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Starting Hands Revealed
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Online Poker Tournaments and Cash Games are different
With the rise of online poker since the beginning of the Century, many new players get their first exposure to No-Limit Texas Hold'em Poker through online poker tournaments.
It has been a natural progression for many beginners to have learned tournament poker from professionals and fortunate amateurs on countless televised events. Many novice players even immersed themselves in no-limit poker books to build up their skills. They may even have become quite successful at Sit'n Gos or multi-table tournaments.
However, many of those players spill over into the no-limit ring games offered at online poker sites, but fail to make the necessary adjustments to their play. While it is true that in poker the most money is made in so-called ring games or cash games, a lot of players make critical mistakes when trying to transition into this format.
One simple but important thing to realize about cash games is the difference in structure compared to tournaments. In no-limit holdem poker tournaments, you pay a specific buy-in against an arbitrary amount of chips. These chips have no real cash value, and you can only make money by reaching the bubble and finishing in one of the top places. Or, you can lose your entire original buy-in.
On the other hand, in cash games you are playing with your own money. The chips in front of you on the table represent your hard-earned dollars. They are not to be treated like a tournament buy-in. You could be losing real money really fast, and no one will come to stop you from re-buying as many times times as you want, hoping to recoup your losses.
Another ring game mistake made by many tournament players is to play too aggressively too often. They also bluff more frequently than cash game players, trying to use the same relentless aggression that worked so well for them in tournaments. That playing style is simply unnecessary in cash games, where the blinds remain at the same level and nobody is worried to be knocked out.
It is natural to play more aggressively and to bluff more often in poker tournaments because your opponents will tend to be more timid and more willing to fold their hands in order to protect their stacks.
Regular cash game specialists will seek opportunities to trap their opponents when they have the best of it. There is not need to play a lot of hands and to combat the blinds in a cash game.
Just playing and winning one single large pot with pocket aces can be enough to make you a winner for the session. The great thing about playing online poker is that you do not need to worry about the other players at the table when you double-up and promptly leave the table.
Nowadays tournament-style play has become commonplace in no-limit ring games in many poker sites such as Bodog Poker. Many inexperienced players have an all-in mentality coming from loose tournament play. You will often see hands like AK versus QQ or AQ versus 77 where all the money goes in the middle pre flop.
This is not necessary and a sign of impatience, a serious leak in cash games poker. None of these hands are a favorite, meaning that those players are ok to risk their entire stack on a coin flip. This kind of play only makes sense in a . There you have to continually battle the blinds, you may be short stacked in the orange m-zone needing to double-up. Or you may be looking to put maximum pressure on your opponents in a very aggressive style of play.
In a cash game, it is recommended to wait for a better spot before getting in all of your money. Instead of risking to go broke when you have got tens, why not make a standard raise of 3 to 5 times the big blind and reevaluate on the flop? Patience is a highly rewarded quality in No-Limit Texas Hold'em cash games and there is no pressure to accumulate chips in order to maintain your relative stack size.
Unlike in a sit'n go or multi-table tournament, in a ring game you do not need to play until you either go broke or gain every chip at the table. The blinds are just a fixed cost for playing at the table, not an increasing constraint dictating your actions. If you are a new player, play tight and wait until you have a top hand in position.
As you gain experience, you can start opening up your starting hands requirements somehow. In ring games, you can take your chips off the table at any time and walk away. Playing a straightforward, patient and consistent game is usually the best strategy to crush no-limit online ring games.