Here are some tidbits for cash games

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After seeing my columns here in Ante Up, many players tend to email me seeking my coaching help. One recent student told me he usually played $1-$2 no-limit hold’em cash games and included a few tidbits from his poker bio. We set up a consultation call and in my response I included a few tips. My tips come from my gut; I do not have a canned response.

Here’s what I included in my response:

“Make sure your preflop raise narrows the field to one or two players. And stop limping. Hope that tidbit helps.”

The response I received: “Wow, thanks for the tip. I was just telling my wife how I am playing too passive. I will call you next week.”

TIDBIT 1: Bet-sizing is a big deal. Flopping top set is not a good reason to play it slow, resulting in teasing players to catch the turn. The turn can lead to a substantial increase in outs for opponents. Most players fail to recognize where their blunder occurred. But we certainly remember getting our set of aces cracked by runner-runner.

TIDBIT 2: Be sure to over-charge opponents. Ultimately, this makes you the house. You have manipulated the odds in your favor, which is why owning a casino is a good thing. Recently, I overheard a player lament his luck and the story cited was the aforementioned scenario. He let all three players catch the turn on the cheap.

The play caused him an exit in a tournament and he failed to realize his bad play with three players drawing most likely had manipulated matters from being a strong favorite after the flop to becoming an underdog on the turn. We often mistake the winner to be lucky because he was drawing thin, but forget to factor in all of the outs we never get to see.

TIDBIT 3: There is zero luck in poker. Let’s not kid ourselves; we make our own breaks. I used to take a survey in my class and most students came in at 60-40. If zero luck confuses you, think of a major-leaguer who is getting great wood on the ball, but is in a slump. His linedrives are being caught. He’s down in the dumps because his average is suffering. His hitting coach tells him not to change a thing, which leads to the last tidbit.

TIDBIT 4: Your poker coach’s No. 1 job is to help you untangle your play. Losing might be variance or blunders, big leaks or subtle. Don’t fall prey to chasing ghosts.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at brementmark@gmail.com.