You’re ready to jump into the game of cash game poker head- first, and that’s great. Maybe you’ve learned the basic strategy behind the game, and you have an idea of how to play a basically profitable poker strategy. You’re miles ahead of most players already, and you’ll probably scrape our a profit when you do play.
That being said, if you want to rise above the bottom feeding, marginally profitable players cluttering online poker tables, you’ve got to be the absolute best at what you do. So, what is it that you do? Silly question, right- you play poker. Sure you do, but so does everyone else.
Everyone you meet at the tables will know basic strategy, and probably a bit more. They play basic poker. Not every player will know the intricacies of the games they’re playing however, and this offers the shrewd player an opportunity to increase his edge.
Many players sitting at 6-max tables have no idea that their strategy should change from basic strategy, which is often taught geared towards full ring live players. Heads-up poker has a notoriously fishy player pool at lower stakes because most players have no clue how to adjust their strategy for such a quick game.
It is the player who knows how to take advantage of game structure that will profit over poor, non-thinking players. This is why it is so commonly recommended that players just beginning choose one form, choose it wisely, and stick with it.
Factors to Consider
When choosing your main game, there are five factors you will want to take into serious consideration:
1. State of the games
Are the games you’re looking at soft? Are they tough? Have you read on an old website that the games are super fishy? If so, you should check them out for yourself- often, information found on older sites has already been picked up by winning players, which could mean the games have been over saturated with sharks. That being said, if you can find out where most good players are playing (and there are really only a few saturated places online) you would do yourself a great service by avoiding those games.
2. Your current skill level
Honestly evaluate your poker skill. Most beginning players will have a good idea of starting hand selection, standard raise structures, and not much else. If this sounds like you, consider starting out in full-ring games, where you can slowly work on their post flop play until it is up to par for shorthanded games. Do you play well post flop? Can you put opponents on ranges of hands, and play accordingly? If so, you will probably find 6-max or heads up poker to be both fun and beatable.
3. Opponent’s tendencies
How do the opponents in the games you play think? Are they mostly gamblers, blowing their weekly paychecks playing random cards? Do they just like to play hands? Are they very tight, waiting for monsters? Knowing how your opponents are thinking will help you play against them, and will prove to be a significant portion of your edge in any game you play.
4. Your personality
Take into consideration your personality. Are you a patient person? Can you wait 10 minutes between hands to receive playable cards? Are you good with math? If so, full-ring would be a good game for you to start with. If you’re more of an action junkie, and you enjoy outplaying opponents mentally rather than based on mainly the cards you hold, 6-max or heads up would be good choices for you to start out with.
5. Your bankroll
Variance sucks, but it’s a part of the game, and you’ve got to protect your bankroll. Variance will be higher in short handed poker games, and you may want to keep some extra buy-ins in your bankroll to cover unexpected losses. Variance in heads up poker is the most extreme, followed by 6-max, and then full ring.
After you’ve picked your specialty, the key to huge profits is to simply study your butt off. You need to focus all of your poker time and energy on learning the intricacies of the game you’ve chosen. Knowing all the little things about the game that your opponents don’t will give you the edge you need to rake in money, day after day.
Maintain a solid tunnel-vision like focus on whatever game you choose. Don’t get too caught up in Internet poker communities (whose main intentions are to distract you from your game) as they will only waste your time and prevent you from increasing your skill.
Take what others say worth a grain of salt, and focus on what’s working for you. After a month of studying and playing your specialty game, are you winning? If so, keep working to stay ahead of the curve. Boredom will lead to complacency, which will lead to other players catching up to you in skill. As long as you can stay focused, you’ll be able to win for as long as you please.