Over the weekend I got a question from fellow poker player about what to do if you have not only gone “card dead” but “situation dead” as well. Certainly we have all gone through those periods multiple times where we are card dead. It is no fun when it happens and you have to get pretty creative in your plays when it does. However, “situation dead” is a different story. While I have been in some pretty tough spots at times, actually being situation dead is another story.
First of all, lets address “card dead” There are going to be times whether you are playing in a tournament or a cash ring game that you just can’t get any decent hands to play. 2-6, 3-T, 9-4, 8-2, hand after hand after hand. This problem can be compounded if you are at a table full of aggressive players. Being card dead with aggressive players at the table sucks because you feel like if you get too jiggy with it, they are just going to re-raise and punish you. To this I say:” Patience, Patience, Patience”
The worse mistake you can make, and most of us do at one time or another when we are card dead, is getting in a hurry and playing a sub-premium hand like it is a premium hand. You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole and if you are not getting dealt any cards, you have no choice but to wait it out OR look for a situation. (more on situations in a second)
The only time you want to even try pounding that square peg into the round hole is if you have a compelling reason to do so. ie, you are in a tournament and don’t have enough blinds to last much longer. At this point (and you can decide when it is because many things affect this. How close are you to the money? The next level? etc etc) you are better off getting your money into the pot while you still have enough chips to be relevant. If you don’t you will end up getting your money in when it is insignificant and all the big stacks call you and put you out no matter what cards you have. Better to play when you can still make a difference.
Here is an example: You are in the middle stages of a multi-table tournament, in middle position and you have been card dead for awhile. You have a chip stack of $2500 and everyone else at the table ranges from $5000-$10,000. The Blinds are $500/$250 You are dealt A-4. Normally you would fold this hand. However, with the blinds where they are, you have to make a move soon.
GO ALL IN.
Best case scenario, everyone folds. Their chip stacks are not so large that $2500 wouldn’t hurt. This is the time to make a play. If you try this when you have $1000 left, you are going to be called by multiple players with any two cards because it is worth it to try and put you out. At this point, they have to think before they call. Take advantage of it and try to get back in the game.
Conversely, if you are playing a cash game, you can be more selective. Obviously, you can’t just sit and watch your bankroll get blinded away, but you can look for spots or situations to get in and intimidate someone into at least giving up the blinds now and then to keep you in the game. Plus, if you are being selective, when you do make a more, players will give it much more credence since you have not been playing many hands.
What generally happens, though, is that most of us are “action junkies” We want to be involved in hands and we aren’t playing poker to sit and watch everyone else play. This leads to making poor decisions and pushing too hard with cards that should have been folded in the first place. Do not give into this temptation. When you are card dead, be selective and tight and pick some spots.
What do I mean by “pick some spots?” Well, that brings us to the question of being “situation dead” and I will address that tomorrow because it is a bit tougher question than being card dead and it takes an understanding of one to address the other.
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