Poker Cardroom Regulars
Visit a St. Louis Riverboat or a cardroom in suburban Seattle in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, and you will encounter tables filled with "regulars". A "regular" means someone who plays in the same cardroom several times a week, each week. You can find this kind of people also in Online Poker Websites. These people are easy to recognize. The employees greet them by name when they arrive and even comment on their arrival time as being either late, on-time, or early. They chat with dealers and each other in a manner that assumes a shared history. You would have to know about cardroom events from the last month to understand half the conversations. At the table, there are five sets of eyes sizing up you and your play. They are clearly studying you and not each other. The scrutiny can be unnerving, although it means that they don't know you at first (an advantage) and learning about them is easier since the familiar ways in which they treat each other conveys information.
Games filled with regulars have much in common with social home games. The players are there to pass the time, playing a game they all love, in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. The key difference is that the money is meaningful. It has to be, otherwise they would not be regulars. Unlike a home poker club where the same $20 gets passed around the same group of people, the stakes in these games are higher and the house gets a cut of each hand dealt. If the players are equally matched, over time the house will accumulate all the money as it gets passed back and forth. These are not zero-sum games.
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Strategic Considerations for Tight-passive Games
Primary reasons for the game - entertainment, money.
Money - little is available to win.
Competitiveness - low.
Cards. Players don't compete unless they have good cards. Expect that people paying to see the flop will have Aces, face cards, and pairs.
Cost. High in relation to the pot size. You rarely have the correct pot odds to chase. Chasing is a common and costly mistake in these games.
Number of players. 3 4 , the two blinds and maybe one or two callers. With few hands dealt, high cards and high pairs increase in value.
Opponent's playing style. Predictable and passive. Pre-flop raises are rare and usually mean a high pair or A, K. Bluffing is rare. If you are going head-to-head at the end against someone hoping they've bluffed, you are going to 10se.
Most Important Factor:
Position. Since players are predictable in these games, there is a lot of information available when you have an advantageous position. Acting after a solid player, who only bets strong cards, means that you know the strength of their cards before making a decision on your hand.
Frustrating Features of Tight-passive Games:
No action on your best hands. You flop a monster boat and get no callers. Your highest ranked hands of the playing session may generate little income.
Blinds can whittle away your chip pile. Pots are so small they often don't generate enough income to replenish your blinds. A big win to get yourself firmly in the black is hard to come by. Worse, if you fall behind, it is hard to catch up.
A Common Mistake:
Becoming too tight yourself. With so little money in each pot, there is a temptation not to bet your moderate hands. It is common in these games to see head-to-head play where no bets are made. The two players check to each other while the dealer runs the rest of the cards. Their thinking is, why risk anything for such a small pot? The problem is, you will not make money with this kind of passive play. If you have a decent hand, bet.
Make little wins add up. The key is to counter the general passivity with careful aggression. "Careful" is a strange adjective for aggression, but you need a good poker sense to know when to be aggressive. Because the players only play good cards, unrestrained aggression will not necessarily intimidate them. But if you establish yourself as a tight player by being in few hands and showing good cards early on, whenever you sense weakness or hesitation from the opposition, go for the pot, even if it is small. You have to steal a few small pots in these kinds of games or you will never cover your blinds. Knowing how to play your position is key. It is risky to bet ahead of tight players when you have marginal cards. If you act first and bet a marginal hand and a rock solid player calls or raises, its time to fold.
However, if you hold the same marginal hand in last position and the rock solid players check to you, a bet often wins the pot outright. In both these cases your cards may be the same, but your position determines which play is profitable.
Typically in tight-passive poker games, there is not much money on the table. An extreme tight-passive player buys-in for the table minimum and guards the chips, putting money in the pot only when they have a lock. You cannot win money that is not in play and you certainly can't win more money than is on the table. If you see three or more players at a table behaving in this manner, consider finding another game. Your profit potential is limited and if you do fall behind, you have no hope of catching up.
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