How much do you need at the table

In a $3-$6 or $l-$4-$8-$8 game, you should start with at least $80 or $100, and have another $100 or $200 ready to put into play. In a $3-$6 structured game with a three raise maximum, it will cost you $72 (12 big bets) to cover three raises on all four betting rounds. Of course, this is an exceptional case, but sometimes you make a huge hand and have one or more people calling

' For the curious reader, there are circumstances in which you have an advantage with a short stack. Malmuth and Sklansky have both written about this situation, but it is beyond the scope of this text. Furthermore, most players handle short stacks very poorly.

or raising. In that case, you want to extract maximum value. If the game is wild and there is a lot of raising, you should have the entire 12 big bets, or close to it. If the game is very tight and there's not a lot of raising, you can play with as few as seven or eight big bets.

Since the game is table stakes, you won't be permitted to go into your pocket for more money during the hand, so you must have the maximum you'd want to bet in front of you before the hand starts.

You will often see your opponents buying into the game for the minimum — perhaps $20 or $30. Each time they bust out (and they seem to do that frequently)," they re-buy for that same amount. Furthermore, players who buy in this manner often want to gamble with just those few chips. They will raise or reraise in an attempt to get all-in early in the hand, almost regardless of their cards. Be aware of this sort of behavior — in that case you can't play marginal hands or draws because you'll have to pay lots of money for them early. Play premium big cards and pairs. Note also that when a player is all-in, implied odds cease to exist. If you make a drawing hand, he has no money with which to pay you off. Therefore, when drawing against a player who is all-in, you must be getting correct pot odds right there.

Finally, you can almost never bluff a player off his last couple of chips. Don't bother trying.

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