Poker strategy - Short handed limit holdem poker - improve your game and win more
Aggression and isolation
The key to successful shorthanded play is: aggression and isolation. In short handed limit holdem you pay more per hand and have to fight harder for the blinds. If you play to tight the blinds will eat you alive. Aggression is very important - it will help you to keep the initiative and steel the precious blinds.
A shorthanded game is usually defined as a game with five to six players or less. (Nowadays many sites offer six-handed tables which usually are considered shorthanded, but the puritans argue that they have to be five-handed or less in order to be called shorthanded.) I will include the six-handed tables here, but it is important to keep in mind that the nature of the game changes radically when it goes from six to say four players and you have to be even more aggressive with fewer players at the table.
The goal in a shorthanded game is to isolate a single opponent (preferable in position) and fight hard to win the pot. You also want to pick up as many blinds as possible uncontested. The way to achieve these goals is - yes you guessed it - aggression.
Any hand worth calling with in a regular game is here worth raising. There are few occasions in shorthanded limit holdem game where you shouldn't raise when entering the pot. Entering with a raise will give you the initiative and often win you the blinds uncontested.
Take the initiative
Being the aggressor forces your opponents to hit flops. You have the initiative and they will often fold to a bet if they fail to improve their hands on the flop (which they usually do less than 50 percent of the time). This means that you will be able to win many pots just by having the initiative.
Starting hands change in value
In shorthanded limit holdem all pairs and hands containing aces goes up in value, because with fewer opponents these types of hands will often be able to win pots without improvement. At the same time low suited connectors decrease in value - you often need several opponents in the pot to get the odds to chase the draws you pick up with these types of hands.
Hitting a hand
When playing shorthanded limit holdem hitting any hand at all is often a good thing. Mid or bottom pairs are often playable and you seldom have to worry about kicker problems if you hit a top pair. Say you hold something like A7 and hit an ace on the flop. In a full ring game this is usually a trouble hand and you often risk being up against a better ace. But this is far less likely when playing shorthanded. In shorthanded holdem you have to take more hands all the way and shouldn't be afraid to play aggressively if you hit a top pair, even if the kicker is weak.