Learn to play from the best pros in the world – Andrew Feldman, the high-stakes cash star, helps you maximise your profits
The British poker scene has never had it so good. Everywhere you look, Triple Crown winners, cash game crushers and tournament stars are dominating the tables and the headlines. But before the Brits took over, one high-stakes cash game star was making headllines of his own.
Three years ago, Andrew Feldman was part of a small band of UK high-stakes pros playing the biggest games online. And after a busy 2011, which saw him make final tables at the GUKPT Luton, Premier League Poker Mixed Game Championship and Coral Late Night Poker, Feldman has gone back to his cash game roots to help you fine-tune your game.
- I prefer playing online purely for its ease and availability, but I’ve grown to love the live game as well. The main difference between the two is definitely the speed of the game. You see so many more hands online, and if you’re just starting out you’ll progress a lot quicker.
- I always enjoyed computer games, and online poker can replicate that same adrenaline rush and need for high scores. It’s got the quick buzz, and that’s what I still really enjoy.
Know your foe
- Always concentrate on the dynamics of a cash game. The history you have with a player, game flow, your opponent’s mental state, their bet sizing, all these are key elements to beating any opponent.
- In any pot, it’s a good idea to visualise playing your opponent’s hand instead of your own. Inferior players often play very ABC poker, and by playing their hand you can see when they’re not playing optimally and define their ranges more easily.
- If you’re new to poker, start mixing up your game, raise your draws, check with a big hand occasionally and look for value wherever possible. Being predictable is the worst sin you can commit in poker.
- You can spot an ABC player within three hands, and good players will instantly recognise those who are calling too wide a range and not being the aggressor in pots. Look for players who are limping into pots, check-calling their draws and never value-betting the river.
- You’ll always know where you are in a pot with this sort of player. If they show any aggression, you should be able to get off big hands, and they’ll be susceptible to thin value bets on many different board textures.
- If you’re lucky enough to have a passive player at your table, isolate them whenever you can. Make sure you’re in position, and if they limp in and you’ve got a hand like T-8s with deep stacks, three-bet them relentlessly. Hands like these have great implied odds against weaker players, and you can easily muck if they start playing back at you.
Hello to aggro
- Try to always be the aggressor in the pot. Applying pressure when you have a big draw or made hand is the key to winning in cash games. By three-betting and four-betting, check-raising and overbetting, you can represent a much wider range than more passive players.
- Watch any live poker and generally when a good player is being hyper-aggressive they’ll either have an absolute airball, a hand that has a lot of equity like top pair and a flush draw, or the stone cold nuts. Raising with different holdings helps balance your range and keep your opponents on their toes.
Let ’em go
- When I started out I was guilty of overplaying my big pairs, and that’s a leak I still see a lot. Everyone hates to fold Kings on an Ace-high flop, but that’s part of cash games. Rather than playing a guessing game and getting all your money in, wait for a better spot.
- It’s important to understand your leaks, even if you’re a pro. Nowadays, my leak is that I don’t bluff enough, but I can use that to my advantage. If you feel players have done their research and are trying to isolate you based on their perception of your leaks, exploit it.
Beat the best
- If somebody has an edge on you, only sit on their table if you believe there are other soft spots you can exploit. You will inevitably butt heads with better players at the cash tables. If you find yourself in a hand against someone you feel has an edge on you, always have position and three-bet prefl op so that you take the lead in terms of aggression.
- In general, you’re not going to maximise value against superior players out of position, even if you have a big hand. You’ll get bluffed too often should the right board come. Even though you have to play poker with a mindset of money meaning nothing if you want to play optimally, when you’re out of position, better pros will be able to read you easily when they are last to act.
Profit is king
- If you don’t have time to wait around and avoid strong players, steer clear of heads-up cash games. You can’t have any ego in poker. The name of the game is making money, and you’ll only do that by avoiding experienced players and looking for those you know you have an edge over.
- If you’re a night owl and know how to play Omaha, check out the heads-up tables at 3 or 4am. Often you’ll fi nd a lot of drunk people looking to gamble. And drunk PLO players never have much of an edge.
From the ground up
- If you’re new to cash games, start at the very lowest stakes. I was playing $1 tournaments and $0.01/$0.02 cash games to learn all I could when I started. And don’t bother with play-money sites. Players don’t play the same game and you won’t learn from them.
- Ask people for advice all the time.Whenever you fi nish a session, look back over the key hands with someone more knowledgeable than you. This will accelerate your learning more than if you go it alone. About 90% of hands will be inconsequential, but analysing the other 10% is crucial to success.