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Ten Sins of Poker

it's a list, I know you love lists

23
July
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Top 10 worst things to do in a cash game
1)?smooth call? with aces pre-flop/slow play any big hand
2)check raise
3)chase draws too far
4)refuse to fold a big hand
5)not re raise pre with big pairs
6)call a re raise with a marginal hand pre flop
7)limp in
8)bluff
9)tilt
10)play more tables than you can handle

These 10 sins are not in any order, and I have to stress that these rules are strictly for lower level cash games, no higher than .50/1.00 blinds. The people you may see on T.V. do all sorts of clever things that, if attempted at a lower level game, simply wouldn't fly. You can only play as clever and trappy as your competition will dictate. Doing things like ?smooth calling? (calling rather than raising with a big hand) is more prone to lead to disaster or a small pot won, rather than yielding the induced all in that one might think after watching a clip of the world series of poker. By not raising you allow drawing hands free access to hit the card that will turn your session into a loosing one. Further still, by not raising you are keeping the pot size small, and when you have a big hand that is the last thing you want to do. The most common explanation for betting small or simply just calling with a huge hand is that the person did not want to ?scare? the person with a raise. This is one of the most backwards things I have ever heard because in reality, when someone see's someone routinely throwing out big bets, they instinctively think that they are being bluffed. The sirens really go off that someone has a big hand when they are checking in strange spots. In an attempt to reel a person in, you are in fact letting out too much line, and in affect completely tipping your hand.

The check raise at low stakes is one of the silliest things someone can do. For one, when someone check raises me, I am so bothered that I spend the rest of my session trying to end that person's poker life. It is such a vulgar ineffective move that it really should be taken out of any low stakes players arsenal. Nine times out of ten at the lower stakes a check raise implies a very strong hand, and thus you might as well be showing your pocket aces because everyone can see them. At higher levels a check raise is a common move that can imply anything, but at the lower stakes only hillbilly scum would use such a play.

Chasing draws too far is pretty much self-explanatory. The big question is, when is it too far? This is where you need to know who you are playing against. A solid poker player should be able to pick out a strait or flush draw a mile away, and thus, even if you hit your draw, you wont make much after the fact. Draws work wonderfully against beginners because they can't put betting patterns together as well and they won't know when you have a draw. Make sure you aren't sacrificing too much of your stack for the implied odds that a draw may yield. This can get fairly mathematical and so if anyone has any specific questions on this I will be more than happy to address them.

Folding a big hand like k-k or q-q after the flop is something that is never fun. You get these hands so rarely that once you do, it is devastating when the flop comes a-7-3. However, if you believe someone holds a hand like a-j, or any ace for that matter, you must get rid of your hand before you go down with it like the captain from the Titanic.

If you get a big hand like j-j, q-q, k-k, a-a, a-k, or 10-10, you must re raise an initial raiser pre flop. As stated earlier, smooth calling is unacceptable. Suppose you are playing .25/.50 and you and an opponent have 40$ in front of you. He raises to 1.50 and you have qq. Always make it at least 3 times his initial raise, so I would probably make it 5 dollars. This way you get a clear idea of where you are in the hand. Suppose that player re raises you all in after you three bet him. If you think he is a solid player you may be able to throw the queens away, something you would not have been able to do had you not re raised him because you would have had no idea where you were in the hand. Re-raising also builds the pot, and when the pot is big, good people do bad things. It is your goal to get someone to do something stupid. After hands people may say things like ?why the hell did I do that?!?, and you can think to yourself, ?because I put pressure on you by re raising and listening to Ben's cool blog?.

Calling a re raise with a marginal hand pre flop is something that I can admit I am guilty of. Getting re raised is never fun, its akin to being slapped in the face if you ask me. You make an honest raise and then some big shot wants to take you off you hand before you can even see a flop. This is where the experience comes in. What is your position, his position, your chips stack, his chip stack, his playing style, your image? Are you feeling lucky punk? It is all a feel thing whether or not you want to call, but calling a re raise is generally not something you want to get into the habit of doing. You want to be the aggressor, not the agressed. <--not a word.

Don't ever limp in. Yikes, if I had a nickle for every time I saw someone limp into a pot, I would have a bucket load of nickels. It doesn't accomplish anything, and it just adds gas to a good players fire. I absolutely love going to tables where I see ?call, call, call?. It gets the juices flowing, makes me feel young again. Calling the blinds is the surest fire sign of a fish and its what makes the poker world go round.

Bluffing is generally not a good thing because people do not like to fold. That is also why value betting and not slow playing is such a great thing, because people love to call! I am a proponent of firing out a small continuation bet after the flop if you raised pre flop, but after that I shut down for the most part if I don't have anything. Bluffing may work a few times, but big time bluffers at the low levels are the best kind of action going. I've talked to people who would call just because they do not want to be bluffed. (They are usually loosing players), but it is true that people will do anything to avoid being bluffed. It is like being Mutombo'd in basketball or rocked by a free safety in football, it is just not fun.

Never tilt. Tilt is when you get angry for whatever reason and do not play the same. Suppose you just got a horrible beat and are on edge. Everyone else at the table doesn't feel and for you, in fact, they hope you are steaming mad. They are like vultures waiting for you to roll over and die, and once you start playing differently after a big loss, it is very easy to tell. (Sometimes I pretend to tilt to get some action, because in reality I could lose a billion dollar hand and I wouldn't change my play), but a great amount of people cannot take a bad loss. If you feel like you are playing differently because you are angry then it is best to close your computer and eat some sun flower seeds. This is easier said than done, because when most people lose money, they want to win it back as soon as possible, a recipe for disaster. Poker is a game of patience, and tilt is the complete opposite.

Playing more tables than you can handle is not so simple. I can ?handle? (keep up) with 30 tables if I wanted to, but I will not be able to concentrate as well on each table. I play my best when I am playing four tables, and I make the most money when I can concentrate the most. It is a delicate balance and one that you want to be aware of. Only play what you can handle and don't worry what ole Boston pkt 8's is up to.

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