Andrew Robl: Cash game training with the high stakes pro

Does your online cash game play need some help? Michael Kaplan’s certainly does, so he’s called on Victory Poker pro Andrew Robl to analyse his game and plug his leaks…

It’s an early evening in Las Vegas. I should be doing something destructive – like gambling, drinking or burning money at Spearmint Rhino. Instead, I am sitting in my hotel room at the Wynn, waiting for the arrival of Andrew Robl. He’s promised to spend an hour or two watching as I play a cash session online and telling me all the things I’m doing wrong. I expect it to be a little brutal – I do a lot of things wrong when I play online poker. When he arrives I fire up my laptop and open a couple of tables. Let the leakfinding commence…

1. Game selection

When I want to play poker, I want to play poker. I admit I don’t spend enough time searching out optimal games. Typically, I jump into any empty seat at the stakes that suit me.

Robl reminds me that I need to look for the best tables if I want to maximise my potential profits. He tells me to seek out tables where players see a lot of flops, generate large pots, and play a lot of hands per hour.

Following a few false starts – where good tables fill up before I can get in – Robl sees that I am using Poker Copilot tracking software (I have a Mac and that’s what runs on it). ‘It’s inferior to Hold’em Manager,’ he says.

‘It’s not allowing you to get some of the important details on your opponents. It’s good to know how many hands they limp in with, how often they continuation bet, and how frequently they fold to raises and three-bets.’

2. Loosening up

As I begin playing, Robl notices that I am making my preflop decisions based on a chart that I downloaded from Truthfully, it’s my security blanket. I look at it before I make a play and stick with what it says. The thinking is that it will keep me out of trouble on future streets.

tells me that I’m not going to win much money playing in the chart’s out-of-step tight-is-right style. ‘I just saw you fold K-5 suited on the button,’ he says. ‘I would never consider folding that.’

He adds that even if the chart was up to date, being too reliant on it is a disaster. ‘You have a guy limping in every hand. You need to take advantage of him, regardless of what your chart tells you to do.’

3. Don’t assume the position

My standard thinking is that when I’m out of position, I need to tighten up and play nothing but my strongest hands. Robl insists that I’m getting carried away and costing myself money. ‘You’re afraid to raise out of position, but it’s something you need to do,’ he says. ‘You had A-Q once in the small blind and didn’t raise against two limpers.

Yes, you’re out of position, but against bad players who limp, you have them crushed. You need to make a pot-sized raise with that hand. In fact, I recommend raising more than the pot because you’re out of position and will be at a disadvantage postflop. You want to get your money in before the flop, while you have equity.’

4. Formulate a plan

I admit that when I play, it’s enough for me to consider the cards I am holding, to calculate the number of outs I have, and to come up with a decent guess as to what I might want to do. Robl says that it’s not enough if I plan on winning any money. ‘Your hand and the cards on the board are just a fraction of what you need to be thinking about – maybe 30%,’ he says.

‘You’re not considering your opponents’ potential hands, their stack sizes, their styles of play, their positions. You should also be thinking about how they will react if you check or bet. You have no plan. Mostly, you seem to bet because you want to see what will happen. That’s no good. At the very least, you need a logical reason to do whatever you plan on doing.’

In other words, I should be betting with the specific intention of getting a weaker opponent to call or a stronger opponent to fold – simple as that. If I’m not doing one of those two things, I have no business putting chips in the pot.

5. Size matters

In short, my betting parameters are entirely screwed up. I’m slow-playing big hands – with the hope of attracting action and not scaring away players – and the consequence is that I win small pots with monsters. Even worse, I’m putting out the right price for opponents to call me with draws and hit cards that will win the pot.

Robl advises making bolder plays when I have the goods – betting maybe two-thirds of the pot. ‘Plus,’ says Robl, ‘if you play your big hands a little faster, your bluffs will be a lot more effective. When you play big hands slowly and bluff with small hands, you become very easy to read and play against.’

6. Watch and learn

By the time the river comes, I admit that I’m usually a little confused. Because I haven’t been as proactive as I should have been, I’m unsure where I’m at and, frankly, I don’t know what the hell to do or why my opponents are making their particular plays. Robl says that this comes from a lack of experience. He advises me to watch how hands are played and to try putting people on hands even after I’ve folded.

‘By the river,’ he says, ‘I pretty much know what my weak opponents have and act accordingly. But it takes a lot of practice and a lot of experience to work those things out. The only way to get it is by playing. But you have to play intelligently and with your mind open to learning.’

7. Keep it simple

While the idea of multi-tabling sounds cool, and in practice it’s more fun than just playing one game at a time, Robl suggests that I keep things simple for the immediate future. His common-sense view is that I shouldn’t play more than one table until I’m soundly beating one table. ‘Additionally, keeping your play to one table will make the learning process more effective,’ he says.

‘You will think more clearly. Also, don’t go up in stakes until you’re ready. My suggestion is that you should stay exactly where you are and focus on doing as many things right as possible before you start making things harder on yourself.’

PokerPlayer magazine is now free on your phone or tablet! 

Download the latest version of PokerPlayer on Android or iOS now
Living in the US? Get American PokerPlayer for Android or iOS here

Pin It

Comments are closed.