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FR Zoom Approach: Keep it Simple, Keep it Safe

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FR Zoom Approach: Keep it Simple, Keep it Safe - Mon Apr 08, 2013, 07:28 AM
(#1)
Roland GTX's Avatar
Since: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,905
Most of this material is taken from my March Update Blog.

I play 25NL Zoom and have been profitable all year. I have had several questions about my stats and style, and wanted to share the basics of my approach. I am no expert and am fairly new to cash tabling. As a result, I tend to play very safe. I prefer a low risk approach the focuses on minimizing my losses. The profit seems to take care of itself.

I have used this style at 2NL up through 50NL and it seems to work. Pretty much everything I know about cash gaming has been learned the last 6 months through playing, reviewing and ,most importantly, taking to heart everything that the real experts here at PSO have taught me. In particular, Dave has mentored me the whole time and Gareth has been an inpiration showing me what can be achieved. There are some great players and great teachers here!

The stats tell most of the story. So, here are my March numbers for 25NL FR Zoom.



When usure, fold!
The better I become at postflop play, the wider an opening range I am using preflop. When I first started Zooming I was a Rock playing about 10% of my hands. I slowly opened my range becoming ABC playing about 12%. Now, I am verging on being a TAG player playing about 14%. Regardless, I still stick to my same basic principles.

Roland's Zoom approach
I look for spots that offer a clear line, rather than simply a theoretical +ev spot.

For example, let’s say I’m in the big blind. It folds around to a reg who raises from the btn and a weaker player calls from the sb. I will fold a hand such as A9o. I may well have the best hand preflop, but I find A9o very difficult to play post flop with such a weak kicker. Rather than getting involved in an unclear situation, I just fold.

If I had a hand such as A5s, I would call in this spot and treat it as a speculative hand. The straight and flush possibilities make this much hand much easier for me to play than the A9o hand, even though the A9 hand is actually “stronger”. If I get a good draw great, I’ll play aggressively. If I flop a pair I might bet, but I won’t risk too much of my stack with “just a pair”, whether it be the A or the 5 that has hit.

If I have a hand such as A10s or AJs+, I am now more apt to 3-bet preflop. (Note 3-betting or flatting is a bit villain dependant.) This usually wins the hand, but again, I get very careful postflop if I get called. The advantage of 3-betting is that it usually gets at least one opponent to fold. Playing post flop in a read based situation is much easier against one opponent than against multiple.

I take the same approach in hands that I open. Let’s say I’m in the CO and it folds around to me. I fold hands such as A9o because I find them difficult to play post flop.

Whereas, I would open with a hand such as 67s. This is a good example of where my opening range is widening. A few months ago I would have wanted 10Js to open from the CO. As I improve my postflop play, primarily through my ranging abilities, I can confidently play a wider range of hands from this position.

In other words, I try to play hands that have the potential for more than just top pair, or high card. I want to play spots where I can hit a set, a straight or a flush because these are the spots where I can confidently play for stacks.

Hitting a pair, but no draws, as would always be the case with A9o, still gives me a plan B to fall back on, but it is not my main line. I focus on pot control when this happens.
This is a general description of my overall approach to cash tables (and all Omaha games...) However, I found I needed to add in two extra elements before my style moved from break even to consistantly profitable: opponent stack sizes and stats.

I try to avoid playing against short stacks. They tend to get all in too quickly. This leads to too many all in spots than I am comfortable. Again, I sacrifice, potentially +ev spots by doing this. Yet, I don’t care for all the variance inherent in these 60/40 spots. I prefer to take a safer route. On the other hand, I will gladly call a preflop UTG raise from a deep stacked Rock if I’m holding a speculative hand, because the implied odds are so good if I hit.

Secondly, opponent stats can have a big impact on the hands I play AND how I choose to play them. For example, I will fold my 67s mentioned above if one of the blinds has a highl 3-bet%. On the other hand, I will steal from the sb with ATC against a nitty bb.

All in all this approach seems to be working for me. Yet, if I get overly aggressive, I can still lose a stack or two quite fast. I need to constantly work on improving my game (allowing me to play more hands) while staying on the sweet spot I seem to have found. This has not been very easy, but it has been very fun!

In addition, I tend to follow a few "Golden Rules":
1. Never call an all postflop in with "Just a pair". Yes, this includes AA.
2. Never call a 3-bet out of position. 4-betting or folding is better.
3. 3-bets are rarely bluffs. Give the villain credit for a very strong hand. 3-bets from the blinds vs a btn raise are an exception here. I fold most hands to 3-bets.
4. Position is obviously important

Obviously I am giving up a number of +ev spots and probably folding the best hand more than most. However, this approach ensures that when I do get to the showdown with a big pot, I usually have the best hand.

Tight is definately right at the microstakes! As Dave so often says, there is no need to get fancy. Be patient, wait for playable hands and let the opponents make the mistakes. When you hit a set, a straight, a flush or better, just keep betting/raising and take them to value town!

This is just an overview of my style. If you have spesific questions just ask. If you see spots where I can improve please comment. And if you have other ideas, chime in!

I hope this helps and good luck on Zoom!

Roland GTX
 
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Mon Apr 08, 2013, 08:27 AM
(#2)
ArtySmokesPS's Avatar
Since: Oct 2011
Posts: 7,324
Great post! I'll be reiterating some of your gold rules in my own series of blog articles.


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Mon Apr 08, 2013, 09:24 AM
(#3)
Roland GTX's Avatar
Since: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,905
Quote:
Originally Posted by ArtySmokesPS View Post
Great post! I'll be reiterating some of your gold rules in my own series of blog articles.
Thanks, feel free to use what you want Arty! I surely learned them from someone else (I think Dave talks about overvaluing a hand) and I've already stolen a few phrases from your stuff

Seriously though, just learning to actually stick to Rule Nr 1 had a huge impact on my game, and my results. Firstly, it minimized my losses considerably. Secondly, it got me looking for spots that offered more than just TPTK. I no longer view getting dealt AKs, or big pairs as the nuts like I often did in turbo tourney play. Now, I view them as great starting hands that I gladly raise for value, but I don't go bananas until I actually do have the nuts post flop, with a set, straight, flush etc.

Roland GTX
 
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Mon Apr 08, 2013, 08:05 PM
(#4)
wikked76's Avatar
Since: Jan 2012
Posts: 385
great post Greg
 
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Mon Apr 08, 2013, 10:27 PM
(#5)
joy7108's Avatar
Since: Jul 2010
Posts: 2,284
Great post, lots of interesting ideas. One of my golden rules is folding those small pairs in early position, they are nothing but trouble (tourney POV).



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Tue Apr 09, 2013, 03:18 AM
(#6)
Roland GTX's Avatar
Since: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,905
Quote:
Originally Posted by joy7108 View Post
Great post, lots of interesting ideas. One of my golden rules is folding those small pairs in early position, they are nothing but trouble (tourney POV).

Hey Joy, on a normal full ring table I would agree. I used to open 88+. Zoom seems to be diffent though, especially at 25NL where you get a few less callers than you do at the lower stakes. Most people at 25NL are really tight from ep, especially utg. Note, I open 4x from utg which seems to discourage action as well.

I get quite a few folds. Note though, I used to really struggle whenever I got called. Now I have gotten better at semi-bluffing against a single opp, and/or recognizing when to just let the hand go. Plus, when I spike a set of 2s with my utg raise, I usually get paid since nobody is expecting a nit like me to open utg with a hand like that. This works great against regs who flat me from the btn. Also, if I get 3-bet, I fold pretty much everything except KK and AA against most villains. All in all this has been a profitable line for me from ep.

Moreover, I noticed that before when I opened with a hand like 88+, that I still had to deal with overcards on the flop. Once I got fairly decent at doing this (after my training session with Dave), I realized I could just as easily open with 22 as I could with 1010.

Statwize, I still appear to be very tight from EP. Thus, regs with a ton of stats on me will still see that I have a pretty tight range from that position. Even if they know I can open with 22, my range is still weighted toward the top end of my opening hands.

I wouldn't recommend blindly 4x-ing any pp until you are comfortable with the post flop issues though. But, like I said, on full ring Zoom, utg raises get respect most of the time. So, when an A or K comes on the flop, it is easy to play as if I were holding AK, KK or AA. If the villain plays back then I usually am done putting money in the hand unless I improve or have a VERY strong read.

Finally, I could use the same logic as an arguement to widen my AQ+ range from EP. However, I just am not comfortable enough playing AJ, A10 type of hands postflop yet.

GL at the tables!

Roland GTX
 
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Tue Apr 09, 2013, 07:47 AM
(#7)
ArtySmokesPS's Avatar
Since: Oct 2011
Posts: 7,324
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roland GTX View Post
Also, if I get 3-bet, I fold pretty much everything except KK and AA against most villains.
This is a crucial money-saving tip.
Most players are usually thinking about how to maximise their profits and don't give much thought to how making tight folds impacts their bottom line.
Any half-decent player knows that playing a hand out of position without the initiative is neither fun, nor profitable, but nearly everyone playing microstakes leaks money by doing this. In a 3-bet pot, the money being wagered is larger, so any mistake you make will be more costly.

Typical example:
Hero raises TT UTG. Unknown player on the button 3-bets. Hero's thought process is "Dammit, I got 3-bet. Villain might have aces or kings, but I'm beating AK. My hand is too weak to 4-bet, but it's too strong to fold" so he calls. This is a huge leak. It doesn't matter that TT is beating AK. If you call, you're going to miss the flop pretty often, and villain is going to c-bet his entire range, so you'll check-fold. Instead of losing 3-4bb (your open raise), you lose 9-12bb from calling the 3-bet.

So my advice to newbs and breakeven players is this: If you're in early position (particularly UTG) in a full ring game and you get 3-bet by anyone but a maniac, then folding QQ-88, AQ/AK will save you a lot of money. Folding will also prevent you getting into tricky spots post-flop.
If you're considering calling a 3-bet oop, then don't. Just fold!

EDIT: One exception: If stacks are very deep and you have a pocket pair, then you can call and go set-mining. (Yes, set-mining with QQ. Don't go crazy if you only flop an overpair, as you'll get valueowned by KK+.)


Bracelet Winner

Last edited by ArtySmokesPS; Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 07:50 AM..
 
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Wed Apr 10, 2013, 01:06 AM
(#8)
RockerguyAA's Avatar
Since: Feb 2011
Posts: 1,089
BronzeStar
Great post Roland! I enjoyed reading it quite a bit. I would like to share some of my opinions/ideas on your post:

I agree with a lot of what you said. Some very good micros advice in my opinion. I've play a couple hundred thousand hands at 2NL/4NL/5NL over the last few years and you are making a lot of sense to me. I really like the point about not shying away from folding. The absolute #1 mistake microstakes players make is not folding often enough! You have to be prepared to fold any hand less than the nuts if the situation seems to suggest that is the best move. Calling 3-bets in general, but most importantly out of position, is very often the worst option available. Even with hands that often warrant calling a 3-bet such as TT-QQ and AQs will often lead to very tough situations post-flop.

I agree with your #1 golden rule except I would like to add an addition to it. 'Never call an all-in post-flop with just a pair' without a very specific read on your opponent. There are definitely some situations where getting all-in with just a pair can be profitable, but they are rare. You have to have some very strong evidence to back up your decision to make such a call. I believe a decent chunk of my profits this year has actually come from making such calls. Some of our more maniacal villains like to make these very big mistakes and if you can find a good time to catch them your reward will often be their entire stack.

Agree 110% with the point that you and Dave made to avoid playing fancy at microstakes. It is completely not necessary at these stakes and will indeed prove very costly. I learned this the hard way from time to time, most recently with my shot at 10NL. I saw that my opponents were playing a bit more aggressive than what I was used to. I made the assumption that they were playing at a higher (fancier) level so I tried to adjust by playing a bit fancier myself. It quickly cost me a ton and ended my 10NL shot in disaster. What I realized a little too late was that even though my opponents were playing more aggressive, they were not playing fancy. Their decision making was still very much like the opponents at the lower stakes. I should have continued to play much more ABC post-flop. The universal truth that microstakes playing call too often still held true.

Poker is all about accumillating value. Every +EV move you make creates value for you. This value, over time, manifests itself as profit. Even so, if taking advantage of every minimally +EV spot causes your luck and bankroll to swing wildly then forgoing it for more steady profits seems perfectly reasonable to me. You can gain lots of value anyways so keeping it simple will still prove very productive and profitable.
 
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Wed Apr 10, 2013, 02:44 AM
(#9)
Roland GTX's Avatar
Since: Jan 2012
Posts: 1,905
Good Stuff Rockerguy!

You are right about modifying "Never call a postflop all in with just a pair." I assumed experienced players know that "If A, then do B" doesn't work for all situations. I do believe though that beginners and losing players will improve their results by following the rule until they truly understand when to make exceptions.

Regarding experienced players, I actually think most know all this stuff inside and out. However, one of the major weaknesses is that many players have difficulties being disciplined enough to actually apply the guidelines when playing. As you said, most people don't fold enough. I would add to the sentence ... "even though they know they ought too." We have all been in spots where we are dealt AA, know we are beat on the flop, yet just can't let the hand go. Or we get frustrated because we are getting crappy cards and start playing weaker opening hands than we ought to. I still find myself hitting the call button with QQ when I get 3-bet oop.

Keep posting Rockerguy. I've been reading many of your post lately and you are making some great points - thanks!

Roland GTX

Last edited by Roland GTX; Thu Apr 11, 2013 at 12:44 PM..
 
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Thu Apr 11, 2013, 12:04 PM
(#10)
Low Rated's Avatar
Since: Mar 2012
Posts: 114
Hey Roland GTX.

This thread is pretty cool! I learned some new stuff that has helped keep my profit high and minimize my losses. I actually wrote down your "Roland Golden Rules", they are probably the best path a player should follow if he wants to turn profit.

I would like to address tilt. Not regular tilt, I mean "Zoom Tilt". Zoom tilt as I refer to it is (imo) the point when you stop focusing on making profit from good situations and instead focus only on playing strong hands. This is probably the easiest mistake to make in Zoom poker, I will admit that that is how I thought Zoom was supposed to be approached in my earlier session atempts. This is a sure fire way to lose money, thinking like this lures you into bad situations.

Zoom poker is full of different players, 96% of them unknowns - maybe 100%. You do not have any information on them, their tendencies, their ranges or their playstyles. The only information you do have is their stack sizes and the amout of Zoom tables they are playing, not much to go on. Because of this, it is best to put youself in the best spot to win the hand with maximum profit. I'm not suggesting you go folding AK UTG but when it gets 3-bet/4-bet from players in late position don't go calling into that madness hoping to make a hand (you probably shouldn't be doing this in any case).

At times I fall in love with the fast fold button looking for the AK's. Playing like this causes me to make bad decisions and hurts my overall profit. When I find myself doing these things I end the Zoom session and continue my session at a regular 6 Max table. I find that switiching back to a more relaxed, slower paced game where I can make informed decisions keeps things in perspective. Rather than waste time playing for mediocre profit or a break even session I switch to a game I can win comfortably (and profitably) which gives me confidence for when I resume Zoom in another session. I don't really know if this happens to anyone else but if it does that's what I suggest.

GL at the (Zoom) Tables!
 
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Thu Jul 17, 2014, 04:07 AM
(#11)
awmm83's Avatar
Since: May 2013
Posts: 142
Folding Aces to an optimal spr sounds terrible. Eek.
 
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Thu Jul 17, 2014, 05:54 AM
(#12)
pullin1988's Avatar
Since: Apr 2013
Posts: 717
Hi Roland, (Cheers awmm83 form bumping the thread)

Is this approach still going well for you?

Cheers,

Matt
 

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