Kill it

When playing limit hold’em the latest craze here in Fresno seems to be kill games. In a kill game a player that wins two pots in a row is required to post a kill which is a double blind and the stakes of the next hand are doubled. If the game is $15-30 with blinds of $10 and $15 the kill pot will be $30-60 and the kill is an extra $30 blind bet.

The kill does make an active game even more active. If you have loose players that play most of the hands they are bound to win two pots in a row and develop a kill situation. The kill puts extra money into the pot and makes players like myself more likely to raise and bring it in for $60. This will often allow me to isolate to the kill who often calls another $30 with a random hand. If I pick up the blinds it is actually $55 that I win.

I find that the doubling of the limits works to my advantage because most players are not comfortable playing at the doubled limit. This allows me to isolate and make continuation bets that often win the pot on the flop or the turn.

Because I play very tight and I open very few pots in limit hold’em most of my opponents give me credit for having a strong hand any time that I enter the pot. When I enter the pot for a raise most players notice. What these players are failing to notice is that my raising standards in kill pots are much lower than in normal pots. A second factor that goes un-noticed is that I will raise far more liberally when nobody has entered the pot.

This strategy has served me well in the local games. I tend to win a bunch of relatively small uncontested pots on the kill pots. The kill will often call the additional money before the flop and also be priced in on the flop bet. The turn bet is usually where my loose opponents give up on the hand.

I will share a story where this strategy actually backfired on me and I ended up losing a huge amount of money. I was playing $20-40 and it was a kill pot with a very loose player in the kill from early position. I was in the cut-off position and nobody had entered the pot for the $40. I looked down at pocket fours and brought it in for a raise making it $80. The button a Las Vegas Professional of some fame called the $80 cold. The small blind called $70 more and I really started to hate my hand. The big blind looked at all the money and called $60 more. The killer called the additional $40 as expected. I got exactly nobody out with the raise and five players saw the flop.

I was ready to abandon my hand unless I flopped a set. Of course I flopped a set. Not just any set but top set. The flop was 2 3 4 rainbow. The blinds checked and the killer bet and I raised it to $80. The button re-raised the bet to $120 and the blinds folded. The killer made another raise and I was caught in the middle of two raisers. Unfortunately, we played with a bet and four raises at that casino. The $80 pre-flop and another $200 on the flop made this a very expensive hand. There was right at $1000 in the pot and I could see no way to get away from my hand. I was determined to ride it out. The 9 on the turn did nothing to change the hand. My opponents continued to bet and raise until it was capped at $400 on the turn.

At this point an interesting thing happened, the player on the button seated to my immediate left whispered under his breath, “I beat all sets”. I was surprised by the breach of etiquette and the general thought that this may actually help me. I felt at this point all three hands were well defined. I had flopped a set and they had flopped the straight. I had no choice but to see if the board would pair.

The pot had $2200 in it and the river card brought a jack that did not help me. The killer bet another $80 and I folded my hand. I had lost $680 in the hand because I had played the kill pot with my ultra-aggressive style.

A second surprising thing happened in the hand on the river, the Vegas pro simply called the $80 and turned over the nut straight. The killer looked at the straight and tabled the bottom straight of A5. I was a little shocked that the pro did not raise with the nuts and even more shocked that the killer had played the number two straight so hard.

I still feel that my strategy for playing kill pots is a sound one and I will continue to make the adjustments to my game based upon my perception of my opponents’ fear of the bigger limit kill pots.

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