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6-max Texas Limit Holdem: Pre-Flop Play
Position is even more important in 6-max play than in a normal full ring game. The 6-max variation is generally played more aggressively and the battle for control starts right from the beginning. You will encounter much less limping in because the pot odds for speculative hands are not likely to be there.
Playing from the under the gun position (UTG), you will be in a raise or fold situation. Because of the smaller number of opponents and your tight table image, you will sometimes win the pot right there. Only play the strongest hands from the first position. Expect to be folding often. If you notice an opponent constantly limping in early that's an indication of a weak 6-max player.
In the next position (EP2), you should play much the same. Only open with very strong hands and open with a raise. Be leery of cold calling an open raise from the UTG player. If the UTG limps in you have the option of 3-betting in an attempt to isolate the hand into a heads up match in which you would have position. Be aggressive and remember that a fold is also a weapon.
Next we move to the cutoff position. We are now in late position and can take more advantage of the information we've learned so far. How many people are in? Has there been a raise? If no one is yet in, we are in a raise or fold situation. A raise has the potential to cause the button to fold thereby giving us the best position for the rest of the hand. If a player or two has limped in ahead of you and you want to play, you have a decision to make. Tend to raise with the stronger hands. Mix it up a bit with more marginal hands depending upon what type of player you are against. If there is a raise in front of you be wary of just cold calling. Fold most hands but consider 3-betting if you have a strong starting hand or if the raiser has loose starting hand requirements. A 3-bet may isolate you versus the raiser.
When you are on the button the same advice applies as in the cutoff position. The only difference is that you are in an even better position and are guaranteed to act last for the rest of the hand. If it's folded to you, you are up against two random hands in the blinds. Your raise first in will be viewed as a possible blind steal so you may get plenty of action from players who always defend their blinds.
In the small blind with callers, it's only half a small bet more to limp in. You can take a look with anything decent. Suited cards and connectors are playable here. If you get your flop it could be big. Fold quickly if you don't hit your flop.
In the large blind, be wary of a late steal attempt. It is important to know your opponent in this situation. Against a rock, the raise may well be legitimate. But against the habitual blind stealer, you may need to play back at him.
This should give you an outline of pre-flop play in the 6-max game. 6-max is more player dependant than full ring. Sometimes you need to play a situation normally. At other times you need to play opposite of what is expected. Each table has it's own dymanic. With time and experience, you should be able to develop the skills necessary to win at this enjoyable variation of Texas Limit Holdem.
Chip Westley operates Home Run Poker ( http://www.homerunpoker.blogspot.com ) a web community that serves as a place for baseball fans who like to play poker to gather, meet one another, and create private table games with other members of the community.
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