Playing in other Non-Standard Games

Playing in High Limit Games

There are several differences in play as you move to higher limits. Not only are the aents proportionately larger (sometimes much larger), but also many of your opponents will play quite well. In addition, the tends to be faster and more aggressive.

For instance, the $15-$ 30 has a $2.00 ante. The $30-$6- game with a $5 ante would be like the $15-$ 30 has a $2.50 ante. The $50-$100 game with a $10 ante would be like the $15-$30 game with a $ 3 ante. And the $100- $200 game with a $25 ante would be like a $ 15-$ 30 game with a $ 3.75 ante.

Taking the extreme case of the $ 100-$200 game that has a $25 ante and a $25 bring-in, it would be correct to come in for $25 with many hands if you knew the bet would not be raised. Because it is correct to call the $25 bring-in with numerous hands, it becomes important not to let other people do it. Therefore, you have to raise with many hands that you may think are only worth calling, especially if no one else is in yet.

If someone else raises and he is (correctly ) raising with many hands, if you have a decent hand that you are going to play, you usually should reraise. Here’s an example. The player on your right raises with an ace up and you have:


This is almost an automatic reraese. Even if you knew your obbonent had two aces, reraising with your pair of queens would be only a slightly bad play. This is because by reraising, you at least get a chance to play heads-up and be only a little more than a 2-to-1 dog. If your opponent does not have aces, failing to reraise is an absolutely terrible play. Therefore, reraising is either slightly wrong or tremendously right.

So with this big ante, when other people know how to play and thus raise a lot, you must do the same. That is, raise and reraise often if these bets knock people out. On the other hand, if your raise or reraise probably won’t have the desired effect, then you might be better off calling and look to get your raise in on a later street. For example, if an ace raises, a six calls, a nine calls, and a four calls, and you have two queens, it is doubtful that you can eliminate anyone. In this situation, it is better just to call. Now you may have an opportunity to knock someone out on fifth poker street.

To continue with this example, suppose the player with the ace up has started with a three-flush, and on fourth street he makes a small pair. If on fifth street he is still high on board and checks after catching a blank, and someone between you and him bets, your raise should get him to fld, and you will usually want him to do so even though you have the better hand.

Also, since the pots get so big, semi-bluffing should be done less, as you have virtually no chance of winning the pot. Betting your threatening board in the hope that you might catch another good card, which will make your opponent fold, also should be done less if you don’t think you have the best hand.

In addition, as the pots get big and someone bets, not only on third street but on the later streets as well, you constantly have to raise to knock people out, even though you might not think you have the best hand. This is because you are likely to be in a situation where a raise changes your chances of winning from, let’s say, 25 percent to 35 percent. Because of the large pots, this small increase in winning makes raising worthwhile even though it will cost you extra money more often than not.

Another thing to keep in mind is that high-limit seven card stud is a highly fluctuating game. This means that even if you play well at these limits, to ensure survival, you need a big bankroll. (Many high limit stud players refer to their game as a “roller coaster ride.” They have good reason to make this statement.)

One skill that is especially needed in a high-limit game is the ability to put your mind into the heads of your opponents and know what they are thinking. (See the section on “Psychology” later in this book and in The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky.)

Basically, high-limit poker is a game of trying to knock people out. This often means raising with hands that may not seem like they are worth a raise; these raises are necessary, as you might make something that winds up winning the pot because you have eliminated opponents.

The extra bets that you can win or save (by not raising players out) are almost never as important as increasing your chances of having the best hand when all the cards are out. And if worrying about saving one or two bets keeps you from raising, then you ought not to be playing in these games at all.