The majority of my time spent at the limit hold’em table is at the 8-16 game. I play 8-16 perhaps 75% of the time, with the other 25% split between the 6-12 and 15-30 games. There is money to be made at the 15-30 game, but I find the competition far easier at the 8-16 table. If only I could get 8-16 players to play for 15-30 stakes. But therein is the point of this blog: I have come to realize that a typical 8-16 player has a very different demeanor than your average 15-30 player.
The average person at an 8-16 game is generally easy-going, though not very observant. He likes to gamble, create large pots and play very aggressively. The aggression aides his game, as he loves deception; however, the lack of observational skills cost him dearly in the long run. The 8-16 player focuses only on himself. He will maneuver his game, sometimes elegantly; yet, he will fail to notice even the most fundamental maneuvers in his opponents. Focusing only on himself is also a social downfall of the 8-16 species; they will nauseate you with inaccurate statistics of every pot they’ve lost since 1996. They are, however, typically very kind mammals. There are few harsh words for their opponents’ specific plays, as they are usually not articulate enough to form a coherent argument.
15-30 players, on the other hand, while far more intelligent, are also very territorial and egotistical. These players will rarely bore you with the minutia of their losses; they will, however, brazenly attack the way their opponents play their cards, as their understanding of the game is far more advanced than that of their 8-16 counterparts. The 15-30 player will also play very aggressively, and change his strategy when necessary. He does, additionally, understand these changes in his opponents, as the 8-16 player fails to do. This aspect of the 15-30 creature makes the game quite different from 8-16. 8-16 pots are large with many opponents, whereas a typical 15-30 game has fewer opponents, smaller pots, and wiser participants.
The downfall of the 15-30 player, however, is his territorial egotism. The atmosphere is very much a boy’s club, with unofficial membership being gained only through very frequently participating. Everybody knows everybody else. As such, when a new player arrives, he is immediately underestimated.
A hand, for instance, came up recently involving me and a regular at the 15-30 game. Keep in mind, I do not play 15-30 very often, and while I do know a number of the players, I am certainly not “one of them.” Most of the players regard me as an outsider, an occasional player who doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’m in the small-blind, and action folds to the cut-off, a man who had been tirelessly raising most pots. He raises. The button, a smart player, calls. I look down at A-7 of hearts. If the button had folded, I likely would’ve three-bet. Instead, I call. The big-blind folds. The flop is 9-9-6, two hearts. I check, the original raiser bets, and the button folds. I decide to try and take control of the hand, and check-raise. I like the four-flush, obviously, but there is a good chance my hand is currently leading, with only Ace-high. The cut-off re-raises. I call. The re-raise does not really scare me, as this is a very common play to remain in control of the action. The turn is another 6, making the board 9-9-6-6. I check. The cut-off bets. I think for a few moments, but it’s a pretty easy call. I don’t put him on a 9 or a 6, and if he does, in fact, have an over-pair, I have 12 live cards (3 aces and 9 hearts). I call. The river is the 4-of-hearts, making my flush. I check. I could easily have bet here, but I thought there was a good chance my hand was best from beginning to end, and betting into him on the river negated giving him a chance to bet with nothing. In other words, I don’t believe he would’ve called me on the river. He checks disgustedly behind me, saying “If you could call on the turn, you must have the best hand.” I roll over my flush, and he mucks.
Immediately following the hand, he began needling me. ”You couldn’t fold that on the turn?”
“Nope,” I simply responded.
“And you didn’t even bet when you got there? Jesus…”
Funny enough, a conversation started between the cut-off agitator and the thoughtful player on the button. The button, who I do not know personally, and who appeared to know the cut-off player very well, simply said, “He played the hand perfectly.” (This point can be debated, but the interaction was nonetheless entertaining).
The point is this: the man never would’ve said a word to me if I were “one of them.” If he had known me, he would’ve respected my play and been quiet. Since I’m only an occasional player, however, he felt that he had the right to comment upon my “blunder,” as he saw it. Furthermore, he used what he felt was good “evidence” in that hand to continue underestimating me. He rarely gave me credit for a hand, and was constantly disgusted with my re-raises.
I have no doubt that this egotism and rampant underestimation of newcomers is a serious downfall of the 15-30 breed. The 8-16 man, of course, does not have equal egotism, but simply inferior skills. I’d like to be clear, however, that the inferior skills of the 8-16 player will generally far surpass the egotism of the 15-30 player when deciding which game is softer…
(Although it may seem as I though, I, too, am underestimating players at the 8-16 game, there is an abundance of evidence to suggest that my assessment is correct. Also, when a player sits down that I, in fact, know nothing about, I assume he is skilled until he proves otherwise)Jacob "Jaymind" Westlin is a semi-professional limit hold'em player with a strong, sarcastic wit. Jaymind also frequently contributes to Minnesota Poker Magazine's monthly publication. Email Jaymind at firstname.lastname@example.org