Adjusting to a wild home game (1 Viewer)

Schmendr1ck

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Over the past few months, I've been playing almost weekly in a pretty insane home game.

It's .25-.50 NLHE, $60 max at first but moves up to $100 max once half the table has at least $100 in their stacks. The players are all guys ages 25-35, making me the "elder statesman" of the game. I've known and played with the host for years, which is how I got invited in the first place, and I've helped him with pretty much all aspects of hosting. I feel like I fit well with the group in spite of being much older; I'm often hoarse by the end of the night from talking and laughing so much. I've also hosted this group a couple of times on the rare occasions when the regular host is unavailable.

The game is insanely loose, and plays more like shortstacked 1-2. This is like every low stakes home game ever, but amped up to 10x. Preflop raises are rarely less than 8-10x, hands are straddled more often than not, and limpers rarely fold pre, even to large three-bets. It is tough to see a cheap flop or a heads-up flop. Stacks go in frequently, and rebuys keep the host extremely busy. This past Friday night, we had to let cash play because the bank ran out of value chips. The big winner of the night sun-ran $100 up to a $1500+ cash out.

Some examples of recent hands I was involved in:
1) Straddle to $1, three limpers, BTN raises to $7, I 3! kings from SB to $28, and EVERYONE CALLS. Low dry flop, I c-bet shove for about half pot, everyone folds and I win.
2) Straddled to $16 (yes, .25/.50/1/2/4/8/16). First to act limps, MP limps, I rip about $80 with 99, first to act flats with more behind, and MP folds. First to act shows AA which holds.
3) Straddle to $1, one limper, MP raises to $6. I have TT on the button and 3! to $30, MP calls for just under half his stack. Flop Q53r, he checks, I shove, he calls and tables QTo.

When I first started playing this game, I was crushing it pretty hard. The last couple of months, though, I've been on a terrible downswing, losing $100-300 per session without a single win. Part of it is certainly runbad; I've lost a number of three figure pots where I've been a big favorite when stacks went in, and it seems like I've had more than my fair share of coolers. I even had to leave early a couple weeks ago when I had gotten sucked out on badly a couple times, I was tilted, and I knew that continuing to play was not a good idea.

In spite of the runbad, I can't help but also think that I'm not adjusting to the game properly. I've been playing pretty ABC: see cheap/multiway flops with speculative hands when possible, shovel money into the pot when I'm strong, fold the trash, and pick up orphaned pots.

So, how do you play against this kind of crowd? What adjustments to an ABC TAG strategy do you make to beat this kind of game? What kind of variance do you accept?
 
Over the past few months, I've been playing almost weekly in a pretty insane home game.

It's .25-.50 NLHE, $60 max at first but moves up to $100 max once half the table has at least $100 in their stacks. The players are all guys ages 25-35, making me the "elder statesman" of the game. I've known and played with the host for years, which is how I got invited in the first place, and I've helped him with pretty much all aspects of hosting. I feel like I fit well with the group in spite of being much older; I'm often hoarse by the end of the night from talking and laughing so much. I've also hosted this group a couple of times on the rare occasions when the regular host is unavailable.

The game is insanely loose, and plays more like shortstacked 1-2. This is like every low stakes home game ever, but amped up to 10x. Preflop raises are rarely less than 8-10x, hands are straddled more often than not, and limpers rarely fold pre, even to large three-bets. It is tough to see a cheap flop or a heads-up flop. Stacks go in frequently, and rebuys keep the host extremely busy. This past Friday night, we had to let cash play because the bank ran out of value chips. The big winner of the night sun-ran $100 up to a $1500+ cash out.

Some examples of recent hands I was involved in:
1) Straddle to $1, three limpers, BTN raises to $7, I 3! kings from SB to $28, and EVERYONE CALLS. Low dry flop, I c-bet shove for about half pot, everyone folds and I win.
2) Straddled to $16 (yes, .25/.50/1/2/4/8/16). First to act limps, MP limps, I rip about $80 with 99, first to act flats with more behind, and MP folds. First to act shows AA which holds.
3) Straddle to $1, one limper, MP raises to $6. I have TT on the button and 3! to $30, MP calls for just under half his stack. Flop Q53r, he checks, I shove, he calls and tables QTo.

When I first started playing this game, I was crushing it pretty hard. The last couple of months, though, I've been on a terrible downswing, losing $100-300 per session without a single win. Part of it is certainly runbad; I've lost a number of three figure pots where I've been a big favorite when stacks went in, and it seems like I've had more than my fair share of coolers. I even had to leave early a couple weeks ago when I had gotten sucked out on badly a couple times, I was tilted, and I knew that continuing to play was not a good idea.

In spite of the runbad, I can't help but also think that I'm not adjusting to the game properly. I've been playing pretty ABC: see cheap/multiway flops with speculative hands when possible, shovel money into the pot when I'm strong, fold the trash, and pick up orphaned pots.

So, how do you play against this kind of crowd? What adjustments to an ABC TAG strategy do you make to beat this kind of game? What kind of variance do you accept?
Gosh thats nuts, tough spots but Id be shoving less. It sounds like from your second to last paragraph that you're doing just fine adjusting and have had a bad swing. Very frustrating scenarios.

In these situations I like limping more. If more people are doing it, sure, see a cheaper flop knowing your raise wont scare them away and may bloat the pot against a nutjob lol. Obviously going to get sucked out on so I can fold to further aggression easier than usual, but Id definitely be seeing more flops than usual knowing some of them wont fold their straight when there's a completed flush is on the board.
 
If raising preflop isn't getting limpers to fold, then stop doing it. You have to maximize the number of hands you can see to completion against a group like this. I know raising preflop is good for pot building and I know that the pot building is nice when you hit, but a couple of misses or coolers and you and your empty wallet are out. Concern yourself more with staying alive instead of winning a massive pot.
 
If raising preflop isn't getting limpers to fold, then stop doing it. You have to maximize the number of hands you can see to completion against a group like this. I know raising preflop is good for pot building and I know that the pot building is nice when you hit, but a couple of misses or coolers and you and your empty wallet are out. Concern yourself more with staying alive instead of winning a massive pot.
Hmm. Tough to not raise with premiums - you want those calls, even if you’d prefer one caller to four. I’d agree that raising 99 pre might be a mistake in this game. But if you’re only raising premiums, you’re playing face up. Interesting.
 
If you have the stomach to keep enduring the swings, you will absolutely PRINT overall.

Smash their faces in with JJ+ and AK preflop. Aside from that, pretty easy to make elementary SPR decisions where your stack can go in on flops where you have top pair or better / awesome drawing equity.

If the action stays as good as it has been, take the losses as a necessary evil to keep the game afloat.

Just make all the hay you can when the sun is shining super bright!!!
 
I showed your post and my wife asked if you were talking about our home game. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:

Sounds like you’ve adjusted to the game well, especially if you’ve been crushing it save for the downswing. I do really well in my game and am happy for my losing sessions as the long-term losing players need a win every once in a while.

You didn’t talk about the specific players so if you’re not already focusing on this I’d be adjusting to the player types to advantage of their tendencies. Isolate bad players, open your drawing range and call down lighter against maniacs, etc.
 
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Hmm. Tough to not raise with premiums - you want those calls, even if you’d prefer one caller to four. I’d agree that raising 99 pre might be a mistake in this game. But if you’re only raising premiums, you’re playing face up. Interesting.
Agreed. I'm never limping or calling JJ+/AQ+ in this game, though occasional limp-3bets from OOP can get more in the pot when certain aggro players are in position. That's one adjustment I've made, as I almost never take that line in a "normal" game. I've also been working on adjusting bet sizing, but it's so variable from night to night. Some nights, a big 3! gets multiple callers (see the kings hand above), other nights a smaller one gets all folds.

In the specific case of the 99 hand, the pot was straddled to $16 and there were two limpers. So I've got a decent pair and an SPR of just over 1; I'm shoving and expecting to have to dodge overs if I get a call.
 
The really easy answer:

1) Try to see the flop as cheaply as possible. It's okay to limp with small/ medium pocket pairs, as well as suited connectors. You want to keep the pot small, because these hands don't perform well multi-way. However, if you're lucky to flop a set/ straight/ flush, you can stack villains for 300bb.

2) Don't worry about bluffing, especially multiway. If people are gambling, they're going to call too much. Don't worry about bluffing, unless you have a strong draw or are heads-up against one villain.

3) Go for max value with your made hands. Don't worry about trapping. Bet big and raise, to get as much money as possible by the river.
 
Regarding your hands:

1) I think you played this well. When there are big straddles and pre-flop raises, you're essentially playing 20bb poker. You have to be willing to stack off with marginal hands, because so much is already in the pot. You're pot committed with Kings, so I like the shove.

2) Technically, straddling is extremely minus EV. However, if everyone's doing it and it's in the spirit of the game, it's perfectly fine. Just wanted to point that out. I like your shove with 99. You're essentially 5 bb deep. You should be shoving pretty much any pair and any ace. (You might lookup some short-stack pre-flop charts to help with your range construction).

3) I like your play overall. However, the stack sizes are a little awkward. Personally, I would have 3-bet a little smaller preflop. It prevents him from being pot committed. If he 4-bets, you're in trouble. On the flop, I'm not sure if I like your shove. Your stack is very small, so you're not in a rush to get the money in. If you check, you keep his bluffs in and allow him to bluff into you. The advantage of betting is it might deny equity from A or K high hands. However, I would check the flop, then shove the turn.
 
If raising preflop isn't getting limpers to fold, then stop doing it.
I have moved away almost entirely from open-raising speculative hands like small pairs and suited connectors. I will limp/call with these hands in position against a big field (most hands) or when effective stacks are big enough to justify seeing a flop.

A big part of the value of raising these hands is fold equity, and that's not a thing in this game. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO:
 
Get them to play omaha! That’s the adjustment you need here.
We play Omaha bomb pots, and several players (including the host) have expressed interest in a low stakes learning game, so I plan to set one of those up very soon.

Friday night when we got down to four players, we ended up playing Omaha for a good while. I won back a significant chunk of my losses for the night, then gave it back with a couple of sets and a huge flopped combo draw that bricked out. But I had more fun in that last 90 minutes than I had all night playing Holdem. :tup:
 
You didn’t talk about the specific players so if you’re not already focusing on this I’d be adjusting to the player types to advantage of their tendencies. Isolate bad players, open your drawing range and call down lighter against maniacs, etc.
I definitely adjust to specific player tendencies if I can get heads-up, but it's more of a challenge in a multiway pot when you have aggro-maniacs, drunks, and calling stations going to the river. It's hard to get cheap cards on a draw, and there is no fold equity in semi-bluffing, so I just have to have a hand in those spots.
 
Hmm. Tough to not raise with premiums - you want those calls, even if you’d prefer one caller to four. I’d agree that raising 99 pre might be a mistake in this game. But if you’re only raising premiums, you’re playing face up. Interesting.
That's kinda the point though. You don't beat this crowd with two pair or sets. You beat this crowd with straights and flushes. You do that by keeping it cheap so you can afford to see more flops and draw more.
 
Sounds a lot like my home game. I switched to letting the maniacs that I couldn’t read well battle it out with the ones I could. I play more hands with them and do well enough.
 
That's kinda the point though. You don't beat this crowd with two pair or sets. You beat this crowd with straights and flushes. You do that by keeping it cheap so you can afford to see more flops and draw more.
I don't agree. You beat those guys with an overpair vs top pair, or TPTK vs QT, in a bloated pot. Or getting it allin pre as a 70/30 favorite. QK for example gets more valuable if players are constantly willing to risk their stack with Kx or Qx.

The 3 example hands I think you have played correctly. The straddled pot with 99s is just as it should be imo, but obviously a high variance play. That the first player is openlimping AA is just a cooler. You'll be flipping with a bunch of dead money in there a lot of the time, which is obviously a great spot.

I'd play AQ+, JJ+ hard preflop. Also happy to limp/raise early pos pre with premium. If crazy stradling (like to $16) I'll open my range accordingly and would shove a bit more, but keep in mind your low fold equity. I'd try to avoid stradling myself, or limit it to the smaller ones (don't wanna be the only guy never stradling in a game like this either).

You say your last games you've lost 100-300. That 1-3 buyins. Maybe an improvement would be to bring more money to this game, lol. If you can handle the variance without loosing your roll/tilting of course. But leaving this game early after loosing two buyins seems like very -EV.

Edit: spelling
 
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You say your last games you've lost 100-300. That 1-3 buyins. Maybe an improvement would be to bring more money to this game, lol. If you can handle the variance without loosing your roll/tilting of course. But leaving this game early after loosing two buyins seems like very -EV.
I never leave this game early, except for the one time I mentioned where I was tilted badly enough that I was not going to play well. I'm usually there chatting with the host until 20-30 minutes after everyone else has left.

And I typically walk in the door with 400-500. Most games I have a stop loss of 3 BI, but again I've adjusted for this game. I've had nights (plural) where I've been in the game for 300-400 and come back to break even or a small profit.
 
Last week, one of the guys walked into the game about an hour late and with a pocketful of hundos. He put many of them to use very early and was in the game for about 900-1000 after 90 minutes, sometimes busting, rebuying, and busting again in back to back hands.

This was unusual even for this game.

He ran his last rebuy up to about 600, then cashed out 250ish as one of the last to leave.
 
Last week, one of the guys walked into the game about an hour late and with a pocketful of hundos. He put many of them to use very early and was in the game for about 900-1000 after 90 minutes, sometimes busting, rebuying, and busting again in back to back hands.

This was unusual even for this game.

He ran his last rebuy up to about 600, then cashed out 250ish as one of the last to leave.
Seems like a worthwhile game to play in, but annoying when it doesn't go your way. Just need to be patient and get in there and gamble it up with your good hands.
 
I wasn't aware you had infiltrated my game lol.

My advice would be continue playing your (presumably) solid TAG/SLAG game with a few adjustments. Controlling the size of the pot is of critical importance in this game.
 
I call it playing the Brad Owen range. If they are playing loose, you don't beat them by playing looser. Be aggressive with your premium hands and cut way back on bluffing. From the examples you gave, they are playing trappy as it is, if they have you beat let them win a tiny pot instead of your stack. Go hard with TPTK type hands. The variance sucks because it's hard to tell when they have a random two pair, but many players will have betting pattern tells that you can exploit.
 
Seems like a worthwhile game to play in, but annoying when it doesn't go your way. Just need to be patient and get in there and gamble it up with your good hands.
For sure. It's just been not going my way pretty consistently lately, and I thought this was a good way to get a reality check on whether I'm adjusting correctly for the game.

It's been a brutal downswing, and I still wonder how much of it is run bad and how much is play bad.
 
It's been a brutal downswing, and I still wonder how much of it is run bad and how much is play bad.
Based on what you said, it sounds like you’re doing the right things. But I know that for me, when I try to adjust my play to exploit crazy players, I tend to develop bad habits quickly.
 
For sure. It's just been not going my way pretty consistently lately, and I thought this was a good way to get a reality check on whether I'm adjusting correctly for the game.

It's been a brutal downswing, and I still wonder how much of it is run bad and how much is play bad.

Anytime I'm all-in with more cards to come, and I see I'm ahead currently, I've already won in my mind. I don't EXPECT to be drawn out on, but if it does happen, thems the breaks.

To me, as long as that mental toughness is still present and my wallet has more bullets to fire, I'm still winning in the game despite if I'm up or down on a session.
 

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