Recently, I have been increasing my online cash game play of Texas Hold Em Limit and No Limit Games at low stakes of .25/.50 blinds while preparing myself for the task of playing up to 4/5 hours per day of poker.
During this time, I have started to notice that some players are doing things that, at first, did not make a lot of sense to me. I did not catch on initially because I was more concerned with what I had for cards and did not pay attention to what was happening after I folded. As I gained more experience, I started watching hands I was not involved in and took notes about what certain players were doing so that I could play better against them when I was actively playing a hand.
What I started to notice was the tendency for some players to go all-in with any pocket pair prior to the flop. This seemed like risky behavior and I could not understand why they would do this! It seemed as though they were playing a game of poker bingo and basically just gambling that they would win. Without even being asked, one player said “pocket tens are my favorite hand, I always win with them”. And he did; he was up against pocket Aces and caught a 10 on the river to double up. It was not long after he won that he left the table.
I started asking some of my twitter poker friends about this kind of action and they said they see this happen all the time. Someone comes to the table with a small buy-in amount, the minimum allowed at .25/.50 is $10, and waits until they get a pocket pair, then they go all-in and leave if they win or lose. Personally, I had seen bad plays like this in low buy-in tourneys but not at cash games, at least not until now.
But then I noticed that my twitter friends were also pointed out that they had lost hands or games when they held good hands like KK or AK and were beaten by players having 87 off suit or T9 suited. This reminded me of something that I recently read in the book, The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition.
Andy Bloch wrote in Chapter 6 about “No Limit Hold ‘Em: Play before the Flop”, and detailed starting hand requirements for each of the positions. He had many charts showing how certain hands won a certain percentage of the time against random hands, against the top 10% of hands, etc. These tables were meant to show that a player could sometimes call an all in bet made by another player, even with a hand such as 3 2 off suit because of the pot odds and chip stacks. This was not meant to be a guide on how to bet any pocket pair pre-flop by going all in. But I think that some players have read it this way and decided that if AA-KK-QQ-JJ-TT-99-88-77-66-55-44-33-22 are winning more that 50% of the time, going all in was a great idea. Of course it did work from time to time, so now some of these players have decided to make it a standard play in their poker play book. This might work in the early stages or late stages of a tourney but in a tight cash game, this could be a path to disaster.
Have you seen this happening at cash games you have been involved in? How do you combat it? Do you fight back with worse hands and then get the worst of it? What has been your experience?