How to Control a Poker Cash Game Table: No Limit Hold'em
My main goal when I play poker is to maximize my chances of making a profit over the long-term. To achieve this goal, I play aggressively and confuse my opponents to make fatal mistakes in the pots they are playing against me. You can place any chip you want in no-limit hold'em. This dynamic allows me to exploit my weaker opponents for maximum value.
When I sit down at a cash-only table, I immediately buy-in for the maximum amount. I then begin to analyze each player seated around my table. I am able to develop player dependent readings by analysing stack sizes, how chips are stacked, attire, the type of beverage they have, and how relaxed each player is. I can tell who has played at the poker table and who doesn’t without ever having to play a hand. This is where I start to identify the opponents I would like to test and get more information.
I will begin a session slowly, playing tight and just observing each opponent's hands. I want the stronger players to think I am a tight-aggressive player who doesn't get involved too much. My opponents respect me when I get involved. They think that I have a strong hand and are willing to place bets or raises. I change gears depending on the table flow and the hands that I am dealt at certain points on the table. There will be occasions when I open-raise five consecutive times, while there will be others where I open fold ten times per session. It all depends on the adjustments I make to finally beat my opponents.
Until I play against them, the weaker players won't be able to recognize me as I'm at their table. I already know a lot about their play and how they react to certain bets before I even get into a hand. My goal in poker is to get as much information from my opponents as possible, while not giving away any information to anyone else. Poker is a game that requires incomplete information. I try to keep my information as limited as possible while still gaining as much as I can. Each piece of information is vital because you never know when you might be required to provide prior information in order to make the best possible hand.
It is rare that you will hear me speaking at a table. I also have headphones on most of the time so it gives the impression that I am not paying attention to anything. When I hear the chatter at the table, I turn off my music to listen to what specific opponents are saying and how they play certain hands. I don't know they are listening and have valuable information to use during the final stages of a session, when I play against them.
To confuse weaker opponents, I enjoy telling them false-tells. I'm a weak person when I'm strong and strong when I'm weak. This is only applicable to certain opponents who don't know what I do. If I feel my opponents have picked it up, I will mix in strong tells when my strength is high and weak tells whenever I'm weak to balance out my image.
Parx Casino has a maximum buy in of $1,000 for the 2/5 NL games. Every other casino I've been to caps their buy-in at $500. This is something I don't like because I want to win the most money possible when I get a hand that's amazing. A strong and solid player will have a huge advantage by being extremely deep stacked. My stack size was discovered about 8 hours into my session last Wednesday, and I was able capitalize on it.
I am in the cutoff at $1250. The table folds to me, and I raise to $20 using the KJ suited with spades. The $1050-lowest player makes the call in big blind. We see a flop with AQ10 rainbow. (I flopped the nuts). My opponent puts $55 in the pot. I wait about 30 seconds before making the call. My opponent immediately places $200 in the pot when it comes to a blank 5. I tank again for around a minute and then call. My opponent thinks that the river will be a 2. He then places a $375 wager. I wait for 2 minutes, then declare all in. My opponent calls without hesitation and tables AQ believing he might be good. However, I am sadly wrong as I flip the flopped straight and take all his chips. He calls and knocks on the table with a nice hand. It's a simple game, isn’t it?
My opponent made a terrible mistake on the river. I would have checked the pot control if I were in his position against myself. I would also have called any size bet hoping to get on the river. I would fold to any bet above $300 if the river hit a blank. I knew I was likely to lose (any set or straight would have me defeated and the way I played it would show that). My opponent was not paying attention to my game and saw only the value of his hand and not all the possible hands. After having already invested more than $500 in the pot, he deemed himself pot committed.
It is easier to take control of the table when everyone fears me. Every player should fear me because they know that if I play a hand against them, it could affect every chip. After that huge hand, I knew no one wanted to play with me. I was able make more money by playing smaller pots with the initiative and inducing folds. I was card-dead for the entire session, but I don't care about the value of my cards because I know how each opponent plays certain hands at certain points. I know when an opponent can be taken out of a hand and when I must fold. It is not the same thing as winning money.
Each opponent should have no idea what I might hold. However, I need to know the range of hands they have in each pot. My cards are still a mystery to my opponents, who are basically playing face-up. It will cost money to solve the mystery. If you choose to pay to see the cards, you will have the best hand and will rake in the cash.
Because you need to be able analyze every situation with keen observation, statistics and table dynamics, this aggressive style of playing takes a ridiculous amount of time. I will be demonstrating how to play specific hands at specific tables in future posts. The most important factors are position and initiative. Don't forget to click Playing Loose Tables at Low Limits - How to Win At Loose Tables