burning poker questions

5 Burning Cash Game Questions Answered By Pros

Poker is a very complex game.

Thankfully, there is a place for players who are trying to improve where they can have direct contact with fellow grinders and experienced professionals. As a member of the Upswing Lab training course, you gain access to the Upswing Engage Facebook group, where interactions between members and pros are commonplace.

In today’s article, we have selected five questions that have been asked recently in the group in recent weeks, along with equally good answers from Lab coaches Fried “mynameiskarl” Meulders and Daniel McAulay.

Without further due, let’s satisfy the curiosity!

The Five Questions

  1. Why should you sometimes call 4-bets with suited connectors, even when only 100 big blinds deep?
  2. Is this a good spot to overbet?
  3. How should I adjust my strategy in games that have preflop rake?
  4. How should I adjust my strategy when moving up from 25NL to 50NL?
  5. I’ve noticed recreational players over-fold versus my turn overbets. Should I adjust by reducing the sizing with my value hands to get more calls?

#1: Why should you sometimes call 4-bets with suited connectors, even 100 big blinds deep?

Most players, including Doug Polk’s childhood idol Daniel Negreanu, love playing medium suited connectors like 65s. We all do. They are just fun to play.

But most people realize that when there are 4-bets flying in front of your eyes, exercising caution is important.

By 4-betting, our opponent is usually representing a very strong hand. Given how much of our stack we need to pay to see the flop, it may seem counter-intuitive to chase straights and flushes with suited connectors.

So, it may come as a surprise that both some of the best players in the world, and solvers alike, recommend calling 4-bets with suited connectors (at least some percentage of the time).

Why is this? Actually, there are three good reasons for it!

1. We still have both great equity and playability

Even against the tightest of ranges (QQ+, AK), a tiny looking hand like 65s has 31% equity.

And because suited connectors are great at flopping something worth continuing with (most notably a straight or flush draw), these hands tend to actually realize more equity than they have, particularly in position.

2. Our outs are usually clean

While a hand like QJs is better than 65s in the absolute sense, it is really important to always consider the relative strength of a hand. More specifically, how it fares versus a range.

When you think about the range of something like JJ+, AQ+ that you are facing, you can see how suited broadways would actually do worse than middling suited connectors.

QJs is dominated by both QQ and AQ, while AK, KK and AA are blocking its straight outs. 65s does not really have any of these problems.

Also, note how the flopped top pair with QJs has about the same equity as the flopped top pair with 65s, because the only hand out of the opponent’s range that the former is out-flopping is JJ.

Overall, 65s has 29.8% equity versus a range of (JJ+, AQ+), while QJs has 29.2%. It’s a rather tiny difference that makes these hands look about the same, but there is one more thing that medium suited connectors have going for them:

3. Better board coverage

Imagine the flop being Q♠ T♣ 7. Such a flop hits a good chunk of your 4-bet calling range, whether it includes QJs or not. You’ve got KQs and TT and ATs… you’ve got the picture — you’ll hit that flop with plenty of your range.

But what if the flop comes something like 7♣ 6 3♠?

It looks like all of the typical unpaired, high-card hands that would call a 4-bet, such as AQs, KJs or JTs, completely whiff this flop. That’s why having 98s, 87s, 76s, 65s and 54s in your 4-bet calling range comes in real handy.

Calling 4-bets with these holdings (again, not necessarily always, but at least sometimes) ensures that you can show up with some really strong hands on almost any flop. This makes you harder to play against.

Take a look at Fried’s whole answer here:

Fried Q1 Response

If you’re an Upswing Lab member, you can view and join the discussion here.

#2: Is this a good spot to overbet?

Overbets are amazing. They are fun to implement and they can noticeably improve your win-rate if used correctly. That is a big IF.

One of our Upswing Lab members asked if he used the overbet correctly in a recent hand. So he asked Fried “mynameiskarl” Meulders, the author of a freshly-baked Overbet module, if this was a good spot to overbet:

$0.50/$1.00 6-max cash game

Hero is dealt JT♠ in the Small Blind.
Four folds. Hero raises $3. BB calls.

Flop ($6.00):
K6♠ 5♠
Hero bets $1.98. BB calls.


The short answer… is YES!

Take this as a simplification with many exceptions, but: generally, the most common spots in which you should overbet are when these two conditions are met:

  1. You had the last aggressive action preflop (i.e. your opponent(s) just called your raise as opposed to 3-betting).
  2. Your opponent(s) did not raise your small c-bet on the flop.

On K 6♠ 5♠, these two things combined mean that you are the only player in the hand that can have most, if not all of the following big hands: AA, KK, AK, K6s, K5s, 65s, 66 and 55.

You now have a vast nut advantage in your favor, benefits of which you can maximize by utilizing really big bets.

This is particularly true when the next street brings a card that is either neutral to both ranges, or, even more so, better for your range.

An Ace on the turn is great for you as it improves your AA to a set, AK to two pair and AQ/AJ to really strong top pairs. Overall, it’s a wonderful spot to overbet with a big chunk of your range.

As played, our Hero does overbet the turn and the river brings the 5.

The 5 on the river is much more of a neutral card, because none of the players should really get through the turn with a lone five. It would be a more significant card if there was a five+flush draw possibility, but since that is not the case in this hand, your massive nut advantage from the turn remains intact.

JT is now a good hand to overbet bluff and balance all those super-strong hands in our range with. Fried notes that it would be perfect if we had not blocked some of the flush draws with our T♠. But it’s still a great candidate to go for it nevertheless.

We obviously don’t have much of a showdown value and we block AJ, AT, KJ, KT, some of the strongest hands we could expect our opponent to want to call down with. So, let’s do it!

Results: Our hero did go all-in for two-times the pot, which was met by a fold from his opponent. Nice hand!

If you’re an Upswing Lab member, you can view and join the discussion here.

#3: How should I adjust my strategy in games that have preflop rake?

Although having preflop action raked isn’t particularly common, it isn’t unheard of. Some live rooms, as well as online poker giant GGpoker, do indeed take rake even from the pots that never get to the flop.

So, what is the proper way of adjusting?

First of all, adding rake into the equation means that you are risking the same amount to win a little less than you normally would – even if everyone folds.

You can mainly adjust to this by throwing out borderline hands from your preflop ranges. They have now gone from slightly winning to slightly losing.

But keep in mind the board coverage element we mentioned in the first question. If you have hands in your range that cover boards which no other hand in your range does, it’s good to keep it in. Instead of not playing said hand at all, just reduce the frequency of how often are you going to play it.

Second, ending the hand preflop and therefore not having to pay the rake is one of the reasons why you would normally want to prefer a 3-bet over just flat-calling in some spots. Facing a Hijack open when being in the Cutoff is a classic example.

However, with preflop being raked, 3-betting no longer solves this issue, meaning you can (but do not have to) either create or widen your preflop flatting range.

If you elect to widen your flatting range, you should prefer hands that play well postflop and are good at realizing their equity, like:

  • Suited broadways
  • Suited connectors
  • Pocket pairs

If you’re an Upswing Lab member, you can view and join the discussion here.

Note: Want to know how to play every hand in every common preflop situation? Get instant access to extensive preflop charts and lessons (for cash games and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Lock your seat now!

The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of five sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab.

#4: How should I adjust my strategy when moving up from 25NL to 50NL?

For starters, let’s remind ourselves that the biggest benefit of having a solid strategy is that it is exactly that – having a solid default strategy. If you do have one, it shouldn’t really matter whether you’re sitting at $0.01/$0.02 or $100/$200.

Whenever you are moving up a limit, it might seem like the regulars there are doing stuff differently. For instance, that they are more aggressive than you are used to.

But you have to understand this is not because these players somehow found something better than a good balanced strategy. It is because the players at that lower limit were not playing a sound enough strategy in the first place.

So the actual answer to the question of “how should I adjust when moving up the stakes” is… don’t, really. Just continually try to improve your own strategy so you’re prepared to beat players at higher limits.

As Fried Meulders says:

You might think you need to do something different. Think that you need to fight fire with fire. But you don’t. You already are a red-line warrior and all you need to do is stick to trying to play solid poker.

And so if learning and executing good theoretical approach got you to a higher limit, just keep on perfecting your understanding of this approach instead of looking for some uncalled for adjustments.

Take a look at Fried’s whole response here:

Fried Q4 Response

If you’re an Upswing Lab member, you can view and join the discussion here.

#5: I’ve noticed recreational players over-fold versus my turn overbets. Should I adjust by reducing the sizing with my value hands to get more calls?

At the first glance this seems like a reasonable plan. After all, we do want to see our value bets called, don’t we? But there is a fatal issue with this kind of an approach.

If you change the size with your strong hands, you are basically splitting your turn ranges into two — one that only includes bluffs and one that only includes value-bets.

This makes rivers very awkward to play. I mean, how do you play a certain river knowing that by betting huge on the turn, you are pretty much left with only bluffs and nothing else?

There must be a better way!

Daniel Macaulay suggests that instead of using different sizes, you can adjust to over-folding opponents by simply bluffing with more hands.

If people are indeed folding too much, you will successfully take down more pots with your bluffs and therefore extract more money from these spots that way.

Also, the fact that your opponents are folding a lot might by a non-issue one way or another. Remember, we are talking about overbets, which the player IS supposed to fold a lot to.

And last but not least, Dan points out that the times your bigger bet gets called makes up for the slight increase in folds, because, well, it is a bigger bet.

Not only you are winning more money straightaway each time they call on the turn, you are also building a larger pot for yourself to win on the river.

So don’t worry, keep overbetting and be happy!

You can see Daniel’s full response here:

Daniel Q5 Response

If you’re an Upswing Lab member, you can view and join the discussion here.

Quick recap

1. You want to sometimes call 4-bets with medium suited connectors, because they have good equity, playability and give your range a better board coverage.

2. You want to strongly consider over-betting when you can have a lot of nutted hands that your opponent’s mostly can’t. As a bluff, you want to prefer hands that block villain’s most likely call downs.

3. If there is pre-flop rake in the game, you want to play a little tighter. You may choose to call more hands preflop instead of 3-betting.

4. Don’t feel the need to make big adjustments when moving up the stakes. Rather, focus on trying to play a solid strategy and keep on learning.

5. If players are folding too much, exploit this by bluffing more instead of reducing the sizing of your value bets.

Hopefully, we have extinguished these burning questions to your liking!

Note: Learn step-by-step how to become the best player at the table when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Elite pros have been adding new content every week for the past four years, and you get all of it when you join. Learn more now!

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Tomas Molcan

Tomas Molcan

Successfully trying not to be all that terrible at poker since 2009.

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