Chapter 2 : Random thoughts on Preflop Selection
In a tournament your preflop selection of hands is incredibly important. You must make good decisions as far as the strength of your hand is concerned because you can expect to be up against the strongest of hands that there are. In a cash game, depending on your opponents, use your imagination as to what they are playing because it could be anything. You want to look for anything at all that can give away the strength of their hand. For instance, I played with one player who still to this day (nobody gave up his tell) sighs whenever he has a monster hand. It has almost become instinctual as is my action afterward. I raise, he sighs and leans back in his chair, then throws in a huge raise. I muck before his bet hits the pot. I know he has it. He told me. Remember poker is a form of communication. Those who listen and learn to interpret the signals are winners. Those who are more interested in their IPOD's and that 17th beer are losers. It's just that simple. The point I'm trying to hammer home here is that it really doesn't matter at all what you play. It's what you do with it that matters. Cash games are about story weaving. You play any two cards and represent a hand. When I have a strong hand I like to represent a weaker hand and when I have a weak hand I like to represent a strong hand and vice versa. Mix it up. Keep your opponents guessing. This is generally completely opposite my tournament strategy which is to play weak hands strong and strong hands strong and keep my betting uniform throughout. I play so many different ways in a cash game because the opponents are generally the same for a long period of time so the same move might be recognized and not work the second time. Mix up your holdings and raises preflop. Limp with aces or raise huge. It doesn't really matter. Obviously a huge raise will signify you have aces, but you can "act" weak and still pull it off while inducing a reraise. Sometimes a slowplayed pair of aces will win you the biggest pot of the night. Sometimes you will allow your opponents to suck out on you and you will go broke. If you must slowplay a hand preflop, learn how to get away from it if the hand doesn't go your way. Aces are a great thing, but they aren't omnipotent. Learn how to get away from them if your read tells you that you are beat. The strongest of hands can be the biggest of losers in the cash games, and the worst hands imaginable can be the biggest winners. It's all a matter of how you play them.