I have frequently made reference, within each of the preceding Articles, to the major differences between tournament play and cash game poker play. So, I’ll not let this Article pass without presenting you with an additional difference.
And, this particular difference will provide you with enough information about an accepted strategy…such that you might immediately dispense with any attempt to utilize what I believe to be a distinct negative during any cash game activity on your part. A distinct negative, I should add, that needs to be rapidly removed from your possible routine at a cash game table.
Tournament play, with its’ constancy of escalating blinds, with it’s constancy of table seating changes, and with its’ constancy of stack to Big Blind ratios, is quite properly aligned with what most of us have come to call Power Poker (the term, to the best of my knowledge, having been introduced by Mr. Brunson).
Moreover, tournament play fits well with a basic component of Power Poker; something we’ve all come to describe as a Continuation Bet.
Where, once you’ve raised the bet, without regard to the result of the Dealers’ next action (flop, turn, or river), you’re aggressively betting into the pot…again, it doesn’t matter if the cards, or card, exposed by the Dealer has helped you or hasn’t helped you.
- A Continuation Bet is simply an alternate way of describing very aggressive play.
- And, of significance, it is most often rewarded at a big money tournament table….especially a game played by professionals.
Not so at a cash game table. Any type of aggressive play at a no limit ring game table better have the ‘goods’ to back it up…else, you’ll be sharing your stack with all of the others at the table.
There is no room for the principles of Continuation Betting in our cash game strategy.
- In candor, almost all of Mr. Brunsons’ Power Poker regimentation can be cast aside while playing in a cash game.
- What use could we possibly have for it?
- Our strategy is primarily designed around calling and betting when we hold what we know to be the current ‘nuts’ hand
- ….or, when we are getting incredibly high Implied Odds on a draw to a ‘nuts’ hand.
Fittingly, let’s get something set into concrete right now. We don’t gamble…we bet when we have an advantage.
- And, there is no toying with semantics on my part in making that statement; plain and simple, if we don’t have an advantage, we’re folded out of the pot; we’re not gambling.
- Now, with that thought in mind, the whole idea of Continuation Betting, and its’ inherent use of aggressive play, can’t possibly accrue to our benefit in a cash game.
- It just doesn’t fit with the fundamentals of our game strategy.
Now, that’s not to say that we can’t be aggressive at times. Surely, when ‘calling stations’ and ‘weak players’ are seated to our left, and we hold a dominant hand, it becomes a situation where we would have ample cause for aggressive play; clearly, this would be to our advantage.
Yet, to simply subscribe to the Power Poker belief that Continuation Bets are going to inundate our small space at the felt with some, most, or all of our competitors’ stacks would be no more than idiotic.
I think the constant that we need to be focused on, as it relates to competitors at our tables, isn’t the pursuit of Continuation Betting, rather, it’s the arrival of the crowded bus that brings us new cash game players every day.
This focus augments well with the….’don’t gamble’, ‘play when you hold an advantage’, ‘dispense with Power Poker’….overall style of play that each of us will regularly bring to the tables. If we consistently have a new group of cash game players routinely delivered to our table, all of whom knowing absolutely nothing about the way we play the game, we’re best served by our conservative approach to the game.
And, as important, is the fact that these players arrive with a wad of currency in their pockets, sitting down at a relatively low stakes no limit game ($5/$10)…as opposed to the multi-millionaire professional players who repeatedly join one another in megabuck tournaments.
Power Poker will serve the needs of the professional tournament players, but it won’t serve our needs.
- Continuation Bets will serve the needs of the professional tournament players, but it won’t serve our needs.
- And, almost any type of aggressive play will serve the needs of the professional tournament players, but it won’t serve our needs.
Yet, the patient, methodical, contrived, robotic, and almost boring style of play that we bring to every table will forever serve our needs.
- And, what are our needs?
- Well, they’re pretty simple…
- We need to take our competitors’ money
- We need to do it with a frequency that parallels the every day profiteering of just about all U.S. politicians.
- Heck….if they can outwit the taxpayers and regulatory authorities, we can outwit the ‘Farm Animals’ and poker establishment.
I have mentioned in a number of my prior ‘scribblings’ that one of the hallmarks of a truly good player is his or her ability to lay down what was once a dominant hand in the face of clear evidence that the hand they held has turned into a bushel of ‘rotten apples’.
In order to do this, a variety of skills need to be at your disposal.
And, while it’s certainly true that you’ve been introduced to many of those skills, I’m now adding six more….these six, in combination with the knowledge you’ll gain through reading Articles 8, 9, and 10 (all of which will deal with ‘Player Notes’) will conclude the process of preparing you for consistent long-term B & M winnings.
- You would do well if you had an ability to mentally or physically record accurate player notes
- You would do well if you had an ability to precisely break down the way in which a hand has been played out
- You would do well if you had an ability to decipher an opponents way of thinking
- You would do well if you had an ability to play the competitor and not the cards
- You would do well if you had an ability to indifferently wave goodbye to money that has already been placed in the pot
- You would do well if you had an ability to put all of the pieces together in a somewhat rapid fashion while seated at the table.
Now, any one of these abilities is hard to come by. In combination, all six of these abilities are near impossible to come by…much like a climb to the top of Mt. Everest might be near impossible.
Yet, the word ‘near’, twice mentioned in the last sentence, not only suggests that it can be done, it essentially tells you that it has been done. And, in that I describe myself in private as a reasonably intelligent person, in that I would describe most of you as reasonably intelligent people, we too can, and will, get it done.
Frankly, I’ve already done it…and, you’re going to follow in my footsteps; the majority of you will likely far surpass my footsteps, y’all could easily attain a level that I might not ever achieve.
I say this primarily because many of you are, or will be, in possession of a much larger motivation than I have. The bulk of my accomplishments are behind me, and, even though I play to win money, I don’t need the money…I am very comfortable in my retirement.
For those of you who have yet to reach the accomplishments that occupy your horizons, and for those of you who would be better positioned with a new source of revenue (the cash winnings from B & M play), a motivation exists that can’t be matched by me.
And, I’ve always believed that motivation is the single most important ingredient in almost all success stories. If someone is devoid of any form of motivation, you can almost guarantee that particular someone a full-time residency in the dungeons of life’s’ unhappy basements.
Clearly, not my wish for you. I wouldn’t be writing these articles, and sharing tid-bits of usable information, if I didn’t want to be told of your ultimate successes at the tables. Yet, I doubt that I’m the first to tell you of the synergy that exists between motivation and work ethic.
Motivation gets you started, then work ethic brings your list of pending successes to fruition. No motivation, no work effort…and, simply stated, the translation is failure.
Now, let’s take the opportunity to put the six abilities I just mentioned into an example.
It’s a true story from my own personal experiences at a no limit table; a tale that I shared with all 54 of my 2008 NLRG students late last year. Their commentary to me, at the time, was both interesting and complimentary; although there was no need for the complimentary remarks. I could have just as easily given the compliments to them, since they likely would have played the hand the very same way I did.
- I was in late position at the table, and I had been dealt pocket 44.
- There were 2 limpers to the $10 Big Blind, I called, the SB limped, and the BB checked (a total of 5 players).
- Pre-flop the pot was $50.
- The Dealer exposed a flop of 4/4/8.
- I sat expressionless, but 60′s music and thoughts of a ‘great time’ danced in my head; the words ‘let the good times roll’ echoed throughout my heart and soul.
- Here in Cajun country it’s “laissez les bon temps rouler”….or, maybe the rush I felt was like the day-long feeling one has on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans.
A $50 bet was made by a player in early position…a very good player, a player that I have observed many times at a cash game table, a player for whom I hold extensive mental notes on his style of play, his betting habits, his risk tolerance, his table talk (or lack thereof), and his money management skills.
- I was the only caller.
- Yes…I only called; my intent being to give this player as much rope as he needed to hang himself with.
The turn card was a King, the board now showed 4/4/8/K, and two of the cards were hearts; the potential flush draw, however, had no meaning to me.
- I was playing with quad 4′s. He bet $100 post-turn.
- And, as he bet, he said silently, eyeball to eyeball, “You can’t win this one”.
- Not words, mind you….it was said eyeball to eyeball.
- I then waited for what may have seemed to be an eternity to everyone else at the table, again absent any expression, and called the bet.
- I said nothing; nor did my eyes.
- The pot now held $350.
- The Dealer buried a card, and proceeded to expose the river…a black 8.
- The board now showed 4/4/8/K/8.
Without a moments hesitation, he moved a $350 bet onto the table. I turned to the Dealer, and asked for a little time to make a decision.
- Step by step, I let everything that happened in the hand run through my thoughts.
- Step by step, I let everything I knew about my opponent run through my thoughts.
- Step by step, I let every possible pocket card combination that could be held by my opponent run through my thoughts.
- Step by step, I let his lack of table talk run through my thoughts.
Finally, I looked at him, and asked “Will you show?”
- Without a facial movement, other than the movement of his mouth, while staring me straight in the eyes, he said aloud the words “No. No way”….again, he said the words aloud, he actually spoke them.
- This three word utterance gave me all the validation I needed to support a decision I had given only minor consideration to….the thought was present, I just didn’t want to believe it earlier.
I then said “Take it down”, and turned over my pocket fours; exposing them to the table.
- And, as the Dealer pushed the chips in the winners direction, he, the winner, glared at my fours, said “I’ve never seen anyone lay down quads”, and jumped up from his chair.
- He proceeded to lean over the table, and put forth some mumbled words….to this day I don’t know what those words were.
He extended his right arm, and showed his pocket eights. And, we all know full well that quad eights beat quad fours.
Yet, had I not brought all 6 of the abilities described a few paragraphs ago to the table, I would have been out at least another $350…if not the entirety of my stack.
Which, when that hand ended was $2,200 (after a $1,500 buy-in).
I left the table shortly after that hand, cashed out $2,150, and drove home. But, the ride home wasn’t about winning $650, the ride home was about saving $2,200.
- The overwhelming majority of cash game players would have gone home ‘broke’…I didn’t.
- And, I’m going to project, providing that all of you allow the materials presented in this series of articles to become something of a ‘poker bible’, that all of you would also end up driving home a $650 winner for the day…or, a $2,200 saver for the day (call it what you will).
Now, was this a bad beat? Sure…I would have to answer “Yes”; even though I think that it’s absolutely meaningless…who cares? Could the hand have been played differently by me, such that the outcome had me winning? Possibly, but not likely.
Reflect back on the flop, and you’ll realize that he held a full house post-flop. So, any aggressive bet on my part certainly would have been called by him.
The same is true post-turn…he still held a full house; although I could have represented pocket Kings with a very large bet. Suggesting to him that my full house was better than his.
Yet, I seriously doubt that he would have folded. And, that would have been the ONLY play that could have potentially taken the pot away from him.
Clearly, though, if you’re holding quad fours, I can’t imagine any situation where you wouldn’t want someone to be betting into you…essentially feeding a pot that you fully believe will ultimately land in your private space at the table.
Plus, he was doing exactly that. If anything, post-flop, I was wishing that his bet would have been much larger, I was actually hoping that he would have made an all-in bet.
In the end, I can be very happy that he didn’t make that all-in bet.
Yet, all of this isn’t about who won, or who lost…or, an all-in bet. No…it’s not remotely close to being about any of that.
It’s all simply about a lesson that needs to become a routine part of our game. A difficult lesson? There’s little doubt that the answer is “Yes&”.
It’s a lesson far more difficult than the lessons tied to low pocket pairs, contrived deceptions, and the proper use of Implied Odds. None-the-less, it’s a lesson that we’re all going to have to learn.
The lesson? It’s Player Notes….
- Recording them, maintaining them, and using them.
- And, it will be the subject matter of Articles 8, 9, and 10 in this series.
- Plus, for your edification, I want you to know how I knew that I had to fold my quad fours.
- And….Yes! It was from my player notes.
- And, yes, he gave me the information I needed in order to fold.
- My notes told me that this player, an extremely good player, never speaks aloud during a hand….except, he almost always speaks aloud whenever he’s holding a post-river ‘nuts’ hand.
- A terrible tell that I won’t ever offer to fix for him….even though we know each other very well.
Developing the ability to know when to lay down premium cards is paramount to mastering the game; it’s a fundamental component of your cash transport mechanism.
You’re never going to be labeled a long-term winner at the cash tables by the poker room manager, or more importantly, by yourself, if you can’t make the right lay downs; and, the poker room manager won’t be tossing any ‘comps’ in your direction unless you’ve gotten him to be a believer in the quality of your play.
Or, if you so choose, you could toss aside all the lessons, fling money around at the tables, and you’ll find him regularly handing you ‘comps’; albeit for the wrong reasons.
Select the former, learn the lesson, add it to the other lessons already put into your game, and join me in the winner’s circle; you’ll find an abundance of money there. And, I honestly believe that much of that money is truly destined for your wallets or purses.
NB – Over your head a bit for now? Don’t worry! Read the whole series by D.M. Vadnais on the NoPayPOKER.com blog then go practice your free online poker skills on the main NoPayPOKER.com site. As our maestro says in previous articles, you can win real money playing real free poker on NoPayPOKER.com and with that fund your bankroll for the real deal when you go up to the live poker room bigs.