When you play in limit hold ’em games with lower blinds, you’re going to definitely be playing at a lot more longhanded tables. “Longhanded,” for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, refers to table where there are seven or more involved in play at any given time. Tables with this many players tend to be more aggressive and feature more people going to the showdown, which means you have to adjust your playing style to compensate.
The first thing you need to do is to tighten up your game. This is where most new players make mistakes when playing in their first real-money limit hold ’em games – they play in too many hands out of impatience.
I’m going to be real with you: it does get boring, but you can literally just wait for a quality hand to be dealt to you, play it to the best of your abilities and make money playing poker.
However, you may not know what constitutes a “quality” hand. For novices, I definitely recommend sticking to what I call “Category 1” and “Category 2” hands for the most part.
Category 1 hands are the best of the best: AA, KK, QQ, JJ and AK, and they should always be played. The only exception to this rule is if you’re holding AK or JJ and you’re absolutely positive that someone has AA or KK by the way they’re pushing their chips into the pot, especially if they’re typically very tight.
Category 1 hands should generally be raised from any position so that you can get as much money from the other players as possible before the flop. It should be noted that for AK you’ll need to hit an Ace or a King or you’ll just be holding a high card. This means you should avoid a raising war with another player because it’s likely that they’re holding a pair.
Category 2 cards are good hands that need generally need help from the board to turn into something truly winning. These include TT, 99, AQ, KQ. These should generally be played and work better with fewer players in the pot. You should raise to thin down the herd a bit, but don’t be afraid to fold if there have been some steep raises before the play gets to you.
Below these two categories, I honestly don’t recommend that a new player engage a longhanded table and instead stick to very tight-aggressive play. The risk of having another player holding a better hand and then using it against you is so much greater when the stakes are low and the table is packed with someone who’s likely catching a better hand.