What I am about to say may sound strange but poker is full of people that are risk averse…… why is that and is it true? Well firstly it is most certainly true because after 12 years as a professional player in online poker then I believe it to be so. There are numerous different attitudes to risks and in financial services they tend to operate around three broad descriptions which are adventurous, balanced and cautious. While it can be argued that most players are not cautious otherwise they wouldn’t be risking money in the first place playing poker…… cautious players do tend to play low stakes and in a very tight way.
Even the players that are operating at the higher stake levels like at $100, $200 and $400 games tend to be no more than balanced in their attitude to risk. The issue here is that poker when you immerse yourself in its subtleties is such a fascinating game that it draws players to it like moths to a flame. The average online poker player is not flying around by the seat of their pants playing all sorts of junk and bluffing all over the place.
Most opponents tend to be well versed in poker theory these days and so will be sticking with that theory at least 95% of the time. So when they are betting and raising then you often need to give them credit for having hands. This applies less so in six max than full ring but in full ring cash games then there is a greater number of cautious players! This is factual because if these players were more aggressive and adventurous with their money then they would be playing heads up poker, short-handed poker and six max.
One of the biggest barriers and obstacles to players making money when they switch to cash games and especially full ring cash games is to spew money to players that are risk adverse. So they end up stacking off with hands like two pair or small sets and losing to hands like straights and flushes. This is especially the case when the blinds are 100bb or more. The more big blinds a player has on the table then the greater the need they have to hold a strong hand in big pots when the stacks go in the middle.
I often see players lose their stack with hands like Q-Q pre-flop in full ring simply because these guys had played a lot of six max and short-handed poker where Q-Q is a standard stack off hand pre-flop against most opponents. Part and parcel of making money in poker is not paying off too frequently with second best hands. If you can do that then you are ahead before you even start. Making money in poker is often down to how much money you win and then don’t hand back. In a later article we will be looking at the differences between a strong winning player and one that breaks even.