2-10 spread limit pre-flop strategy - baby pairs.

Stu PidassoStu Pidasso Red Chipper Posts: 50
edited March 2015 in General Concepts
I'm trying to build a default strategy for the games spread in my local cardroom. Unfortunately there isn't much information online on my local variant....so I guess I am on my own. I'm hoping you good people can help me out.

The game in my local card room is $2-$10 spread limit with a kill(limits double to $4-$20 when a "Kill" is in effect). This means that you may bet or raise anything between $2-$10 on every street. Blinds are $1 and $2. Typically when I play a hand, I almost always open with a raise to $10 and play it as if it is just $10 fixed limit on every street. However there are often opportunities to limp into a hand for $2 and many people who do open raise, do so for amounts less than $10. You can see a flop calling just one raise for $4,$5,$6 etc.....up to $12. Some games, it is hardly ever raised before the flop or raised to only small amounts. In other games you can pretty much always expect a full raise before the flop.....just depends on who is at the table at the time.

How and when would you play baby pairs in this game? I define baby pairs as 22-66.


  • BotswanaNickBotswanaNick Red Chipper Posts: 696 ✭✭✭
    I have played in that type of spread limit game before a few times (is that Washington State?), and you are right that there is a definite lack of information out there because it such a rare game. But we can treat that as an opportunity to create a better strategy that crushes our opponents, since we can assume very few are adjusting appropriately.

    Sadly, I am not the person to construct this strategy, because I dont play limit and I think you are correct, post-flop play should be much closer to limit than no-limit. But I can at least take a stab at your specific question regarding baby pairs. My suspicion is that baby pairs have less value in this game than then do in either normal limit OR no limit games. The reason is that pre-flop, our opponents can force us to take much worse price to see a flop than in limit, but post flop, we cannot realize nearly as large implied odds when we hit our sets as we can in no-limit, because the betting is so capped on late streets.

    Let's say we are in middle position facing a $10 raise from a good player. If we believe we will rarely realize any equity unless we hit a set (a pretty good assumption I think), then we have to average an absolute minimum of ~ $90 dollar pot when we hit our set. If we go heads up to the flop, its not even possible to build a pot that big except in extreme circumstances, and remember our opponents will sometimes miss the flop and fold to our flop raise or shut down on the turn or river. If we can count on the calling train to kick in after our call (ie if it is common to have 4 or 5 other players call behind), this certainly improves our implied odds, but I think it will be rare to find a game where calling a max raise is profitable. As for opening to $10, you also can't count on enough implied odds to average huge pots when you hit a set, so you will have to rely on fold equity from cbets and other situations to make up for this. My guess is, that raising $10 from early or middle position will not be profitable in a vacuum. If I wanted to open raise these hands, I would only do so from late position when folded to.

    As for limping (either open-limping or over-limping), I think if you are playing in a very limpy game (common to have 3-6 players limp preflop, rare to face a large raise), then limping purely as a set mine will most likely be profitable in a vacuum. But the more frequently people are raising, and the lower the average number of players seeing the flop, the less profitable your limp becomes, and my suspicion is that it wouldnt take too much for it to become -EV. Also, remember that this isn't occurring in a vacuum, but as part of your overall strategy. So if you are only limping baby pairs, then any half-way observant players will eventually recognize what you are doing and take advantage by folding more often post flop when you show interest.

    Just my thoughts! I think the main takeaway is that these baby pairs will be significantly less profitable than they are in no-limit, and to a lesser extent regular limit as well. Plan accordingly!
  • Stu PidassoStu Pidasso Red Chipper Posts: 50
    Thanks for the awesome post Nick. So you think when I play baby pairs I should be shooting for an end pot that is at least 9X my initial cost to see the flop? So for instance, suppose there is a live straddle for $4. UTG+1 raises to $6 and UTG+2 caps it at $8. I am on the button with pocket 2s. I should not call unless I expect the end pot to be at least $72?

    This is kind of the information I am looking for....in this kind of game what kind of end pot as a multiple of intial cost to see the flop should I be looking for? 9x? 11x? 20x?

    Typically when ever I first sit down at a table my first action is to ask for a seat change button so that I might move to a seat where the players on my left are passive and the players on my right are the aggressive ones.....which is probably the most +EV play I make in the game the whole night. Its all down hill from the seat change. :)
  • BotswanaNickBotswanaNick Red Chipper Posts: 696 ✭✭✭
    lol, yeah seat changes can be extremely profitable. Again, I will reiterate that I am a no-limit player, but yes, we flop a set roughly 1 out of 8 tries on average, so our average pot size must equal at least 8x our initial investment (if we always give up when we miss). This is the base of the often reported 10x rule, where people often claim you need (in no limit) a stack size 10x the size of the your initial investment to profitably set-mine. But as Andrew Brokos of thinking poker often stresses, this underestimates how much you really need in implied odds. Because many pots will not grow to max size (for example if your opponent misses flop and gives up after flop), Brokos recommends you should aim for a max win closer to 20x in order to average 10x. Regardless of the exact numbers, the take home message is that even in no-limit, it is easy to overestimate your implied odds for set mining, and this could be even more true for (spread) limit.

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