Monday, July 25, 2016

Interview With Renowned Poker Mental Game Coach Jared Tendler

Jared Tendler interview
The mental side of poker is arguably more important than the strategy side especially in today's tighter higher variance games. Yet it seems like 95%+ of the educational material out there is about the latter.

This has always seemed crazy to me.

This is why I am happy to bring on my blog today arguably the world's most well known poker mental game coach and author, Jared Tendler.

He has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. And he helped me out early on in my poker career as well.

So without further ado let's get right into the interview!

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’m a Virgo, 37, like long walks on the beach…lol. I’ve been a mental game coach now for over a decade. I started back in 2005 working with golfers – I was an aspiring professional golfer myself and so it was a natural fit for me to start working with them.

I got into this field because I had my own mental hang-ups as I was playing in some big national golf events. I did really well overall – I was 3x all-american and won 9 tournaments  in college, but in the big time national events, I was choking.

First time it happened in 1997, I missed a playoff to get to the second stage of US Open qualifying by a shot and I missed a bunch of short putts! It was brutal but that drove me to figure out how to solve my mental problem. What I found didn’t really work for me so I decided to find answers.

That led me to get a Master’s degree in counseling psychology and get licensed as a therapist – which took 2 years of full time work. All in an effort to understand how to solve mental/emotional issues at a deeper level.

How did you get involved in working with poker players?

Pretty random actually. I met Dusty Schmidt (aka "Leatherass", legendary online grinder) on the golf course because we had some mutual friends in common. This was in 2007 and he was trying to make SuperNova Elite in just 10 months – which was unheard of back then.

The problem was that he was tilting badly. Destroying computers, mice, and the walls in his office. He basically paid for my coaching with the money he saved on new equipment.

The results of my work with him were immense – he went from winning 20-30k/month to winning over $600k in the subsequent 4 months. After that success I got involved with Stoxpoker and started making a name for myself.

What are the biggest mental game issues that poker players come to you with?

Before I wrote my books, it was far and away tilt. This is something that nearly every poker player I talked to was struggling with. These days, the issues are more related to confidence and motivation.

Do you think that high stakes players have similar mental game hang-ups as low stakes players?

Absolutely. The stakes don’t change the issues, they just change the unique ways those issues can show up. Tilt, fear, motivational issues and confidence issues exist everywhere. No poker player has solved the mental game.

Most of my readers here play at very low stakes. Do you have any general advice for them on dealing with bad beats and limiting tilt?

Bad beats are like a business expense. They’re unavoidable and frankly they’re evidence of quality play. If you’re not taking bad beats, it means you’re not playing well enough to be a favorite.

Bad beats are not fun, but the more you realize they’re part of the game, and that variance is an uncontrollable part of the game, the less they’ll affect you. This is all easy to say, and many of you may already be aware that this is true.

To really make them not affect you, you have to train your mind. Read and think about this paragraph every day you play for the next 60-90 days. Training doesn’t happen overnight.

The Mental Game of Poker and The Mental Game of Poker 2 have both received wide praise. What inspired you to write them and how do you think they would benefit micro stakes poker players in particular?

Micro and low stakes players were a primary motivation in writing them. I know they’re priced out of getting coaching with me and I wanted to give them an opportunity to learn more about the mental game at a lower cost.

Basically they’ll get the information that I share with my private clients. The key is that they’ve got to work a bit harder to really get the benefit. A lot of players – at all levels – falsely assume that just reading the book will cure them.

Like a lot of things in poker, to improve you’ve got to work at it. The same is true here.

I know that you also have a popular podcast where you have interviewed some of the biggest names in the industry like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Galfond and others. What inspired you to start this and what has it been like?

It was a great opportunity to have high level conversations with some of the best poker players/minds around. I’ve really enjoyed it! But to be honest the conversations started to get a bit stale.

So recently I’ve gone in a different direction and have interviewed other people in psychology and other professionals, like a client of mine who is one of the top pool players in the world. It’s been fun to mix it up.

Thank you very much for doing this interview Jared! Where can the readers find your website, your books, your podcast, coaching, social media and anything else?

Absolutely! Here’s my website and they can find info there on where to pick up my books. I also have a ton of free articles, blogs, and my podcast there.

They can also get the audiobook of The Mental Game of Poker 1 or 2 for free – info is here. Here’s the links to my Twitter and Facebook.

Final Thoughts

I hope you guys got some useful stuff out of this interview. I think the most fascinating thing that I will take away is that high stakes players actually have a lot of the same mental game issues as low stakes players.

Also, I thought the part about bad beats being a "business expense" and a sign of good play was also brilliant. I couldn't agree more. If you read this blog a lot, then you will know that I often refer to them similarly as a "tax" that we all have to pay.

As Jared rightly points out, improving your mental game is a process that takes considerable time in training your mind. Hopefully some points in this interview will get you going in the right direction. Make sure to check out his books for more.

If there is anything that you would like to ask Jared or myself in the comments below about the mental side of poker, go right ahead. I would also like to know, what are some of your biggest mental hangups in this game?

Lastly, if you found this article helpful, do me a favor and give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

poker mental game coach interview

Saturday, July 23, 2016

How to Play Pocket Kings

playing pocket kings
Knowing how to play pocket kings well is one of the best things that you can do for your winrate at the poker tables. The reason why is because KK is the second best hand that you can be dealt in poker. "Cowboys" (as they also called) will also be your second most profitable hand in the long run behind only pocket aces.

So learning how to play your kings well and maximizing your value each time you are dealt this hand is crucial. But many people get confused about what to do when somebody goes all-in preflop or when an ace flops for instance.

In this article I am going to cover these situations and more in order to get you playing pocket kings in the most profitable way.

Always Raise (or Re-Raise) With Pocket Kings

As I talked about in my how to play pocket aces article, it is really important not to screw around with hands like this at the lower stakes.

In small stakes cash games or tournaments you will consistently run into bad players who love to call with a very wide range. Even the so called good tight players often still have a lot of problems folding to a 3Bet for instance at these stakes.

If you are the first person to enter the pot, then you should always raise with your kings. Do not ever limp. And if somebody has raised it up already, then you should re-raise them the vast majority of the time.

The only time when you might want to consider slow playing (and it is very rare) is when you have a long history with a specific player and you want to mix up your play on occasion to keep them guessing.

The other time is when you are up against one of the few small stakes players who folds to 3Bets too much (e.g. 80%+). This is why it is a good idea to have the fold to 3Bet stat prominently displayed on your Pokertracker HUD.

Should You Go All In Preflop With Pocket Kings?

The short answer is yes, 100%

Look here's the thing. While we all tend to distinctly remember that one time (or even 3 times in a row) where our opponent happened to have aces when we got it all in, the simple math tells us that this is an exceedingly rare event.

In fact the odds of running your kings into aces at a full ring table (9 people) are only 4% and at a 6max table it is only 3%!

Furthermore, these numbers do not even take into account all of the times (read: the vast majority) when your opponents go all in and show up with hands like:
  • AK
  • AQ
  • QQ
  • JJ
  • TT
Our kings of course crush all these hands. And this is not to mention all the times when your opponent just goes all in with something silly too just because they are on tilt.

So for all of these reasons, let's end the argument here once and for all. You should always go all in preflop (assuming 100bb stacks) with your pocket kings.

It is true that on extremely rare occasions you will run into pocket aces and have only 20% equity. But it is important to remember that this happens so infrequently and that most of the time you are way ahead.

Also, believe me, the great thing about this game is that the shoe will always be on the other foot eventually. By this I mean that you will be the one holding aces to their kings one day.

They aren't folding to you. So it all evens out in the end anyways.

How to Play Kings Postflop

So now that we have got the preflop game out of the way let's talk about how to play cowboys after the flop.

Well frankly, things don't change much. You should be betting and even re-raising with your kings the large majority of the time.

Once again we need to remember that low stakes online and live poker players are notoriously calling stations who love to hang on with any pair or draw. Why would you want to ever slow play against these kinds of players?

Furthermore, even if you are up against a decent regular who has a fold button, you want to build an aggressive reputation anyways. This because, having an aggressive poker table image ensures that you will get the most action when you want it (such as when you have kings).

You should be making bets on the flop and later streets against the decent regulars with your draws, ace highs, middle pairs and so on a lot of the time. So why wouldn't you make the same bet when you have a big value hand like KK?

What if an Ace Flops?

Now a common trouble spot of course is what to do with kings if an ace flops. This is a tricky situation for which there is no clear-cut answer. As usual in poker, "it depends."

It really depends mostly on your opponent in this case and how many aces you think are in their range. Recreational players in general are more likely to have the ace than the regulars.

However, the other issue here is that regardless of what they have, the ace is going to slow the action down. They might call one bet with their middle pair hand for instance but after that they will be done.

This is why I will sometimes take a check call line or a check behind line with pocket kings on an ace flop. This under-reps my hand and often allows me to get more action on the turn and river.

However, you definitely should still be betting the ace on the flop a fair bit as well. You don't need to be afraid of it every time it flops. Remember that an ace is just one small part of their overall range.

Should You Ever Fold KK Postflop?

On occasion yes. It is important to remember that a hand like KK is still just one pair. Just because you got dealt the second best hand in Hold'em does not give you a license to print money.

The great thing about this game is that somebody almost always has equity. That is what allows the fish to get lucky sometimes and win. This keeps them depositing more money into the poker economy for years even when they clearly lose in the long run.

So it is important to recognize the signs when your pocket kings might be beat and you need to fold. Here are some of the common things that I look for:
  • Tight regular giving me lots of action especially on the "big money streets" (turn and river)
  • Wet and heavily coordinated board
So first off, the players who you want to make your hero folds against are the tight nits who sit around waiting for the nuts all day and never bet unless they have something huge.

When these guys wake up and start wanting to play for stacks against you, the alarm bells in your head should start going off.

Secondly, the board plays a key role in my decision to possibly fold kings as well. By "wet and coordinated" I am talking about a flop like:


On a board like this there are so many two pairs, sets and even made straights that have us crushed. There are also tons of combo draws (such as T9) that either have huge equity against us, or even have us beat!

Versus an absolutely monster draw like T9 we would actually be significantly behind if we were to get all the money in on this flop.

how to play pocket kings

Final Thoughts

Pocket kings is one of the best hands that you can possibly be dealt in poker. Therefore, it is important that you play it well.

For the most part you should simply be raising and re-raising with it both preflop and postflop. You want to stay away from slow playing KK versus all of the calling stations and bad players at the lower limits.

This also means that you should get all the money in before the flop if somebody else wants to tussle. It is very rare that they will flip over aces. Most of the time you will be in a very good spot instead.

Lastly, there are some rare occasions where you might want to consider getting away from kings postflop. This is especially the case versus a tight regular who is giving you a lot of action on a highly coordinated and wet board that also hits his set-mining range hard.

Let me know in the comments below how you play your kings. Do you have any tips for how to maximize your value with them?

New Here? Check out my "Start Here" Page for all of my best poker strategy articles. Also, be sure to hop on my free newsletter below for tons more helpful tips!

pocket kings strategy

Thursday, July 21, 2016

How to Win at Play Money Poker

win at play money poker
Many people are surprised to know that play money poker is actually the most popular form of the game online. This involves playing with fake chips given to you by the house which hold no actual monetary value.

Nearly all online poker rooms offer play money games. The reason why is that it is a great way to let people get started playing online and learn the rules of poker. And best of all, they don't have to risk a penny to do so. 

Some are surprised to know that I was actually a bit of a play money superstar before I ever switched over to real money poker. I won millions of those worthless fake chips! What a hero right?

Anyways, in this article I am going to provide you with my top strategies to get you crushing the online play money poker games right now. 

Let's get started!

Play Tight to Beat Play Money Poker

The first thing that you need to understand about play money is that when there is no money on the line people will play absolutely crazy. Even at the very lowest limit real money games online, where the buyin is often as low as $2, people play much more conservative.

So when you first get started at the play money tables online you should get used to everybody being involved in every hand. People will also call you down with anything all the way to the river as well. 

So the solution to beating these games is to play tight. What do I mean by playing tight? I mean that you only want to play good cards such as:
  • AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, 66
  • AK, AQ, AJ, AT
  • KQ, KJ, QJ

These are some of the strongest hands in Texas Hold'em. If you stick to only playing really good hands like this, then you will definitely beat the play money games.

You can add a few other hands if you want as well such as small pairs (22, 33, 44, 55), suited connectors (JT, 98, 87, 76), and suited aces (A9, A8, A7, A6, A5), but you should be folding pretty much everything else before the flop.

Staying disciplined with the hands that you play will be a huge key to your success in play money.

Play Aggressive to Beat Play Money Poker

The other thing that you need to do is play these hands aggressively. You can't just limp into the pot (e.g. call the blind) like everybody else. You need to raise it up before the flop in order to thin the field.

Why you might ask?

Because if you allow everybody and their dog into the pot, then somebody is likely to hit something on the flop or later in the hand to beat you. 

Also, even more importantly, the reason why you want to raise the pot is because you have a very strong hand! Therefore you have a higher chance of winning. 

The whole point of the game of poker is to win really big pots. How do you win really big pots? By starting to build a really big one right from the get go. 

Think of the pot in poker like a snowball at the top of a hill. The bigger the ball of snow that you start with, the bigger it is going to be after you roll it down the hill.

When you have a really strong hand in play money (like those listed above) start building the pot right away.

How Much Should You Raise the Pot?

This really depends on the other players at the table. But let me say this first. Your goal when raising the pot should be to thin the field to about 2 callers at the very most.

You don't want more than this because then there is a much better chance of somebody hitting something silly to beat you. So you should raise the pot whatever amount you think will thin the field to this amount of people.

Now in some particularly crazy play money games this might mean just going all in. It might mean raising it 10 times the big blind. This is up for you to decide by observing the table but you get the idea.

When you have a strong hand at the fake money tables make sure that you raise the pot enough so that you thin the field to just a couple people. This also helps you build a bigger pot later on in the hand.

What Should You Do After the Flop?

So now that you have raised up the pot what should you do on the flop, turn and river? Well this depends on whether or not you have hit the board or "community cards" as they are sometimes called.

With some of the hands that I listed above such as AA, KK or QQ you do not need to hit the board because you already have a pair. However, with a hand like AK or AQ you do need to pair one of your cards on the flop in order to improve.

Furthermore, with hands like 66, 77 or 88, even though you already have a pair, sometimes somebody will have a higher pair if the flop is AQT for instance. 

So you need to gauge the strength of your hand on the flop, turn and river and then bet accordingly. If you have a hand like AK or AQ and you missed the board completely, then you should just check and fold if anybody bets a reasonable amount. 

You also want to play your mid pair type hands fairly cautiously as well if they did not connect with the board to hit a set. By this I mean hands like 66, 77 and 88. If the board is bad (3 over cards for instance) and they bet, then often you should just fold.

It is very important to stay disciplined after the flop in fake money as well. Don't ever try to run a big bluff against them. Believe me, they will call you down and you will lose.

Quick side note: Do not fold to extremely small bets that people sometimes make in play money games (e.g., the pot is 200 and somebody bets 10). I am talking a bet that actually means something such as 1/3 of the pot or more.

What if you actually have a big hand though? This is the fun part.

If you have a really big hand such as AA, KK or QQ, you hit the board with your AK/AQ or you hit a set with your 66 type hand (e.g. flop is K62), then you want to bet big and bet often.

The great thing about play money poker is that your opponents will typically call with anything. So when you have a big hand you never, ever want to slow play it. Always make sure that you bet big (pot size bets) so that you can win a big pot.

Should You Play the Fake Money Games?

The last thing that I want to mention is that play money really should be a short term thing for you. It should help you learn the rules of the game and get used to playing online poker.

But as I hope this article helped explain, play money poker isn't really real poker. People play way differently when nothing is on the line. And of course, fake money chips are ultimately meaningless.

When you are ready to take the next step into real money poker make sure to go check out my "Start Here" page. Here you will find all of my best articles to help you get started with the right strategy.

You can also hop on my free newsletter for tons more helpful tips to get you crushing the real money poker tables.

Final Thoughts

Play money poker is really quite easy to win at once you get the hang of it. It really boils down to being more disciplined than your opponents.

While everybody else is going crazy playing any two cards and chasing every draw for any amount, you need to stick to the game plan of only playing the good hands that I listed above. 

You also need to make sure that you bet big and often with them when you hit the community cards hard. Don't ever slow play a big hand in fake money because people will call you down with anything.

Also, don't ever bluff in play money. And I truly mean this. They will call you down and you will lose :)

At the end of the day, the play money tables are a fun and easy way to learn the rules of poker and get used to playing online. However, it really isn't real poker. People play way differently when there is nothing on the line.

Once you start crushing the play money tables, you would be better served to move on to the lowest limit real money tables and start winning for real!

If you found this article helpful, give it a "Like" or a "Tweet" below. Thanks!

New Here? Check out my "Start Here" Page for all of my best poker strategy articles. Also, be sure to hop on my free newsletter below for tons more helpful tips!
beat fake money poker

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How to Play Pocket Aces

play pocket aces
Pocket aces is the best hand that you can possibly be dealt in Texas Hold'em. And while many like to complain about all the times they lose with it, the bottom line is that AA will far and away be your most profitable hand in poker over the long run.

So more than any other starting hand in this game, it is a good idea to have a solid strategy for how to play it. It is also a good idea to have a clear strategy for when to fold it (yes you should be doing this on occasion).

In this article I am going to discuss how to play pocket aces in the most profitable way in poker.

You Should Almost Always Raise With Pocket Aces

Your default strategy in any poker game should be to raise or re-raise when you get dealt aces. If you are new to a table and you don't know anybody, then you should employ this strategy 100% of the time.

Why not slow play your pocket rockets you might ask?

Because AA is the best starting hand in the game and the only way that you are going to win a big pot with it is by building the pot yourself. This is especially the case at the lower stakes.

Many people fail to remember that most players at the lower limits are extremely passive. This means that they won't do the raising or the betting for you unless they happen to have a monster themselves, which is unlikely.

Therefore, the only way to actually win a big pot against them is by putting lots of chips in the middle yourself. If they don't have anything, well there is nothing that you can do, they would have folded anyways.

But if they have any kind of hand that they like (or piece of the board), then they are likely to call. When you have pocket aces, this is exactly what you want them to do.

Now with all of that said, yes there is a time and a place for slow playing aces. This depends mostly on the history that you have with a specific opponent. If you play against a particular person often, then it is a good idea to mix things up from time to time in order to keep them guessing.

Another instance where it would be a good idea to slow play your aces from time to time is versus somebody who has already raised preflop but folds an abnormally high amount of the time to a 3Bet (e.g. 80%+). Your HUD stats will provide you with this information.

The bottom line though is that you want to be raising or re-raising with pocket aces the vast majority of the time that you play them. This will almost always be the most profitable way to play them especially at the lower stakes.

What Should You Do With Aces After the Flop?

My approach after the flop with pocket aces is very similar to my preflop strategy. That is, the large majority of the time I will be making the obvious straightforward play of just betting them.

Since AA is such a strong pair this means that I will be betting the flop on all sorts of boards. It really doesn't matter what it is to be honest:
  • 234
  • 885
  • Q62
  • KK9
  • AT4

You get the idea.

And yes, I will even be betting the a large amount of the time when I happen to flop top set.


Because as I alluded to before, the two common traits that you typically find among low stakes poker players is passive play and a willingness to call.

In other words, if they have anything that they like (bottom pair, middle pair, top pair, any draw etc.), then they are going to call you. However, they typically will not make the bet for you if you choose to slow play. This is why I will just be making a default bet on nearly any board with aces.

Now of course versus opponents who I have a deep history with, I will once again choose to mix it up from time to time. I will perhaps choose to check raise or check call once in awhile instead in order to keep them guessing about the way in which I play my hands.

But against a random opponent or somebody with whom I have very little history, I will just make a bet on the flop nearly 100% of the time.

What if You Get Raised With Aces?

Now of course we aren't always going to take down the pot uncontested after we make our bet on the flop. Sometimes they are going to call us or even raise us.

What to do in this situation depends a lot on the player type that you are dealing with. However, in general when I am called, I am just going to continue betting on later streets when I have pocket aces.

If I am raised then things get a little bit more interesting. First off, I want to know about the tendencies of my opponent. In particular I want to know if this player raises a lot after the flop and how aggressive they are in general.

The two key stats here on your HUD are:
  • Flop CBet Raise %
  • Total Aggression Factor

A Flop CBet Raise of 15-20% is pretty typical for most tight aggressive regs. If they are significantly above this then I will be likely to at least call. If they are significantly below this though, then I will be extremely cautious and might even consider folding.

The Total Aggression Factor stat in Pokertracker is a mathematical formula which gives us an overall indicator of postflop aggression or passivity of a particular player. The least aggressive value is 1.

This stat is useful when you have a small sample size on your opponent. A value of 2 or 3 is fairly typical for most regulars at the micros. So if they are 1 or 4+ then once again you can adjust your reaction to their raise accordingly.

If you are playing live poker, then obviously you do not have access to this kind of information. So in order to know how to proceed versus a raise when you have the pocket rockets this will depend on your overall read on your opponent.

Board Texture Plays a Big Role

Online or live though, the board texture also plays a key role in my decision.

When you get raised on:


This is a lot different than getting raised on:


With the first board there are just so many draws, pairs and pair+draw combo hands that they can have. However, on the second board they are representing almost nothing with a raise. Most people would slow play trip kings here and the only other value hand is the unlikely 22.

So if I got raised on the first board versus an aggressive opponent I might actually consider re-raising for value (or at the very least calling) and then playing more aggressively later depending on the turn and river cards.

Versus a tight passive player I will be very cautious though and might even consider folding. This is because this board hits their set-mining range very hard and I don't expect them to be raising me with their draws anywhere near as often.

On the second board though I will almost always be just calling regardless of the player type. Re-raising in this situation puts you in a spot where you are likely to only get action from better hands and fold out all worse. I would rather keep their bluffing range wide and under-rep my hand here since I am almost certainly ahead.

Final Thoughts

Playing your pocket aces well is extremely important in Texas Hold'em poker. This is because the good old pocket rockets will be your most profitable hand over the long run. Therefore, the amount that you are able to win each time you play them will go a long way towards determining your overall winrate.

Most of the time, the straightforward way of raising and betting is going to be the most profitable way to play your aces. However, from time to time you might want to consider slow playing for deception against the regulars who you encounter a lot.

And on occasion as well you might even need to make a difficult fold versus a tight passive player especially when they start giving you big action on boards that are likely to hit their set-mining range.

Let me know your thoughts below on how you play your pocket aces.

New Here? Check out my "Start Here" Page for all of my best poker strategy articles. Also, be sure to hop on my free newsletter below for tons more helpful tips!

pocket rockets

Monday, July 18, 2016

Card Dead in Poker: Here's What to Do

poker card dead
You often hear poker players complain about being card dead. This essentially means that they aren't getting dealt anything very good or "playable."

It's not a lot of fun because when you sit down to play poker you want to make something happen. But when you are getting dealt trash again and again it is like your hands are tied behind your back.

And this is even moreso the case in a tournament structure because you are getting blinded down and you can't just reload like in a cash game. However, you also know that playing bad hands is a recipe for disaster at the poker tables.

So in this article I am going to discuss some strategies for dealing with being card dead in cash games and tournaments, both live and online.

You Can't Force Your Way Out of Being Card Dead

The first thing that you need to remember about getting dealt a bunch of bad hands is that this is a natural part of the game and everybody goes through it. Sometimes you are going to get dealt great hands non-stop so this has to be counter-balanced with the bad side too.

So there is no real need to get frustrated by it and try to force something to happen. Because you simply can't force your way out of it.

One of the biggest keys to being successful in poker is knowing when to be disciplined. You already know that bad cards like 96, 74 or T3 (and even when suited) are referred to as "junk" for a reason.

This is because they tend to produce really bad results when you play them!

Yes, on rare occasions you will get lucky and flop a straight or three 6's with the good old 96♦. But you know full well what happens most of the time when you play a hand like this.

You will:
  • Miss the flop a lot
  • Lose to a better high card hand
  • Hit a pair and get beat by a better kicker
  • Hit a pair and lose to a higher pair
  • Hit two pair and lose to a higher two pair

And so on. You get the idea. This is why it is a bad idea to play cards like this.

So this really becomes a discipline thing at the end of the day. Just because you are card dead (again, a natural part of the game), does not mean that a hand like 96 suddenly becomes playable. It is a fold under any circumstance.

In a Cash Game You Never Have to Force Anything

The great thing about cash games (which is primarily what I talk about on this blog) is that there really is no need to ever try and force anything to happen. The blinds do not increase and you can reload at any point.

Also, with the speed of online poker and the ability to multi-table you don't really even have to wait very long to get dealt a good hand.

Furthermore with the addition of Zoom poker in recent years you can now just literally "fast fold" your way to the nuts and eliminate being card dead forever.

However, getting dealt bad cards for a lengthy amount of time can still be an issue in slower formats like live poker or if you only play one or two regular tables online.

Once again this just has to come down to a discipline thing in the end. You know that you can't break the fundamental rule that bad cards produce bad results. So you need to prevent yourself from trying to force something to happen even if it seems like you have been folding preflop forever.

Honestly, for me, this is one of the reasons that I rarely play live poker. Despite the fact that there are usually a lot more fish, the pace of the action can be really slow at times. With online poker though, if you are sick of folding a lot of bad hands, I would suggest just adding more tables.

Many people say that they cannot concentrate on more than one or two tables at a time online but if you find yourself sitting around waiting a lot and feeling card dead, then you could probably add another table and still remain focused.

Being Card Dead in a Tournament Presents Some Unique Challenges

Tournament poker of course is a different beast altogether because you are dealing with the ever increasing blinds and you are only going to survive if you make something happen.

But it is still the case (especially in the early stages of a tournament or a sit and go) that being patient and waiting for the right opportunity is the best course of action. This is especially the case at the lower stakes.

Much like in low stakes cash games, there are so many bad players in small buyin tournaments that trying to force something to happen will often only end in failure. They are just going to call your bluff down with their bottom pair and you will be even more frustrated.

Most big multi-table tournaments online give you about 75 big blinds to start and there are also deep stack events that you can play in as well. Therefore, there really is no need to worry about anything during at least the first hour in a format like this.

During the middle stages of the tournament you need to start pushing the chips around a little bit more but there is still plenty of room to maneuver. It is only once you get down to about 10 big blinds that you need to start making something happen.

But even then, most of your "plays" should be well calculated late position shoves intended to steal the blinds and have some reasonable equity even if called.

The bottom line even in tournaments is to relax if you are card dead. Forcing something to happen with a bad hand is a sure way to get yourself quickly eliminated.

There is no need to worry even with a short stack. It only takes one or two double ups and you are all of the sudden among the chip-leaders again. Be patient and get the money in good.


Being card dead in poker is a natural thing that we all go through from time to time. However, the best players know to still remain disciplined during these times.

A bad hand is still a bad hand no matter what has happened in your recent playing history. Remember to view each poker hand as an independent event. Trashy hands like 96 are a fold under any circumstance.

With cash games, it is much easier to handle getting dealt a lot of poor hands. The blinds are static and you can always reload. Just stay disciplined and wait for the right spots. If you still find yourself getting antsy, then try adding an additional table. Or play Zoom poker and never be card dead again!

With tournaments, once again the whole card dead thing is mostly in your head. You don't really need to force anything to happen until you are seriously short stacked (e.g. 10bb or less). And even then, you should still only be shoving semi-decent hands in late position steal situations.

Bad cards are bad cards no matter the circumstance. One of the biggest keys to success (especially in low limit poker) is learning to be more patient.

Don't allow a run of bad cards to get you down. Poker is a long run game and everybody goes through being card dead from time to time. Stay disciplined, stick with the game plan and you will be rewarded in the end.

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