I was watching a video of a live $5/$10 cash game, and I immediately noticed one mistake that most of the players were making on a consistent basis. And in my opinion, this is the number one mistake that cash game players make.
So, what is the number one mistake that cash game players make?
They play way too many hands!
To illustrate this, just take a look at the hand shown above from the $5/$10 cash game I was watching.
A player under the gun raises to $30 with , a player in middle position calls with , a player in the cutoff calls with and a player in the big blind calls with .
In my opinion, all of these hands should have been folded. Even though it is only $20 more for the player in the big blind to call with , he will be playing the hand from out of position. Because of that, the most likely outcome is that he is either going to be dominated and lose, or if he does win, he will only win a small pot. That said, if he knows everyone likes to play absolute junk, doesn’t look so bad.
If you recognize that you have this problem in your own game, here are four things you can do to fix it:
1. Whenever you are the first person to enter the pot, you need to make a point to raise
If you are a good cash game player, you might be able to win about 10 big blinds per hour. However, if you limp too often, you will find that it quickly kills your win rate.
If you remove open-limping from your game, it’s going to make you a better poker player.
2. When someone limps in front of you, do not limp with junk, hoping to flop well
You should fold your junk because it is unlikely flop a strong hand that can realistically put a lot of money in the pot. The hands you want to be calling with when people limp in front of you should be ones that have a huge amount of postflop potential.
3. Stop calling raises with junk
You should be calling raises with hands that are strong, but too weak to reraise:
Calling with offsuit hands like , , , and is particularly bad because you’re going to make a hand like top pair with a bad kicker fairly often, which is not what you want in a multi-way pot.
4. Start reraising more often
You should almost always be reraising with your premium hands, but also occasionally with some hands that are not good enough to call with:
If you occasionally mix in some of these marginal hands into your reraising range, it’s going to make you much more difficult to play against, and that’s definitely a good thing. That said, you should not reraise with them every time and should often use the suited hands as bluffs before the offsuit hands.
If you enjoyed this article, I recently taught a one-hour webinar where I explored this topic in a bit more depth.
If you’d like to watch this cash game webinar for free, visit JonathanLittlePoker.com/biggestmistake.
Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,300,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.