Most Texas Hold ‘Em players know that this game can be played either in a tournament setting or a single table setting (single table is also known as a ‘cash game’). But did you know that there are certain tips and techniques that apply to each style of game? Well, there are, and the players who use these tips and techniques will enhance their chances of winning, regardless of whether they are playing tournaments or single tables.
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Tips for Playing Single Table/Cash Games:
- Before you even think about playing a cash game for real money, you should have a limit in mind. This is the amount of money you are willing to lose before quitting. It is a simple fact that you are not going to win every time you sit down to play. There will be nights when you lose, and knowing, in advance, when it is time to quit, and sticking to that decision, can save you from getting deeply in debt.
- Unlike tournament play where you simply post a certain amount of money and begin play, single table play allows you to put on the table as much money as you wish. But how do you how much money to put on the table? Well, a good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 times the big blind. If the big blind for the game you want to join is $2 then you should have at least $20 to put on the table. Now, this is the minimum amount that you want to start with. You don’t want to go into a cash game with only a couple of bucks because unless you win right off you’ll get blinded out and, frankly, would have wasted your money.
- If you are going to play single table online, one of the very best tips we can share with you is this: Before you sit down at a table, take a few minutes to look over the tables that meet your budget. In other words, if you are planning to play at $3/$6 tables, pick out a few of those tables and then watch the play before you decide which one to play at. And what are you looking for?
Most of the better online Texas Hold ‘Em sites keep track of the hands at each table and reduce this information down for you. You want to find that stat page for the table you are watching. One of the most important stats that you will see is: Percentage of Players Pre-Flop. Now, it may be called something else, but it will be there and you need to check that number. You don’t want to play at a table where more than 25-30% of the players are going to the flop. The fewer players going to the flop, the better. One thing to keep in mind is that this number usually goes down as the amount of the blinds goes up. A nickel/dime table may very well have upwards of 80% going to the flop. This is because it doesn’t cost a player very much money at all to see the flop. On the other hand, a $3/$6 table may only have 15% going to the flop because the players don’t want to pay $6 just to see a flop unless they have a strong hand to begin with.
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Use this Pre-Flop percentage to narrow your search. Once you have a few tables in mind that meet the Pre-Flop percentage that you are looking for, go to the table and observe a few hands before you actually sit down and post the blind to get into the game.
What you are looking for here is if this is a tight table or a loose table and if there are any aggressive betters at the table. There are pro’s and con’s to playing each type of table, and even pro’s and con’s to playing aggressive betters. As your skill level increases you will know which type of table is best suited for your style of play.
In general, a tight table is a good choice. At a tight table you won’t be faced with a lot of over-the-top raises and re-raises. The pots won’t be as big, but you won’t be faced with as many panic plays as you would at a loose table where every one raises and re-raises and you don’t know who is being honest and has a hand and who is bluffing. If you are new to the game, stick with a tight table for now.
Now if you are gutsy player and your bankroll can stand it, perhaps a loose table is for you. If you keep your senses about you and understand that no one gets killer hands with every deal (which is what a loose player tries to represent) you can do very well at a loose table. But keep in mind there is more risk here than at a tight table. Also keep in mind that it will very probably cost you more to see a flop (if you have to often call a pre-flop raise) than it would at a tighter table (where more players tend to limp in rather than raise).
- Once you decide on which table to play, go ahead and get a seat. Now you have to decide what style of play you want to present to the other players. For the most part, setting yourself up as a tight, conservative player at the beginning of your game is good idea. Players tend to respect tight players more so than loose, aggressive players.
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- Tips for Tournament Play
In tournament play you won’t have to worry about picking your table. The tournament director will assign each player to a table and that is that. Before play begins, however, there are a few things you should do.
The most important piece of information you need before play begins is how many players are in the tournament. The more players sign up for the game, the more careful you must be in the early stages of the tournament.
The key to winning tournaments in the early stages is survival.
If you are new to tournament play, you may be amazed at how many people will go ALL IN during the first hour of play, and lose! Well, let them lose, let them make their All In moves and wave good bye to them as they leave the tournament.
Now if you have a killer hand and someone goes All In against you, then have to call them or at least think very seriously about calling them. In a tournament with more than 100 players, you will, sooner or later, have to issue your own All In or call some All In’s just to keep your stack up. The trick, of course, is knowing when to do it and when to not do it.
In the early stages of a big tournament, however, play tight. Play your good hands, but fold those weak hands. Stay alive, that’s the key for now.
Once you make it through the first stage of a tournament you need to become a bit more aggressive. It’s time to start playing more hands, but, still, use caution. In tournament play the blinds go up at a pre-determined pace and you need to win some hands just to keep up with them.
As the game progresses and your stack grows, you can use that big stack to push some players out. How you play a big stack is up to you. There are two schools of thought. One recommends that you protect your stack for as long as possible. The other is that you use your stack to raise to lower stacks in the hopes that they will fold rather than risk a big percentage of their chips to make the call. There is good and bad with each school, and the style you choose to use is very much up to your own personality. If you are comfortable using your stack as a weapon, then go for it. If you’re not comfortable pushing other players, then lay back a bit and try to protect it while at the same time winning as many more pots as you can.
Lastly, take some time if you are new to tournaments and enter a “Play Money” tournament. You can get more experience in those two to four hours of play than you can imagine, and, besides, they are fun.