise with A-T and then catch top pair on a Ten-high flop, I may get in real trouble against a bigger pair. Or if I flop an Ace, I could be out-kicked.

Post-Flop Strategy

If a pre-flop raise from the cutoff or button has been called by one of the blinds, it's important to make the most of your positional advantage. Keep in mind that in a short-handed game, your opponent isn't likely to hold much of a hand and that even if he held something decent, chances are he missed the flop. (In hold 'em, unpaired hole cards will fail to make a pair on the flop about two-thirds of the time.)

So, if I missed the flop completely while holding something like 6-high, I'll almost always bet the flop. If I get called or check-raised, I'll happily shut down. But, I pick the pot up often enough to make the bet in this situation worthwhile.

If, however, I'm holding a decent Ace and miss the flop, I'll usually check. In a short-handed game, Ace-high can win at showdown, and taking a free card gives me a chance to hit my hand on the turn.

I'll also bet most of my draws on the flop. Often, I'll win the pot with a bet. Even if I'm called, I've got the added benefit of building a large pot. If I happened to hit my draw on the turn or the river, there's a good chance I'm going to take my opponent's stack.

Psychological Strategy

Short-handed play takes some getting used to. The pace is furious, forcing a lot of tough decisions in very short periods of time. The swings are far more dramatic than in a full ring game but, I think that after adjusting to the pace of the action, most players will come to love the excitement that accompanies short-handed play.

John D'Agostino