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Is system based play effective in no limit hold’em?

There are strong tendencies with players who are new to Texas Hold em poker to use system based play to try and extract money from the game. This article addresses the possibilities of being able to do so. Firstly we need to address what is meant by system based play. Usually what is meant is that your play is dictated by a series of rules that differ in complexity. Let us look at a simple and classic system that more and more people are starting to use in Texas Holdem poker these days and it is minimum stacking. This is the process of buying in for the minimum and then looking to get all in either before the flop or on the flop.

It is customary for players to wait until they have premium hands or hands that they believe have equity against their opponents range. As part of this system then they usually leave the table when they double up or increase their stack by a significant amount. Now under the right set of circumstances then this system is effective, if it wasn’t then the system would never get the level of popularity that it does. However it is also a very simple strategy and when a strategy is simple then the way to combat that strategy is also simple.

There are many ways to combat short stack players and the first and most straight forward is to simply avoid them by choosing games where there are no minimum stackers or there are only one or two of them. The next tactic is to simply not give them action when they are on your table. If they raise or even limp then you know what their hand range is. Good minimum stackers often limp re-raise and this is a standard tactic. But the lesson here is clear in that if the system is simple then the way to combat that system is also simple. No clearer example of this is seen than in the game of noughts and crosses.

no limit hold’em

The player who goes first has an easy unbeatable system of never ever getting beaten. However the system is so easy that it is also easy to combat and the player going second can combat the system by also playing in a way that never loses. So it is clear then that simple systems can only be effective if you find opponents who do not know or understand the simple responses. More complex system based play stands a better chance of being successful because the techniques to combat the system are also more complicated.

However poker is non linear in nature meaning that your earnings are irregular as are the actions of your opponents. This means that it is difficult for linear strategies to work over the long term in an environment that is non linear. Most systems have sell by dates and this is clearly seen in the world of sports betting. Do not expect to get rich with system based play in Texas Holdem poker but you can make small profits and it is better to play with a decent system as a novice player than to play badly without one.

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