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by Bart Hanson |  Published: Jun 25, 2014


May 28 — Getting tourney guys in cash games is a dream. Most run bad bluff lines, don’t value bet thinly, pot control too much and can’t fold top pair

As we find ourselves in the middle of the WSOP I figured that it would be a good time to discuss the adjustments that we should make playing against “tournament” players in a cash game. First of all, whenever we get into this situation it is an absolute dream for winning ring-game players. Most of the time players that play only tournaments are losing players in general. This is not always true, but in poker we usually have to deal with stereotypes and generalizations when dealing with unknowns. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to beat live tournaments that don’t have ridiculously high buy-ins because of the cost of travel and the high tournament entry fees. So if you find someone spending most of their playing time concentrating on lower buy-in tournaments, you can make the reasonable inference that they cannot beat cash games. Again, before you send in the scathing hate mail, there can always be exceptions to the rule. But when you take a look at the necessary bankroll to win the same hourly in tournaments as in a $2-$5 cash game, you realize that it needs to be exponentially larger.

When you get tournament specialists into a cash game some of their leaks become very exposed. Because they are used to playing a shorter-stacked style, one of the main things that they have difficulty doing is folding overpairs and top pair with good kickers. You will see these players lose tons of money not recognizing when their hand is not good in certain situations. For experienced cash-game players, sitting deep against these guys is like a giant freeroll because all you have to do is wait to flop two-pair or better against their big hands. Another big leak that these tourney players have is bluffing too much and in the wrong spots. Because they are used to people fighting for chips in tournaments where the blinds escalate and you need to sometimes make moves to survive, they always think that everyone else is bluffing. They do not properly adjust to the fact that a solid cash-game player is rarely continuation betting (c-betting) into more than three people as a bluff. They just always think that when someone bets on ragged boards as the preflop raiser they have A-K.

When you combine these two things together and also add the fact that when you win a pot in a tournament and actually gain chips it gives you an inherent advantage, you see why these players also play with a rampant style of over-pot controlling. Most are not capable of folding their big hands and do not want to be put into a situation where they are faced with making a tough decision. They therefore miss critical streets of value with medium-strength hands that more experienced cash-game players would almost always take advantage of. And it is not just pot controlling earlier streets where this value is missed out. On the river they feel like they do not want to open the betting round up for the same reasons and will often times check back hands that should be almost mandatory value bets.

So you can see as a cash-game player you should always welcome “tournament” players into your ring games. Their mistakes are common, frequent and easy to exploit.

June 1 — Sometimes you can check back a great double barrel turn card to risk less by waiting to see your opponents’ river action

As you become a more experienced no-limit player, you realize that a great way to increase your win rate is to learn the right cards to double-barrel bluff when you have the betting lead as the preflop raiser. Double barreling is a very complex concept, but to simplify things, most of the time if a disconnected, overcard comes to top pair on the turn, it usually will help your own range more than your opponent’s flop calling range. Say, for example, the flop comes out 9Heart Suit 3Club Suit 2Diamond Suit and we have isolation raised an early position limper with QSpade Suit JSpade Suit on the button in a $5-$5 game. We make a bet on the flop and the limper calls. The turn is the KSpade Suit and our opponent checks again. That KSpade Suit does much better for our own range than our opponent’s and unless he has made kings-up specifically, it is going to be very difficult for him to call.

However, there are some situations that bring about such good double-barrel turn cards that we can actually wait and risk nothing on our bluffs — to see what our opponent does on the river. This is called a “delayed double barrel.” A great example of this is usually when flops come out with a low pair in them and an ace (the ultimate scare card) comes on the turn. Let us take a look at a hand that I played at the Commerce Casino in the $5-$10 $500-$1,500 cap no-limit game. At this particular table the game was playing relatively loose and passive and it was a weekday afternoon. Three people had limped in front of me with medium-sized stacks and I looked down at KHeart Suit QHeart Suit from the cutoff. I decided to raise it up to $60. Two of the limpers called in front of me. The flop ran out 5Club Suit 5Spade Suit 2Heart Suit and both players checked. Now even though there is a strong chance that at least one of my opponents had limp/called with a pocket pair, I love firing multiple streets with these boards because it is very difficult for someone to play a big pot with a hand like 6-6, especially when multiple overcards come on the turn and on the river. I decided for this reason to bet a little bit larger to start to intimidate my opponents, leading to larger sizing on future streets and put in $140. The first limper folded and the player to my right thought for a minute and called. The turn was the ASpade Suit and he checked again. Now on the surface this looked like one of the best double-barrel cards in the deck, which it was.

However, I thought that on the off chance that my opponent was slow playing something like pocket deuces or a five, I would find out about it on the river. Occasionally guys will also check/call paired boards like this with A-J, A-Q or A-K as well and he would be sure to bet those holdings also. So by checking back what looks like the perfect bluff card I actually risk nothing. And so long as I am confident that he is not the type to make a move at the pot I like the play. Obviously this is a player-dependent situation, but against this particular villain, I knew that he was straightforward and that I did not have to worry about getting bluffed off the hand. The river was the 9Club Suit and the limper came out and fired $400. I commented that he must be strong and insta-folded. He showed me ADiamond Suit 5Diamond Suit for a turned full house.

The beautiful part about this delayed double-barrel is that if he had a hand like pocket sixes, he would have simply check/folded the river. I would have been able to get away with risking absolutely nothing. This concept is similar to the same way we can delay flop c-bet boards that should really smack our raising range as the preflop raiser and wait to see what our opponent does on the turn. ♠

Follow Bart for daily strategy tips on Twitter @CrushLivePoker and @BartHanson. Check out his poker training site exclusively made for live cash game play at where he produces weekly podcasts and live training videos.