It’s never too early or too late for a poker player to brush up on their fundamentals.
You might be an eager beginner looking to kick off your poker journey the right way. Perhaps you’ve been playing for 20 years and your fundamentals have rusted over.
Poker fundamentals are crucial, regardless of whether you play cash games, sit & gos or tournaments. This is something BBZ coach Wey Xie stresses in his new Cash Game Bundle.
“Arguably the most important part of my bundle is the fundamentals and philosophy section, which I hope will be incredibly valuable to people,” Xie says. “People think the word fundamentals means something basic, but it’s actually the foundation you need if you’re ever going to arrive at a deep understanding of this game.”
Don’t just take Xie’s word for it. Lex Veldhuis–the world’s biggest poker streamer and a massively successful poker pro for more than 15 years–says Xie blew his mind when he gave him coaching recently (you can watch Lex’s exclusive coaching session in the Bundle).
“[Xie] blew my mind on the way you should approach mathematics,” says Lex. “I can use that in cash games or tournaments. The way he approaches spots and the way he talks about exploitative vs GTO…the guy is one of the smartest poker people I’ve ever talked to.”
On that note, let’s let Xie break down some preflop fundamentals for cash games.
The majority of Xie’s lifetime volume has been at the $500 Zoom tables, although he regularly played in $1KNL and $2KNL games and has played as high as $5KNL on PokerStars. He also became cash game coaching’s best-kept secret; an end boss educator privately teaching some of the best grinders in the game today.
It’s safe to say, then, that Xie has paid plenty of rake in his time. In his opinion, rake is one of the most important things cash game players must consider.
What is rake? – Poker sites make money by taking a certain percentage of every pot. This is called the ‘rake’. Most sites don’t take rake preflop but postflop will be raked.
“As players don’t have to pay rake preflop on most sites, this gives us an incentive to raise more instead of call more because when we’re calling, the amount we can win is diminished by the amount of rake taken. If we raise and they fold, we don’t have to pay any rake.”
This is often called the ‘no flop no drop’ policy, i.e. the amount you can win doesn’t drop if you take the pot down preflop. However, some sites like GGPoker do take rake preflop, which changes a lot of things.
“You’ll see less raising and more flatting due to the same effect,” he says. “You’ll also notice more defending in general in all sorts of areas.”
Like most of us, Xie wishes we could play cash games with no rake at all. “I personally prefer to play the purest form of poker,” he says. “I like to run certain sims without rake to see how the game would be played in those scenarios, to really see the essence of it.”
Here’s an obvious statement for you: learning preflop ranges is very important. But according to Xie, we shouldn’t be overly neurotic about following everything down to a tee.
“If you deviate a little from your preflop ranges, the main amount of money we’re making will still be coming from our opponents making big mistakes,” he says. “If you use $50 Zoom ranges when playing $100 Zoom, you might be playing a little too tight and therefore forgoing a bit of EV, but it won’t be super significant.”
Here’s a thought experiment that Xie gives to all of his students.
“Try to see the game in an infinite duration,” he says. “The preflop game is six players with a small and big blind. You want to play in a way that in the long run, you won’t be losing an infinite amount of money.”
So how do we accomplish that?
Well, you won’t accomplish this by playing only pocket aces. “First of all, you’re going to win way too few blinds and play way too few hands,” says Xie. “Beyond that, people are going to start folding against you. You’ll end up losing a lot with that strategy.”
So we can therefore improve our strategy by playing more hands. Sounds simple enough.
But you can also use this thought experiment to think more about the sizes you use.
“Limping doesn’t sound attractive,” says Xie. “Raising too big isn’t good. All infinite duration scenarios are going to be too complicated for the human mind to grasp–I’m not going to act like I have the solution–but what I can say is that thinking about these things will help you deepen your understanding.”
If you’re somewhat new to the game, blockers is a term you’ve probably heard but might not understand.
“When you’re holding certain cards, you’re also gaining extra information about what cards your opponents are holding, because you know they can’t be holding certain cards,” Xie explains. “This concept can get complicated and end up in an infinitely regressing scenario where ‘this is causing me to do that’ and ‘that’s calling him to do this’, and so on.”
But let’s create a scenario where blockers will be vital to how you play.
Let’s say you’re in the small blind in a 9-Max game and everyone folds to you. What does your range look like?
Then compare that to being small blind in a 3-Max game when the button folds. How do these situations differ?
Have a think about it before reading on…
Here are Xie’s thoughts.
“When seven players have folded in front of you, it gives you additional information,” he says. “The fact they folded means they weren’t holding strong hands. That in turn means they were holding weaker hands. That in turn means more weaker cards have been removed from the game, which in turn leads to the conclusion that it’s now more likely that the big blind is holding stronger hands.”
This is just a taster from Wey Xie’s Cash Game Bundle which contains 10+ hours of value-packed insight. You can get the bundle for just $99.99 today.