We All Get Those Card-Dead Stretches,
Here Are Some Great Ideas For How To Cope
There is little more frustrating than getting reasonably deep in a poker tournament, only to see your cards dry up completely. After folding junk for a few orbits 'boom' those aces arrive, and of course everyone folds – after all they do not want to pay off a nit!
Card-dead patches happen to us all at some point. Fortunately there are a few different tactics which we can employ to overcome the frustration… even when players raising ahead of us when we get a mid-strength hand adds to our troubles.
Of course, a lot of the plays are affected by stack sizes, blind levels and the tendencies of opponents. I will break down some options in general terms first, then note important factors which might affect your decision on whether to make the play or not.
Card-Dead In Poker Tournaments – Stealing
Often your cards do not matter as much as you might think. When you steal the blinds with a button raise your opponents will fold so often that those times you get called and play a pot in position are just extra profit. Raising to steal from one of the last few places to act at the table is the easiest way of keeping your stack alive during a card dead period. You will be seen as active at the tables too, which might increase your chances of getting action when you do get dealt a big hand. Remember not to steal every time, it will cost you a lot of chips if your opponents get fed up with you and shove over the top of your raise!
Card-Dead In Poker Tournaments – Restealing
Restealing from a later position raise is one of the most effective methods of all when it comes to chipping up while card dead. This is particularly effective from the button (or 1 place before) when you have less players to act after you who might wake up with a real hand.
The idea is that you make a raise over a 'stealer' to around 2.5 times their initial raise. This looks super-strong and will often see you take down the pot immediately. Since you act last you are able to take the pot on the flop those times your opponent does call a large percentage of the time too. If you have folded a run of bad hands this can look even scarier than normal, and with some dead money in the pot can often get you 3x what an outright steal would bring.
Card-Dead In Poker Tournaments – Calling Bets In Position
An alternative line to the resteal might be to call a raise in position from an active or aggressive opponent. This can also look very strong, especially to someone who was stealing 'light'. You can re-evaluate on the flop, though the basic scenario is that you raise if checked to or call another bet on the flop and take the pot on the turn. If you are playing against very bad opponents this is less powerful (as they will call with just about anything). Against an experienced player you suspect of stealing this move can look very strong indeed.
Card-Dead In Poker Tournaments – Riding It Out
Of course, you could just ride out the card dead run and use the time to closely watch and take notes on the tendencies of your opponents. You will be surprised how much information you can gain on what different bets mean when you are closely following and back-tracking through hands at showdown.
The downside of this is that it will be more difficult to get paid off when you first hit those hands. This is less of a consideration at the lower buy-in tournaments, where players are often not looking much further than their own chip stacks and cards.
Card Dead In Poker Tournaments – Preventative Actions
While you can not prevent a run of weak cards, you can prevent it spoiling your chances of success in the tournament. The way you do this is to push harder to accumulate chips as you go through the different stages. Instead of waiting until you have 15 big blinds to get into 'desperate for a double-up' mode, do this when you have 25… you'll need to take charge at some point if you plan on winning, and doing it earlier can give you a stack of chips which can be used as a weapon – even those times when you are card dead!
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