Full ring small stakes games are some of the tightest tables in online poker. With that said, however, it does not mean that they are easy to beat. These particular limits are full of regulars and full time players. One of the primary reasons that regulars flock to these tables is because it tends to get a steady stream of “fish.” Without an ongoing supply of bad players with money to spend, the games would be completely dead. Strategy in these games does not vary all that much from limit to limit across the small stakes spectrum. One of the big differences between 6-max and full ring tables in the small stakes is that you will have a very noticeable skill difference in various limits at 6-max tables, whereas it’s harder to notice in full ring games. Of course, this isn’t to say that there isn’t an improvement in play as you move up in limits. Don’t be mislead, these games are not easy, but you shouldn’t encounter a ton of variance along the way, either.
The general strategy for any full ring game is to play pots in position and to not get out of line Over aggression is a major killer in any full ring game. Instead, the optimal strategy is to choose spots where you have good hands, are facing weak opponents, and are in ideal position. It is highly profitable to play as many pots as possible when in position, even when you aren’t holding an exceptionally strong hand.
Pre-flop strategy in full ring small stakes games is to value bet and isolate. You don’t want to be playing in many pots where you are up against a handful of opponents. Instead, you want to make larger raises and narrow down the playing field. It is infinitely harder to win against five opponents than it is to win against just one or two players. Value betting effectively allows you to earn the most from your hands while also thinning out the field.
The hands that you play post-flop are dependant on a number of variables. The main pre-flop concerns are hand strength, position, your opponents, and the action. There isn’t much else that you need to worry about until you start to play pots post-flop. Take a look at each of these factors, one by one.
Hand strength is the most obvious dynamic in any pre-flop situation, but it is always relevant to your opponents. If you have AQos, you know where you stand, but the strength of your hand is diminished if a player raises and gets re-raised. A poor player looks only at the inherent strength of their own hand, while a good player considers their strength in relation to the other players at the table. A strong opening hand in a full ring game is anything better than QK, assuming early position. If you have any pocket pair or AJ+, you should be making an open raise. If you are re-raised, it is time to slow down with anything short of AQ+ or TT+. The later your position, the more value that should be attached to each hand.
Position is even more critical in a full ring game than it is in 6-max games. There are more players in early position, middle position, and late position to contend with. You can make a raise in middle position in a 6-max game and reasonably expect folds, but this isn’t nearly as likely in a full ring game. The best position for strategy is to play more pots when in position and less pots out of position. This is extremely basic and should go without saying for any player who has cash game experience. To elaborate further, widen your range when you have position. You can safely call an open raise with JT if there was four callers ahead of you, but a single open raise would denote a fold. The weakness of your hands is going to be largely outweighed by the value of position.
Your opponents play a pre-flop role in that they will dictate whether or not you should get involved in a hand. If you make an open raise UTG with AJ and get re-raised by one of the tighest players at the table, you should definitely let it go. This is a situation where your hand is strong and has value, but loses its strength when re-raised by a tight player. Opponents playing style is particularly important in full ring games because they will be easier to identify. There aren’t a whole lot of super tight nits in short handed games, but they are a dime a dozen at full ring tables.
The action pre-flop tends to be self-descriptive. You should know that a raise and a re-raise means that you need to fold your pocket fours, even if you have great position. The general ranking of importance is that a strong hand is outweighed by a good hand in position, but a good hand in position is beaten by a very good hand from anywhere else. To put it simply, you need to make folds when it is clear that you have a lot of catching up to do and there is a steep price affixed to playing the pot. Yes, pocket fours are a great hand to set mine with, but they are worth much less when there is a 20 big blind raise and re-raise ahead of you.
A definitive post-flop strategy in these games is all but impossible to define. As a rule of thumb, you should look to work with more made hands than complete bluffs. The nature of full ring is such that anyone who gets to the flop is prone to having a very strong hand. This is completely opposite of what you will typically find in short handed games. If someone either open raises, calls your raise, or re-raises pre-flop, you can bet that they have something decent almost all of the time.
Making tough folds post-flop is not all that difficult in full ring games. The overall tightness of pre-flop play means that super aggression post-flop is usually indicative of a strong hand. Say that you opened the action pre-flop with AA and got three calls. If the flop comes 459 rainbow, you will probably think that your hand is good, and it very well might be. The key to being a good player, though, is being able to let go of your hand.
This flop seems to be quite good for your hand, but it could also be deadly. If you lead out on this flop and get called, you might want to consider whether you are beat. The turn will be a big indicator of where you stand. If, after getting flat called on the flop, you get raised on a seemingly blank turn, you can safely assume that your opponent has two pair or a set. Think about what hands you would actually beat in this spot. The answer is nothing but a bluff. Your opponent is very unlikely to have only flat called pre-flop and on the flop with an overpair to the board, and they wouldn’t be raising now.
Full ring games see a lot more monster hands post-flop than short handed games because the overall hand strength is relatively high. Value bet when you have a strong hand, but be prepared to let go when you face steady resistance. Remember, they probably aren’t bluffing.