Buy low sell high

This well known piece of stock market advice applies to spread limit poker games too. When you are drawing, you would like to be calling small bets ("buying low"), but once you have the best hand, you want to charge your opponents the highest possible price to catch up with you ("sell high").

Therefore, if you think you have the best hand, bet the maximum permitted; pretend it's a structured game and that's the only amount you're allowed to bet. If you're drawing at a straight or a flush, you hope your opponents choose to bet less than the maximum, which they will do sometimes. For instance, an opponent may bet a small amount with top pair but a bad kicker. This is a mistake. If you believe you should bet, then you should bet the maximum, otherwise check. ...

Some of your opponents will continue to bet a dollar or two when they could bet as much as eight. Sadly, this sort of incorrect play has become rare, but you may see it once in a while. When an opponent gives you such a bargain, you can draw at many more hands, and when you make them, you charge your opponent full price to see the result. For instance, if there is $12 in the pot with one card to come, and your opponent bets just $ 1, you can call with an inside straight draw! Of course, if you do this, be sure you are drawing at the nuts, since some players will bet less than the maximum to draw you in when they have an unbeatable hand.

Since some people adjust their bet size to their perceived quality of their hand, you get wonderful information. If they bet a little, they have an "OK" hand. If they bet a lot, they have a "good" hand. If somebody is doing this, he is probably not a very experienced poker player; be careful what information you try to glean from his actions. What he thinks is a good hand and what you do might be very different.

Also, the bigger the range of permitted bets, the more drastic the difference between big pairs and drawing hands. For instance, $2-10 (on all four betting rounds) used to be a common spread limit structure and is still found occasionally today. If you see the flop for $2, and then flop top pair, you can make it wildly incorrect for opponents to draw to straights and flushes by betting $10 on the flop. Many players did not understand the dramatic shift in value caused by this wide betting range. The result was that the bad players lost their money very quickly and the games dried up. Limits such as $1-4-8-8 have less latitude, and have pot odds situations that more closely resemble structured games.

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