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How to Beat Tough Cash Games

Especially when you play at higher stakes or online, you’re going to face some tough competition. You’re opponents will play well; they will know their ranges, look out for tells that they can use to exploit you, and generally try to make your life as difficult as possible. What do you do when you play such a tough game?

Of course, you can always switch tables to find a game that’s beatable. However, if you truly want to improve as a poker player, you need to test yourself against the best players. At a certain point, you just have to agree to “pay your tuition” to get better at this game. Once you do, then you won’t regret it.

Here are our top tips for beating tough cash games.

#1: Fundamentally Sound Strategy

The most important thing you can do to up your win-rate against good players is with a fundamentally sound strategy. Not only does this make it harder for them to play against you, but it also helps you capitalize on mistakes when they arise.

For instance, one thing you can do is reference implementable game theory optimal (GTO) charts as you play. Print them out and stick them on your wall next to your computer. Then, when you’re facing a pre-flop bet from early position, you can look at the chart and know exactly what the mathematically correct play is. As you study and use them, you’ll get to know them better.

#2: Take Notes

Another key to beating tough games is paying attention and taking notes. It’s especially important to look at what turns up at showdown, what happens in big pots, and any abnormal plays you find.

You don’t need to record each and every thing that happens. Instead, make note of what counts. By keeping track of this information, you’ll get a better idea of what ranges your opponents are playing, their overall strategy, and how that translates into their frequencies for actions like bluffing or check-raise.

3#: Don’t Be a Robot

Take your time before you make a play. Recreate the action in your mind, think things through, and look closely at anything unusual that’s happened in the hand. The important thing is that you don’t want to play on autopilot.

If your strategy is too straightforward, then good players will adjust and punish you. While its important to make the right play more often than not, you want to mix things up. In fact, a lot of the time the optimal play will be the do one thing sometimes and another thing at other times.


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