Two-time WSOP winner Scott Fischman has joined the team and is here to answer your questions
Recently I’ve been suffering from a rather dramatic shift in fortunes. I’ve been playing online for over a year and a half now (on Paradise Poker) and it used to be that my cash game play was nothing but loss after loss, to the point I stopped playing ring games. I stuck to STTs and did okay. Now it’s totally the opposite. My cash game is doing great, but I can’t seem to finish in the money in sit-and-gos. So is there a major difference in strategy required for cash games?
SF: Yes, there is a major difference. My suggestion is to stick to either cash games OR tournaments at one time, as each format requires different skills. If you’re doing well in cash games, keep playing those. When things begin to shift, go back to tournaments and sit-and-gos and make a conscious effort to notice what changes you need to make to your game to be successful. The transition between cash games and tournaments is in your strategy as well as in your mindset. For example, I’ll lay down pocket Aces in the first hand of a major tournament, which I would never do in a cash game, because the value of me remaining in the tournament is greater than the possibility of being eliminated. You can afford to take a lot more risks in cash games, because you can always rebuy, which gives you the chance to win a lot more.
I wanted to start learning more about other games, and tried my hand at Omaha online but had a disastrous first session. I’d like to learn how to play the game properly without going broke. Are there any basic tips you can give a complete novice like me? And not just about Omaha, but about switching to a new game of poker in general?
SF: Play small tournaments where there is a fixed buy-in, which is a stop-loss. That way, you can play and learn without risking any more money than you want to. Also, generally in tournaments, players are better, so you’ll learn from playing and observing. Learn one new game at a time and don’t let one bad session scare you off. Also, you’ll notice that some of the skills cross over between the games, so pay attention to what skills you can use and how they can help you in a new game.
Horse it up ’em
I was reading about the H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the upcoming WSOP and I love the idea of switching between different games. We’re going to introduce it into our home game but I wanted to know how to play it properly to get an edge. Do you target certain people during certain games (knowing that they’re either weak/strong at a certain discipline)?
SF: Yes, you should definitely be paying attention to what players’ strengths are, but a better idea would be to pay attention to what your own strengths and weaknesses are. I can remember when I played the H.O.R.S.E. tournament at the WSOP – I wasn’t that great at Razz and Stud Hi-Lo, so I played tight during those rounds and when it came to the games I felt strong in, I played some extra hands I might not have normally played. Psychologically, mixed game tournaments can be very good because if you feel like you’re having a bad run in one game, you get a fresh start in each new game, allowing you to keep your emotions controlled and centred.