100 BB vs. 200 BB Games
One of the biggest structural differences between live poker and online poker will be found in stack sizes. Most online games play 100 big blinds deep at the most, with many players buying in for less. When you transition into live play, however, you are going to notice that many poker rooms have 200 bb max buy ins and that some rooms have no caps whatsoever in certain games. Needless to say, this changes the dynamics of the game quite a bit. You can't possibly play as effectively as possible if you are using the same exact strategy in two formats that will clearly play quite differently from one another.
The fact that many players don't realize that these games call for different types of poker strategy is an illustration of just how valuable two different skill sets are. A lot of players blindly assume that their home game strategy carries into live play and that their live play strategy should remain static no matter what. In reality, this could not be further from the truth. There are so many different things that you should be changing on your own, but you can also look for several ways to manipulate opponents who aren't paying attention. If you thought stacking an opponent for 100 big blinds was fun, imagine playing in a game where you have a chance to play for 200+ time and time again. The aim of this article is to elaborate on how the games differ and what you can do as a player to capitalize on these discrepancies.
Deeper stacked games will tend to play with larger open raises. Players know that everyone has more money available to work with, so they are naturally inclined to raise the amount of risk they are willing to take in any given hand. By starting off each hand with a larger sized raise, you are creating a better opportunity for a larger pot down the line. You should be taking note of which players adjust their bet sizes accordingly and which ones do not. Beyond this, you should also be making a conscious effort to squeeze more money whenever possible.
The types of hands that you would consider playable will vary greatly depending on how deep you are playing. If you were in a game where there were a couple of very bad players, you would be looking to get involved in some pots with them. Now, if you were working with somewhere around 100 big blinds, it's unlikely that you would be calling off raises with anything too far out of the ordinary. Sure, you want to play in as many pots as possible with weaker players, but you still need to have something to work with because otherwise you'll bleed your stack dry in no time.
Given this information, it should almost be a no brainer that you can widen your ranges up when you are playing deeper. Though pre-flop raises are going to be larger, there's still going to be an awful lot of room for post-flop play as a whole when at deep stacked tables. You can take advantage of inferior players by calling pre-flop bets with the hope of out flopping and/or out playing them after the fact. Deep stack play is very much to the advantage of the more skilled players vs. the shorter stacked games where any random player can get lucky.
Approach and Bet Sizing
If you are able to land a strong hand and are now playing post-flop, your goal is to get as much money as possible from your opponent. This should go without saying, but it can be very difficult to get a deep stacked player to commit all of their chips barring a nuts vs. second nuts kind of situation. Thinking and planning ahead is much more vital in 200 bb games than it is in 100 bb games. You could check raise the flop, bet turn, and river to get someone's entire stack in 100 bb games, but you may be left with another 100 big blinds using this same strategy in a deeper stacked game.
Instead, you might consider an alternate approach where you would bet the flop, check raise the turn, and then bet the river. The difference in this play is that your check raise is going to be for a much more significant amount of money than it would have been for on the flop. This is just one example that illustrates how bet sizing can be ideal for one hand and far from optimal in the next solely because of stack sizes.
Bet sizing ties into the way that you are playing a hand. If you are check raising someone in the right spot but are unable to make enough money, there's a good chance that you didn't raise to a large enough amount. Bet sizing is a very important skill that will affect your bottom line dramatically over time even in small pots, but its importance is magnified when you are playing in 200 bb games. The whole goal of your bet sizing is to take as much as you can at one time without scaring off your opponent.
Needless to say, this assumes that you have a strong hand that wants to get paid off. If you can safely make a moderate sized flop or turn check raise while getting the rest of the money in the middle with a bet on the turn, there's no need to go overboard right away. Unless you are defending against draws or otherwise threatening hands, there's no need to push someone away earlier than is necessary.
This is one of the most common mistakes that players make in deep stacked live poker games. They get caught up in the moment, are usually nervous and spastic, and will often make huge raises and re-raises that totally kill their action. Even if you don't end up getting the entire stack that you were originally hoping for, you can still work towards your goal of making as much money as possible. It's much better to come away with a decent sized win than it is to win something small. And it's better to win something small than it is to win nothing. With 200 big blind live tables, you are going to have repeated opportunities to win decent sized pots that would have been considered sizable in most of the 100 bb games of equivalent limits.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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