It’s time to focus briefly on the Quality of Play aspects of the Bricks & Mortar (B&M) cash poker game.
To do so, I’d like to share some observations…all of which are credible estimates. However, no detail records have been kept by me; the card room management won’t allow me to keep a lap top at the felt table. And, that’s understandable. Could you imagine the clutter and vast amounts of time that would inundate the table and slow down the game?
Besides, while the game is only about money, no one is going to win money without bringing the requisite mental capacities to their seat at the table….if you can’t think poker, you can’t play poker.
On to the observations! At least 4 out of 5 players on the Internet, especially on free poker sites are donkies; yet, less than 2 out of 5 players at the B&M’s are donkies. At best, 1 out of 5 players on the Internet have some advanced degree of talent; whereas more than 2 out of 5 players at the B&M’s have some advanced degree of talent.
Somewhere around 1 out of 100 individuals are extremely good players in online poker; but, somewhere around 1 out of 10 individuals are extremely good players at the B &M’s.
Your chances of playing against a professional poker player on the Internet are almost zero, while your chances of playing against a professional poker player at the B & M’s are almost 100%…providing that your minimum play is with blinds of $5/$10.
So, if all of your No Limit cash game experience is tied to free online poker play, or, if all of your No Limit play is tied to poker tournament events on the Internet….NoPayPoker or otherwise….you’re going to walk into an environment at every B &M where the Quality of Play will present a very large challenge; a challenge that you’ll need to willingly accept, a challenge that you’ll need to openly welcome, and a challenge that you’ll need to be thoroughly prepared for.
Plus, here and now, accept the premise that this preparedness deals with risk tolerance, emotions management, patience, playable pockets, and practice-practice-practice…mostly with a mirror, teaching yourself to facially express the converse of the deceits you’re going to want to implement at the cash game table.
Therefore…do not approach a B &M cash game if you are not fully prepared to play well. I don’t want you giving away your money, I want you taking their money.
- On the free online poker tables you might often take the position that the names you’re playing against are donkies…don’t ever do that at a B & M.
- Ultimately, allow your well-spent time at the B &M’s cash table to assist you in making any such decision.
- On the Internet, you might often predispose yourself to an opinion regarding the absence of advanced talent on the part of your competitors…don’t ever do that at a B & M.
- Ultimately, let your personal observations at the B & M’s cash table provide the relevant information for you to form an educated opinion.
Additionally, don’t ever judge the proverbial book by it’s cover; whatever attire your competitors are wearing has little or no bearing on their level of skill.
Plus, there is no gender at a cash game table…no one is male, no one is female; they’re all just players.
Of note, however, unlike Internet poker, you will rarely see more than 1 out of 10 players who are female….and, I’m not sure why. I know quite a few truly remarkable and talented female poker players.
That aside, provocative, appealing, suggestive, inviting, alluring, handsome, attractive, sensual, disarming, sculpted, toned, thin, muscled, or any word denoting anatomical highlighting is non-existent.
- Let me repeat that…anatomical highlighting is non-existent.
- There is no gender at a cash game table.
- There is no Adonis, Brad Pitt or Marlboro Man.
- There is no Venus, Pamela Anderson, or Victoria’s Secret model.
- They’re all just players, they’re all genderless. They have to be, you can’t permit a distraction of any kind.
The texas Holdem No Limit cash game at a B & M is not an entertainment venue. Few, if any, players join a game to simply have ‘fun’.
- Their presence at the felt is centered around a singular goal; that goal is to take your money.
- They’re not interested in your friendship, your admiration, your respect, or your opinions; their interest rests exclusively in separating you from your cash.
- Come to accept this exactly as I have written it; your money is their goal.
- And, unlike the Internet, many of the B & M players possess the skill to do just that.
- No one is playing 64 off-suit; with the exception of the BB when only ‘limpers’ have entered the pot.
This is not the WSOP final table, where all of the participants know just about everything there is to know about everyone else…this is a cash game, where almost everyone knows next to nothing about almost everyone else (unless you’ve learned to use player notes).
Treat it as such. Let minutes and hours unfold where you maintain a Consistency of Focus (COF) that is unrelenting. This COF will fill your mind with countless bits of usable information. And, when the time arrives to put that information in play, do so with controlled aggression.
Deceptions aside, the B &M cash game is fundamentally an arena where aggression is rewarded.
Yet, I’m not talking about reckless abandon here, I’m talking about the situations where you’re in a clearly defined advantaged position.
And, you’ll need to choose aggression wisely. It should be a major factor in your game. In all honesty, it better be a major factor in your game. It can be used in many ways.
- You could initiate some mild aggression when you first sit down at the table.
- This use will be nothing more than a decoy…another deception.
- You’ll be donating a relatively small amount of money to your competitors; on purpose.
You’ll essentially be telling them that you’re an action player; thereby generating significant return action when you eventually get to hold a ‘nuts’ hand. Or, wait until you’ve built a decent size stack, then use it to ‘bully’ the table.
Either of the 2 choices can, should, and will move chips to your stack.
However, aggression can not be a constant in your game. It can not consume you, it must always be a singular tool that you can use to win…a tool that you occasionally take from a box that houses a multitude of tools.
The real constants will always be your playable pockets, patience, and the many deceptions you bring to the table.
Additionally, let’s be sure to select the right game, the right table.
- There is no need for you to start your No Limit B & M cash game play at the $1/$2 level.
- Take a look at all of the games first, and try to find a game where many of the players have a stack that equals your planned buy-in.
- The benefit of equivalent stacks rests in the possibility of you holding a ‘nuts’ hand when, or if, some competitor initiates an ill-timed all-in move.
- And, for reasons to be explained in a subsequent Article within this series of Articles, be sure that you select a $5/$10 game to begin your play.
However, to do so, to join a $5/$10 game, your buy-in needs to be in the area of $1,500.
And, hopefully, you’ll end up finding a game where 5 or 6 players have a stack that compares about equally to your stack.
Be advised, though, that before you buy-in, spend at least the better part of an hour observing the players in the game; memorize some mental notes as to the quality of their play, the style of their play, their money management techniques, their emotions management level, and their body language.
Once you have accomplished this, try to take the seat to the left of the best player at the table. And, allow the lessor players to be to your left.
You’ll want the good player to be making most of his decisions before you, and you’ll want all of the bad players to be making most of their decisions after you…for good reasons.
- The good player knows what he’s doing, he has demonstrated his expertise to you, you’ve watched him outplay the table, you’ve seen him take down pots with variations in his playing style, and you’ve observed his body language such that you may have registered a read on him.
- Great! keep him to your right, you’ll be sitting to his left; this way, almost all of his decisions are made prior to your decisions.
The bad players, again, should be to your left. You’ll want them to erroneously participate in the hands where you have a high probability of winning, and you’ll definitely want them to participate in the hands where you hold the ‘nuts’.
For the most part, we’ll have a standard operating procedure at the table…we’ll avoid the good player (or, players), and we’ll aggressively bet into the bad players when we’re in an advantaged situation.
Also, let’s be sure to select the right day for our trip to the felt table.
We certainly don’t want to be traveling to the B & M if we’re currently in a state of emotional disarray.
- We can’t be upset with family, friends, work, or financial matters.
- We can’t be tired as a result of a bad night’s sleep, excessive work around the house, or an unusual amount of hours spent on the job.
- And, we can’t be stressed from relationship issues, employment issues, or personal misgivings.
We need to be clear-headed, alert, responsive, and completely in balance with the ‘goings-on’ that surround us.
Plus, we need to address the issue of risk-tolerance with intelligent thought. We need to be certain that the cash we plan to use as a buy-in is viewed by us with something of an attitude that approaches indifference.
Not that we plan on losing…that would never be our intention. Yet, on any one day we could suffer from the negative effects of the ever whimsical Lady Luck…and, those effects, for this one day only, could be cause for our buy-in to regrettably disappear at the felt. It does happen; no matter how much skill we bring to the table.
Next, I want to offer up a few words about the five paint pockets…TT, JJ, QQ, KK, and AA. Which, I might add, I categorize into three distinct labels.
- The Tens and Jacks I like to call the ‘TROUBLE’ pockets.
- The Queens and Kings I like to call the ‘MONARCH’ pockets.
- The Aces, I like to call the ‘DOMINANT’ pocket.
Tens and Jacks are potential nightmares…almost disasters waiting to happen.
- Consider that there are 12 cards pre-flop that will bring about a disaster.
- And, let’s assume that at least one player who is in the hand holds a pocket Queen, or a pocket King, or a pocket Ace (a fairly safe assumption; else what the heck are they in the hand for in the first place).
- Therefore, the deck holds 11 cards that will cause us a massive headache if any one of them were to show on the flop.
- And, since there are 11 cards, the chances of any one of them appearing within the flop are approximately 66%.
So, taking the 66% into account, I think you’ll readily understand why I will rarely do anything other than ‘limp in’ with Tens or Jacks.
I have this propensity for wanting to avoid just about all circumstances where I’m forced to make a decision that needs to be made from a disadvantaged position.
Post-flop, if an Ace, King, or Queen have hit the board, and there is a bettor, I’m almost always folding. Again, I have a never ending disdain for continuing to play when I don’t hold the current ‘nuts’ hand. I’m only at the table to win, I’m not at the table to donate.
The Queens and Kings, the MONARCH pockets, are considerably more to my liking.
- Where the Queens get to go up against 7 cards (making the assumption that someone holds a pocket King, or a pocket Ace).
- And, the Kings get to go up against 3 cards (making the assumption that someone holds a pocket Ace).
- As such, the Queens have a 58% chance of surviving the flop, and the Kings have an 88% chance of surviving the flop.
- Thus, contingent on my player notes, contingent on my player observations, I’ll almost always call a moderate pre-flop raise with Queens, and I’ll almost always call an aggressive pre-flop raise with Kings.
However, since I’m not holding the ‘nut’ pre-flop hand, I’ll infrequently play either pair with purposeful aggression.
By that I mean I’ll hardly ever initiate the betting. Moreover, if I’m holding pocket Queens, and an Ace or King show on the flop, together with someone betting post-flop, I have little problem in laying down my pair…it’s not a current ‘nuts’ hand.
If I’m holding pocket Kings, and an Ace shows on the flop, together with someone betting post-flop, I’ll again have little problem in laying down my pair…it’s not a current ‘nuts’ hand.
The concept of laying down these big pairs, or any big hand that is not a current ‘nuts’ hand, is paramount to attaining a high monthly ROI.
If you’re not able to toss away what was once a very good hand, in the face of somewhat overwhelming evidence that it’s no longer a very good hand, you’re doomed to be no more than an average cash game player; winning on an occasional basis, losing on an occasional basis. And, by my standards, that’s just unacceptable. I play to win, not lose.
The Aces, the DOMINANT pocket, are a gift…a 1 in 220 gift. And, we need to treat them as such.
- I do not, however, always play pocket AA the same way; I would suggest that you do likewise.
- There is good and bad associated with every method of playing pocket Aces…y’all know them, I’ll not repeat them.
- But, believe it or not, there are times when I’ll actually ‘muck’ the 2 cards.
- And, again, I’m going to tell you that I only look stupid.
Let me give you an example…a time when I would certainly fold pocket Aces pre-flop.
- I’m the small blind…and I’ve been dealt pocket AA.
- The UG raises to 4X the big blind. M1 and M2 call.
- M3 raises to 12X the big blind. M4, L1, and L2, all call the 12X the big blind raise.
- Then, the DB goes all-in; essentially a bet that represents approximately 35X the big blind.
- Now, it’s my turn to call, raise, or fold. Wow, this is going to be one whale of a pot.
Two players called a 4X the BB raise, three players called a 12X the BB raise, and the next player went all-in.
- I’ve got to believe that each, or most, of the 12X the BB callers are going to call the all-in bet.
- That guarantees the hand will be played with at least 4 to 5 players.
- But, there could easily be more who will join in. The original raiser, and the two callers of the 4X the BB bet might enter the pot.
- Certainly, everyone is getting correct pot odds.
- Do the math, no PhD required. The hand could be played by 7 individuals.
But…am I getting the correct pot odds?
- Given all the participants in this particular hand, the probability of only a pair of Aces winning the pot are profoundly remote.
- So, I have a about a 1 in 5 chance of hitting a set (flop, turn, and river combined).
- Or, do I? No…I don’t think so. If that many players have entered the fray, the chances of one of them holding a pocket Ace are nearly 100%.
- This being true, I only have a 1 in 10 chance of hitting a set.
Frankly, with that many players in the pot, the likelihood is that two players hold a pocket Ace. And, with that being true, I have no possibility of hitting a set.
Moreover, who’s to say that a set will win this ‘lotto’ hand. Thus, I’d rather not play, I’d rather just toss the pocket Aces…I’ll wait, with patience, for my opportunity to take down a big pot when I’m holding a post-river ‘nuts’ hand. Patience, patience, patience…I doubt that I could ever talk enough about it.
Now, let me be the first to admit, the frequency in which the above described hand would actually happen has got to be close to zip; yet, it could happen. And, if you put some thought into it, you’ll likely come up with any number of situations that would provide a setting where 4 to 7 players were flinging vast sums of money around in a ‘lotto’ type hand.
Frankly, I’m fairly confident y’all have seen it happen; on more than one occasion. I’m even more confident that each of you are unable to count the number of times when you’ve seen pocket Aces get cracked.
So, when 4 or more players are tossing money around as though the world was about to end within the next few minutes, I’ll always toss the Aces away.
Simply stated, I don’t want to play in a hand where I’m not an ‘advantaged’ participant, or, better yet, where I’m not a guaranteed winner.
Why would I? This game is about winning, it’s about taking their money. It has nothing to do with gambling. In fact, I don’t gamble at all; never have, never will. Heck, I’ve never even bought a lottery ticket.
Best of Luck at the Tables
(c) copyright 2009; no reproduction, all rights reserved by D. M. Vadnais
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 texas holdem poker online on the main NoPayPOKER.com site. As our mastro says in previous articles, you can win real monet playing real free poker on NopayPOKER and with that fund your bankroll for the real deal when you go up to the B&M bigs.