Choosing your Speciality Poker Game

PokerStarsSchool | Poker Theory and Concepts

What’s the right poker game for you? In this article we share with you some handy poker tips to help you decide.

For the recreational player, who wants to simply enjoy his or her poker time, there is no need to pick one and only one type of game to play. The best route is whatever maximises enjoyment of the game in a responsible way. For the serious player, who has ambitions to become a winner and move up through the stakes, however, there is a definite need to pick a trade. This list is not exhaustive but covers most of the popular formats of the game available on PokerStars. I do not cover games other than No Limit Holdem in this article, but simply formats of play.

Option 1 – Zoom Cash Games

Zoom games deal you into a new table as soon as you have folded. They are fast and exciting, involving little downtime and a constant stream of decisions. I would recommend these games to players who are interested in studying the game theoretically and learning what plays are correct in the absence of exploitative information. Zoom player pools are very large, especially at the micro-stakes and so gaining exploitative reads is not always fast or easy. Adapting to types of players is key but so is theoretical knowledge and an awareness of how poker players think as a collective group at the limit you are playing. The variance in Zoom is high due to the lack of reads and lower skill edge possible. At PokerStars School we have a Zoom Course to get you started.

Option 2 – Regular Cash Games

Regular cash games are a calmer version of Zoom played at the same table for a prolonged period of time and at a slower pace. They offer richer possibilities for gathering and using meaningful reads on your opponents. These games still have all of the convenience of Zoom, although if you want to choose your tables and seats carefully, this can take a little extra time. Players who work full-time, have families, and have limited time for poker will like both regular cash and Zoom formats, but those who enjoy the psychology of the game will prefer regular cash games. It is of course possible to play both regular tables and Zoom games as most of the skill set is entirely transferable. You can learn more about cash games in this Beginner’s Poker Course.

Option 3 – Sit and Gos and Turbo Sit and Gos

These single table tournaments are convenient, easy on the schedule, and involve plenty of different stages where adjusting your play style to suit effective stack-size is a key skill. Sit and Go players will want to hone their full-table game as well as their short-handed play and heads-up skills. Some players find SNGs a more controllable form of poker where the buy-in is decided before the action starts and where there is less danger of burning through an unplanned amount of money on a bad day. I started off with these games back in 2007 and they helped me form a strong all-round foundation to then take to the cash tables when I started playing poker as more than just a hobby. Check out the Sit and Go Course at PokerStars School.

Option 4 – Heads Up Hyper Turbo Sit and Gos

Hyper Turbos are a very common choice of heads up tournament for serious players, though slower 2-handed tournaments are available. This format is suited for players who like a fast-paced adversarial duel. Heads-up play is very volatile as it is necessary to play bigger pots with much weaker hands. Such a format is not recommended for players who go on tilt easily or take losses personally. Forming a vendetta against another poker player is one of the most destructive tendencies of them all. If you suffer from the urge to enact revenge upon opponents who win pots against you, avoid heads-up tournaments at all costs.

Option 5 – Spin N Gos

Spin and Gos are lightning speed three-handed tournaments where the prize pool is randomly generated before the start of play. Winner takes all and so heads-up play at low stack depth is an important skill to master when specialising in these games. Spin and Gos are recommended as a speciality for players who enjoy short-stacked play; learning push or fold charts and calling charts; and a lot of pre-flop all-in action. Players who want to become versed in a more complicated post-flop game tree are advised to specialise in a format with more room to manoeuvre. If you would like to dabble in these games, why not check out our Spin and Go Course here first.

Shuffling green poker chips

Option 6 – MTTs (Multi-Table Tournaments)

If you have plenty of time available on the days you play poker, and you enjoy the rush of going deep in a tournament in search of a big score, this could well be the format for you. Beware, however, being an MTT player requires a lot of patience. You will go on long periods of not cashing in anything at all. With such large fields, you do have to be lucky as well as good to go deep in a big event. For those who desire a more regular pay-out, 180 man tournaments are a good way of increasing how often you’ll get into the money and reducing your variance. If you’d like to learn more about poker tournament strategy you can try this poker course.

Conclusion

As we noted at the beginning, it is not mandatory to specialise. There is nothing wrong with jumping around between different formats until you develop a feel for what you like best and what your skill-set is most suited to. Eventually, if you decide that poker is something you want to make a profitable hobby, or more than a hobby, it is prudent to specialise to one or two formats and dedicate yourself to becoming as proficient in those as possible.

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