Unquestionably we have a goal…a very tangible goal. In the simplest of terms it is to win money.
Yet, the goal can not be tied to a destination…ever. If we were to do so, we would be incorrectly forecasting, that at some future point in time, everything to be known about playing in Brick and Mortar (B & M) No Limit cash games would be known by us.
And, whether you currently realize it or not, there can be no such destination; there will never be a time when we know all there is to know about cash game play. There will always be something new to learn, there will always be someone new who we can learn from, and there will always be a new, or alternate, strategy worthy of our attention.
And, take note that the above paragraph specifically references B & M’s (casinos and card rooms)….it does not include free online poker play; never will….very little can be learned from a dishonest card game. I currently know of no ‘real money’ Internet poker site that has fared well in the current scheme of instantly available global news; cheating and software rip-offs have become a near-daily headline….and, none of you should be playing for ‘real money’ at an online poker site.
Pleasantly, your presence here at NoPayPOKER.com tells me that you may well subscribe to the beliefs I hold about ‘real money’ online poker gaming….and, you’ve chosen NoPay to be the place for your Internet trips to the free online texas hold em poker tables.
I could say “good choice”, but, I suspect you already know that I would use those two words. Clearly, I have been opposed to online poker play since the very first scandal hit the news media….that was about 4 years ago; and, my suspicions about the integrity of Internet poker gaming date back to somewhere around June of 2002.
Here, at NoPay, you get to play poker for free, you get to participate in an honest game, you get 25c a day by clicking ads, and you have the opportunity to parlay the daily ‘house’ gift into a stash of dollars.
Candidly, I know of some NoPay members who have taken their ‘real money’ balances up to well over $1,500 (US$). And, that amount is more than enough to begin a Brick & Mortar journey.
In other Articles….dated 2002 through 2008….I have made mention of the ‘extreme profits’ available to you with the low pocket pairs.
And, I’ve suggested to you that these pairs will increase your available cash by far more than any other two cards you’ve been dealt.
What pairs have I been referencing? Which are the low pocket pairs that are going to move big money to your wallet or purse?
Well…the pairs are 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88 and 99; especially when a number of players have entered the pot….the more, the merrier.
If three, four, five, or six players have contributed to the pot, there’s an awful good chance that most of them have come in with pocket paint; or, at the very least, with one high paint card.
This would bode well for our chances of hitting a set on the flop. It suggests that the two cards of help to us are still in the deck. And, even though it would be great to witness multiple players participating in the hand, we’ll still want to play our low pocket pairs without regard to how many players joined the fray…with but one ‘hard cast’ caveat.
The cost to play can never be more than 3 times the BB. Plus, our willingness to play has no bearing on the table position we are seated at…early, middle, or late.
As long as we can play the pair for a cost that does not exceed 3 times the BB, we want our money in the pot. Although, Lord knows, we’re never allowed to initiate a bet….ever.
We’re no more than ‘callers’ to a 3 times the BB raise. And, it’s not uncommon at all to enter the pot simply as a ‘limper’. That will happen at a B & M table much more often than you might think.
Now, allow me to present the rationale for what you may currently perceive of as my ‘low pocket pair’ madness. We’ll do a little math first.
- You have approximately a 1 in 8 probability that you’ll hit a set on the flop.
- That alone, if the set hits, should win you the pot.
- Then, if you do hit the set, you have almost a 1 in 5 chance of catching a full house through the turn and river cards…as a result of the board pairing.
The preceding numbers are all fact, there’s no speculation included in the math.
However, let’s get past just the numbers; let’s get to the ‘mind-set’ of your competitors.
- Who at the table believes that you hold pocket 55, when the flop comes 5/9/A?
- Who at the table believes that you hold pocket 33, when the flop comes 8/3/K?
- Who at the table believes that you hold pocket 66, when the flop comes T/Q/6?
- No one, not a soul. And, because of that, because everyone at the table is clueless as to what you’re holding, you’ll now find yourself in the most enviable position of all…you’re holding the dominant hand, and they’re all guessing.
Usually, 12 cards can beat us on the turn; the remaining 35 cards post-flop retain our position of holding the dominant hand; the current ‘nuts’ hand.
And, 12 cards can beat us on the river (possibly a few more, conditioned on what the turn card shows); the remaining 34 cards post-turn make us a winner; we hold a ‘nuts’ hand.
In truth, after everything is taken into consideration (aside from a 4 flush board), no matter what number of additional outs have been created by the turn card, we can’t be less than a 5 to 2 favorite to win the pot. And, we’ll possibly get as much as 7 to 2, or more, on our money.
To put that in better perspective, if we were always a 5 to 2 favorite to win, and if we were always getting 7 to 2 on our money, we’d have a Return on Investment (ROI) of about 150%.
Translated into real dollars, a 150% ROI means that for every $100 we put into the pot, we’re going to get back $250. In candor, if we were all able to play the game with a constant ROI of 150%, none of us would be working a ‘day job’ any longer, we’d all be playing poker on a full-time basis.
And, while I’m not suggesting that 150% is always attainable, I am saying that the lower pocket pairs are the biggest ‘key’ to it being attainable. (Also, please note that I retired from my ‘day job’ in 2002.)
The last argument that anyone could put forth regarding my suggested way of playing 22 through 99, would be the cost of the entry fee to the pot; recall that we’ll play these pocket pairs from any table position as long as the cost does not exceed 3 times the BB.
Also, recall that we hold a 1 in 8 chance of hitting a set on the flop every time we enter the pot with these low pocket pairs. Beyond a doubt none of us needs a PhD in Mathematics to realize that for every 8 times we put money into the pot, 7 times we’re waving ‘goodbye’ to the cash we put forth….7 times we won’t hit the set on the flop.
However, we’re not truly waving ‘goodbye’ to 7 occasions of placing 3 times the BB into the pot. My experience at the tables is such that I average a ‘bye-bye’ to about 1.5 times the BB on those 7 hands. So, for every 12 times the BB in total cost of playing all 8 hands (1.5 x 8 = 12), I’ve ended up flopping a set one time; you will also.
And, in the worst of all possible scenarios, the 1 in 8 flopped set has made me at least a 5 to 2 favorite to win the hand…a hand that undeniably has the potential to carry with it a monster pot. And, on many more than one occasion, so many more than I can count, I have taken down pots that were worth greater than $2,000.
At this point, a few other numbers need to enter our thoughts.
- First, the average pot I win with a flop that turned a low pocket pair into a set hovers around $800.
- Second, the average cost for me to win that pot is about $350…which includes the 12 times the BB total to have played all 8 of the lower pocket pairs I was dealt; 7 of which never amounted to anything.
- Again, we don’t need that PhD in Mathematics to asses the rewards. The Return on Investment (ROI) is approximately 128%.
Which, I should add, compares most favorably to my monthly ROI average of about 65%. And, again, let me say “I only look stupid”.
The reality is that there’s nothing stupid about making the appropriate investment (up to 3 times the BB) with the non-paint pockets. Unquestionably, for me, the exact opposite is true: it’s the smartest play I make at the table.
It’s the play that consistently provides the highest ROI, it’s the play that consistently produces the most profit, it’s the play that consistently involves the biggest positive Expected Value (+EV), and it’s the play that generates the most Emotions Management (EM) problems for my competition.
When they have placed some, most, or all of their chips into the pot, and then taken a beating from a hidden set, don’t think for a moment that they haven’t been devastated; they have….they’ve been hurt. And, for some, it’ll take a bit of time for their wounds to heal.
For others, the emotional ‘crippling’ they’ve experienced will fundamentally take their mental capacities out of the game for the balance of the day. Consider this, the dollar amount that was lost could have been the equivalent of a mortgage payment….maybe 2 payments; and that amount of money will cripple a lot of players.
Enough about the lower pocket pairs. If I haven’t impressed upon you the overwhelming significance of playing them as described above, then it’s only fair that I leave you to your own method of play.
And, hopefully, you’ve developed a ‘playing methodology’ that exceeds the ROI associated with the 7 year history of my Brick and Mortar play. (Plus, since I’m forever interested in improving my own game, if you truly believe that your method is superior to my method, I’d welcome the opportunity to learn about it….please send me a ‘pm’.)
Last, as time passes, as each new article appears, it makes sense to further develop our understanding of the vast differences between tournament play and cash game play.
So, I want to talk about a cash game hand that I was witness to recently. It was at a $5/$10 No Limit table in Harrah’s (New Orleans)….and, this particular B & M is fairly well frequented by a handful of professional players, quite a number of very good players, and, most fortunately, a great many tourists.
Yet, in the hand that I witnessed, the ‘Under The Gun” (UG) player made a 5 times the BB raise. Two Players called. The flop showed X/X/X…I don’t care what the cards were, they’re meaningless, they have no bearing on the subject matter I’m about to discuss.
One of the ‘callers’ then bet the pot, the second ‘caller’ threw his chips into the pot, and, without hesitation, the original bettor went all-in; as did the other 2 players.
Now, did the 5 times the BB bettor, the all-in bettor, have pocket AA? No!
Did he have pocket KK? No! Did he have pocket AK? No! Did he have pocket QQ? No! Then, what reason did he have for his initial 5 times the BB pre-flop raise? Well, he had a pocket AJ; a pocket that would NOT have been played by any winning and experienced cash game player; it is not a playable pocket with a Positive Expected Value (+EV) from the UG table position.
His play was nothing more than a ‘farm animal’ tournament play. And, more importantly, it’s a tourney play that actually carries with it a negative Expected Value (-EV).
Ace/Jack, whether the cards are suited or unsuited, will lose money from early position over the long term…both in tournaments and in cash games. Now, I imagine many of you don’t know that; or, didn’t know that.
But, you’re going to learn these things; at least it’s my intent for you to learn these things. Frankly, I’ll be ‘BoboTheClowns’ best friend before I let any of my readers, or any of my students, run off to a B & M without properly preparing for their conquests in cash games.
If you’re going to win money….serious money….you’re not going to sit at a B & M table with the limited mental capacities of an Internet free poker tournament/cash player, and fling chips around on any 2 paint cards. If you are, stop reading what I write…you don’t belong in this circle. You’ll never end up with most, or all, of your opponents cash. Truthfully, the exact opposite will happen…they’ll end up with most, or all, of your cash.
And, yes, I would agree that the last few paragraphs might have been hard to accept.
How many free Texas Hold Em players would ever even consider folding AJ from early position? The answer, albeit pure speculation on my part, is probably somewhere around 1% of the total population of players…maybe less.
However, just because the vast majority of people align themselves with a premise, a promise, a politician, or a play…doesn’t make it correct. No! All it does is suggest that the vast majority are much like lemmings; others do it, so they quickly follow.
Therefore, let’s dissect the pocket Ace/Jack; possibly you’ll become the convert I need you to be.
- There is only an 18% chance of an Ace appearing on the flop; a bit less than a 1 in 5 chance.
- Conversely, there is a 42% chance (7 divided by 50 multiplied by 3) that a King or Queen shows on the flop (this assumes that 1 player holds a pocket King or Queen).
- What do you do now…from early position…when the player who made the high pair bets out?
- Or, what do you do when there’s no paint at all on the flop?
- The board shows 9/8/3, and a player bets out.
- Where’s the value in your early position AJ pocket now?
In all honesty, over the long term, you’re almost always at least a pre-flop 2 to 1 underdog when you’re holding AJ in early position; potentially much worse…as bad as a 9 to 1 dog.
Moreover, even when an Ace does come on the flop, where are you in relation to the player who holds pocket AK, or pocket AQ?
- Where are you in relation to the player who hit a set on the flop?
- Where are you in relation to the player who holds nine outs to a flush draw?
- Where are you in relation to the player who holds eight outs to a straight draw?
- Or, where are you in relation to the very fortunate player who holds sixteen outs?
My answer is a very simple one. Almost without exception, your ‘Under the Gun’ held Ace/Jack is in the most precarious of positions; nearly the worst of all places to be.
And, you’re going to find yourself defending a fairly weak hand, from a doghouse position at the table, with countless numbers of your chips vested in the pot that there was no need to put at risk. You’ll rarely end up with a ‘nuts’ hand from pocket AJ when seated at table position UG….the Bottom Line: fold the damn cards.
Our game is not about putting money at risk, our game is clearly about having others put money at risk.
Please, if you’re joining me on this adventure through the brick and mortar world, I want you to learn to win, I want you to regularly remove cash from your opponents, and I want that cash to fill your wallets. I can’t imagine you’d want anything else….the game is, and only is, about money; nothing else.
Our involvement in No Limit cash games can be summed up in a few sentences.
- If we don’t hold the ‘nuts’ hand, we really don’t want to be in the mix.
- There are way too many ‘beanbrains’ emulating Mr. Television Professional who are sitting at a B & M table to be putting our money at risk when we don’t hold a distinct advantage.
- There are way too many ‘morons’ pretending to be famous skilled players who are sitting at a B & M table to be ignoring our commitment to patience when we don’t hold a distinct advantage.
- And, there are way too many complete and utter ‘numbskulls’ masquerading as intellectuals who are sitting at a B & M table to be indifferent towards a Playable Pockets Matrix (PPM).
Do you have one? Yes? No? Do you have one that was constructed as a result of running 2.6 trillion hands of simulated poker on a Main Frame? A simulation that included all 2,652 possible pocket card combinations, a simulation that took place in a 9 handed game, a simulation that utilized a true random deal, a simulation that almost identically matched the results of a similar computer exercise performed by the University of Chicago….well, you will. It’s included in last year’s series of Articles….you’ll find it right here at NoPayPOKER free Poker.
Best of Luck at the Tables
(c) copyright 2009; no reproduction, all rights reserved by D. M. Vadnais