Crucial Concepts in NLHE six-max cash games



Going through the mistakes that poker players make, it becomes pretty evident that most players seem to be locked in a downward spiral committing the same mistakes over and over again. In this article I will be taking a look at a few of those mistakes that hopefully can then be corrected in a very short space of time.

#1     Defending your blinds

It is never going to be profitable sitting in the blind seats and you are going to have to come to terms with this fact pretty quickly. A combination of having to place money into the pot without getting to see your cards first and having bad position throughout the hand is a terrible handicap to have to endure.

You need to be folding a very high percentage of your hands and this includes the big blind as well. The rest of the time you should strive to balance your play between folding and calling depending on the level of action before it gets to you and who has raised, as well as the content of your hand and the history of the game.

#2     Not paying attention to flop textures

If you raise from the button with a hand like 8c-7c and both blinds call you then you are going to have to proceed with far more care than against only one opponent. If the flop comes Qc-Jh-6h then your chances of taking this pot with a continuation bet have been greatly reduced.

We have two cards in the playing zone and both of your opponents appear to have liked their hand. Likewise if you raise with that exact same hand and both blinds call you again only this time the flop comes something like 4h-4c-2d then you may have a hard time convincing both opponents that you have an overpair and one of them will probably call you and the better players may be looking to check-raise.

In this example, you have to remember that raising with a suited connector is injecting a decent level of deception into the hand and your raise is sending out the message of “high cards” to your opponents. Once the flop appears then your two opponents are not going to be taking you for having connected with that flop unless you have something like a pocket pair.

An even worse scenario may arise if you open raise from the button with hand like 6d-5d and both blinds call you. The flop comes 4h-3d-3c, both opponents check to you and you make a two-thirds of the pot continuation bet with your straight draw. The small blind folds but the big blind who is relatively short stacked overbets the pot and moves all in.

You have no implied odds on your call and you are now making a purely pot odds decision. If you are not getting the proper odds for your call then you must fold, but in this instance then not only have you lost your bet on the flop but you have also lost out on the chance to take your opponents stack as a deuce or a seven coming on the turn will still look like it missed you to your opponent.

Also if a high card flops like an Ace or a King then you are better placed to represent that hand as a pre-flop raiser. But the texture of the flop is a critical feature of No Limit Hold’em play, and ignoring this area of the game will seriously impede any player’s chances of success.

#3     Calling raises with weak hands

There seems to be a very serious sub-culture in Hold’em in which players call raises with speculative hands looking to either hit a big flop or to outplay someone post flop. This type of play has been strongly re-enforced by televised tournament poker. But as we all know, televised tournament poker is a long way removed from cash games.

There are no escalating blinds in cash games so there is no need to accumulate chips by taking risks like there is in tournament poker. Plus the final stages of poker tournaments tend to get even more hectic where the blind to stack ratio is very small. But continuing this theme in cash games is not profitable on the whole.

One of the objectives for calling a raise with a speculative hand is not going to happen frequently enough, and that is to make a big hand. When you miss the flop (which you will do a large percentage of the time) then you are left with only two alternatives. These are either to fold and take the loss, or to try and outplay your opponent by either raising them on the flop or looking to float them on the flop and then trying to take the pot away from them on the turn.

These are highly risky plays and very expensive when they go wrong. But you will not be able to outplay your opponents often enough to compensate for your losses. Now when you go heads up with a raiser then what you are doing is a combination of one of two things, or in many cases both combined: you are either going up against a strong hand (because they raised) or you are going up against a player who is showing a strong intention that they want to play their hand (whether it is strong or not). This second reason is one that many players fail to take on board but this can leave you outplayed or outmuscled purely because your opponent had the nerve to push you even harder than you are prepared to push them.

Do not blindly think that you are making a clever play by calling a raiser even when you have position with a mediocre hand. A combination of going up against a strong hand or a strong intention or both will often mean that it is you who will be the loser and not your opponent.

Also the size of the stacks tends not to be as large in online games as they are in live cash games, and many players short stack online, which essentially means that your implied odds will be nowhere near what they should be in certain situations. Remember these three types of error and remember them well, and you should be well armed to navigate six-max NLHE cash games in the future if you do not repeat them.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is sponsored by Cake Poker and can be seen at www.cakepoker.com/thedean and at www.pokersharkpool.com

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