NL Texas Holdem Poker – Making an Omelette

There is a saying in life that “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette” and when playing No Limit Texas Hold´em, it effectively equates to “If you don´t take any risks, you won´t make any money”. We have all been on tables where there are a number of “grinders” – guys just killing time, working on their bonuses and rakeback – waiting for the right hand to be dealt to them, and hoping that there is a passive player on the table who will follow their lead to give them a decent pot. These are the rocks in cash games – dependable, solid and, most importantly, predictable.

Most rocks do not get involved in multi table poker tournaments because the rising blinds and antes catch them out before the bubble, so you are most likely to witness their appearance in ring games. If you identify one in front of you in the betting, it is the equivalent of having a big warning light on the table whenever they bet. They will only play a hand when they have a premium opening hand and unless you have aces or kings it is usually advisable to fold and not take a chance on the flop – that is exactly what they are hoping for!

Where a rock is positioned behind you in the betting, you do not have to bet by a large amount in order to get them to fold their marginal cards and can avoid the scenario whereby they re-raise you with a premium hand and you are looking at being second best in a monster pot. If you can determine who the rocks are on a full ring poker table, you might only be left with four or five other players to worry about.

Once you have isolated the rocks, you are effectively playing short-handed with the benefit of a full ring pot. There may be a couple of loose, passive “calling stations” who will get lucky on occasional hands, but not so much that they should show a profit. Knowing when to avoid getting in too deep against these “slow players”, raising when you can and folding when you have to, is the key to keeping your stack intact.

That would only leave a few solid, tight-aggressive players that pose any sort of threat to you. Observe how they interact with the rest of the players and if they are following the same courses of action as you. Test them out with a few good size bets when you have the hands to support them, but not too fiercely. Inasmuch as you have to “break a few eggs”, you can achieve this with a few firm taps rather than using a sledgehammer to do the job.

As with any type of poker game, the winner will be the one who plays his opposition as well as the cards. By identifying the different types of players around the table and taking advantage of their betting styles, you will be able to have your eggs and eat them too!