Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My first impressions of 6 max

When Mike first got me the banner, I didn't realize how appropriate the slogan was. "An intimate look at one man's downward spiral into poker degeneracy." In looking at my recent posts where I went from a points slut to a points whore and logging in crazy amount of hands with little to no time spared for anything else besides work, it's so true it's almost scary...

To boot, my nonpoker playing friend hit me with this email... "I read your blog ( I think it was the 1/4 post) and realized that you're going to be busy this month. You need to show up to basketball this Wednesday since I know we will not have LA and Josh for this game. And no, you won't get any points besides the ones during the game." touché

Amazingly, even in the midst of my poker degeneracy, I find time to do some stuff that's actually healthy for my body... like working out. I did go to the YMCA last night because as you recall, there are points involved there as well. I earn points for every pound I lift and after I accumulate certain amount of points, I get cool stuff like key chains and water bottles... And if there's one other vice aside from poker, it would be playing basketball. I still play ball on Tuesday and Friday mornings and Wednesday night's county league b-ball will be no exception.

Well, having said all that, I am in the midst of my total degeneracy so let me get the post back to poker, just as I have intended. I had a few people mention to me that they would be interested in my take of 6 max and the differences between 6 max and full ring cash games. So, I tried to give it some thought and keep in mind that this observation is based on a very small sample of hands. Sure, I've been logging in a lot of time and tables and hands over the past week but it's only been a week... For more posts about 6 max, you're better off going to the more known 6 max abusers... I think you know who they are.

Based on what I've seen however, the biggest difference is the one you have probably heard from everyone else. The game is a lot looser. And generally, more aggressive. And now, I remember why it took me a long time to venture over to 6 max. Loose aggressive style generally seems to be the successful style for a lot of NLHE players. And though I consider myself to be fairly aggressive, in my mind, I was still picturing myself as the pre-blog RecessRampage. I wasn't nearly as loose and aggressive as I am today and so I thought, why venture over to the tables where the players are playing looser and more aggressive (what I understood as winning poker)? But, if that's what's stopping some of you from moving to 6 max, let me see if I can clarify what this whole "looser and more aggressive" translates into.

Now even in 6 max, you still run into a similar mix of players that you see in full ring. There are some that are over the top aggressive, others who are solidly aggressive, and others who are tight nits. Except I think the ratio is heavily skewed towards looser players rather than nits. But don't let this scare you. As a matter of fact, this should make you excited. Your big hands tend to get paid off and because the table is looser, you can play more hands. There's also a lot of "mind games" that I think are played.

Generally, here are some things from the 6 max tables that I think are critical. First and foremost, be aggressive. There's not much value for being passive. Especially if you are out of position. I know pot control is important but when everyone is playing shittier cards than usual, personally, I'm not seeing much value in controlling the pot size. If I have to sacrifice aggression for pot control, I've been abandoning the latter so far. For example, let's say you have AQ in the BB and a button raises you. In my mind, this is an automatic reraise. If you simply call, you're going to have to play out of position against a more-often-than-not aggressive opponent. Unless you are willing to make a play on the flop or hoping to hit the flop, there's not much value in calling. At least if you repop it preflop, you're taking control of the aggression and in a 6 max game, so far, I think that's more important.

Another key thing in that above example is the concept of a resteal in tournaments. In other words, in a cash game, there's really not much value in stealing the blinds, aside from setting the image. In other words, at a 2-4NL table, a pot sized preflop raise is $14. So, you're betting $14 to win $6. Not much value there unless you really have a hand. Now, having said that, if you are out of position and someone raises you to $14 and you're in the BB, instead of calling the additional $10 and hoping to hit, you could repop it to 3x more to $42 and hope to take down the now $20 pot, and at the same time, establishing the image that you're not gonna get run over and that if they want to try to steal your blinds, they better be ready for some resistance.

Above example though, is a fairly common move from a lot of players. So, the next point would be to not back down from the reraises. Especially if you have position on the player and you know that the player who just reraised you is capable of making plays like that. Because just like in the above example, you don't want to look like the guy who would raise in late position but fold to a reraise. In other words, in many different levels, you are playing mind games with each other and feeling out how much aggression your opponent can take and how much aggression your opponent thinks you can take.

Since this post is becoming super long, I'm gonna break this post up into several installments. I'll post some hands highlighting some of the things in 6max. But as of right now I think the above paragraphs certainly summarize my thoughts on 6 max. Now, don't get me wrong. That's not to say that there aren't spots for just calling. But if you want to get a glimpse of what solid, aggressive players do, check out this post by cmitch and also, read through the comments. Here are the links to the 2 part posts that cmitch did. Initial post and follow up post.


kazu said...


Mike Maloney said...

mor plz.

Chad C said...

I think Full Tilt is the biggest winner of 6-max. They make so much more rake because of the sheer speed of 6-max. 6-Max can also hurt players IMO who are underfunded for the games that they are playing. When you run bad in 6-max you run REAL bad! 6-max MTTs are further dumbing down NLHE Lottery MTTs as are KOs. Now people play even crazier and worse, who ever thought that was possible?

cmitch said...

Good Post - looking forward to the 2nd part.

Are you using a HUD when you are playing? PAHUD? Holdem Manager? Real Time HUD?

I've just starting messing around with Holdem Manager and the HUD looks awesome. Especially, because it shows how often opponents 3 bet. You can also go into the details and see what hands that they 3 bet with, how often they raise in each pos, etc, etc, etc.

smokkee said...

good take on 6-max. whoever flinches 1st loses.

i only play full ring for some of the reasons Chad mentioned. 6-max has a higher variance and the rake can get rediculous.

Full Tilt should come up with 4-max tables so they could really kill in rake.

Sia said...

Nice post. Gives me some insight on why i've gotten worked in my last few 6 max runs. Keep it coming.


Sia said...

Oh, and I agree with everything Kazu said.