The most common problem with new players is that they want to play too many hands, forever hoping that the card they need will turn up. Make no mistake: the odds are against them. Instead, the best strategy is to play only those hands that have a chance of winning from the start. Keep an eye on the stats for a table before sitting down. Tables with high-flop player percentages are the ones where more players are staying in to see if their cards will improve with the flop. High percentages here are a good sign that there are a lot of new players at the table.
A low average pot size means that many of the players are folding to bets on the flop; this can be good or bad. You can probably get away with betting on a relatively weak hand, scaring off many of the players. The downside, though, is that the players with genuinely good hands will stay in. Pay close attention to the Turn (or Fourth Street) and River (Fifth Street) bettors in this case.
The opposite of this are the tables with a low flop percentage, meaning the players are tight and playing only the hands that are smart bets. This is a good place to try to scare away players by betting pre-flop, and take the antes and blinds. However, if they do stay in and play out the hand, because of their tight playing style, you can be pretty sure that they’ve got a great hand.
Tables you should avoid are those with high pre-flop percentages and large average pot sizes: these are tables where the players stay in a long time, raise wildly and generally cannot be bluffed. It’s tough to make hands work at tables like these, even with good hands, without a bit of luck you will still end up losing.
Should I play Sit and Go, Tournament or Cash Game?
I suppose it would be too easy to answer, “It depends.”
And yet, it depends. It depends on many factors, which we’ll discuss in the following paragraphs:
1. How much Poker time you have:
- Less than one hour: A SnG turbo or cash game
- 1 hour: This is the standard duration of a Sit and Go. You will go through all the phases of a tournament at high speed, the first rounds being useful for calmly increasing your stack. The turbo tournaments – at noon or at midnight – usually last about an hour as well, due to the rapid increase in blinds.
- Many hours: if time is not a deciding factor, all choices remain open to you.
- Undetermined: The cash game is the best choice if you have pressing obligations, like a better half.
2. Your temperament:
- You are patient, attentive, and you are in control of your emotions in the event of a hard hit: you have the profile of a 10-player cash game participant. Wait for good hands, trap your opponents, and collect their rakes.
- You like competition, the valuable rewards, and the pressure: you have the profile of a tournament player. The essence of poker is competition, but tournaments are the most gratifying form available. In fact, your victories at cash games will always be silent, whereas it’s always a pleasure to take a tournament having beaten 100, 200 or even 1000 players.
- You need action, to see many hands and to play your opponents as much as your cards: you have the profile of a short-handed player. Whether it’s a cash game or a tournament, you need to play poker with as few players as possible around the table in order to satisfy your rhythm.
3. Your budget or bankroll
According to your means, and above all your ability to deal with bad patches. Actually, it’s easier to control ones losses and to be on tilt at a tournament or SnG than at a cash game table. At a cash game table, you will probably end up losing one or more rakes and that can cost you a lot of money quickly. At a SnG or tournament table, it’s easier to control one’s losses. By the same token, though, the cash game tends to be more lucrative for a good player.
4. Your previous experience
You may have discovered poker through television, an ad, or more likely through a friend who gave you the poker bug. Hence, you get into the habit of playing the same way you began. My advice is to test all three types of poker, because they provide sufficiently different experiences in terms of diverse and complementary sensations.
Enjoying SnGs, tournaments, or cash games depends on a complex chemistry within the player, which responds differently depending on many factors.
Try each type for at least a few hours in order to find out where you’ll be most comfortable. Don’t limit yourself to one type of game without having tried the others at least once, or you may miss out on the type of poker you’re best at.
5. Our advice for choosing a Poekr table
You’ll hear some players swear by tournaments. Others will play 8 SnGs at the same time and make a living off it. But most players win at cash games. To me, the cash game is real poker, the kind that will make you improve your game in every aspect and will help you to discover the subtlety of this magnificent game.
We therefore advise you to divide your poker time up in the following manner:
60% for cash games
20% for SnGs
20% for tournaments
Keep in mind that the most important is to keep the game fun so that poker remains a passion – one that may bring in a little money now and then, but above all a passion.