How To Deal With Being Card Dead

How to still win chips when you're card dead

Being card dead is a frustrating experience to say the least. You sit at the poker table and see unplayable hand after unplayable hand pitched at you from the dealer. It’s far from an ideal situation, but it is also part of the game we love. Knowing how to deal with being card dead shapes you as a poker player. Our tips will help you deal with such times.

Firstly, what is meant by the term being card dead? It is a phrase used to explain the periods of time where you are dealt a succession of weak hands. Being cards dead doesn’t matter if you are a loose-aggressive player because you’ll play any two cards. Most of us, however, have standards when it comes to starting hand choice, making being card dead a stressful time.

Being Card Dead Isn’t As Bas As You Think

Receiving less than stellar hands isn’t idea, but it isn’t as bad as you think either. You simply need to make the most of your time out of the action. There’s a saying that says make lemonade when life gives you lemons. Learn how to make the most of a bad situation and being card dead won’t be an issue for you.

You’re not going to be playing many hands while you are card dead. You should use the fact you’re not having to concentrate on playing to your advantage.

First, why not use your enforced downtime to observe your opponents more intently? It’s difficult keeping track of what’s going on at the table when you’re concentrating on winning pots. Take it upon yourself to learn more about a particular opponent or the entire table if possible.

Online poker players have the added advantage of a built-in notes system. Make it your mission to take notes on your opponents while you’re card dead. The two players to your left and the two to your right are the most important opponents at your table. Why? Because they will either be in your blinds when you’re on the button, or you’ll be in their blinds. Knowing if these players defend their blinds or attempt to steal at any given opportunity is crucial information.

Makes notes on any hands that made it to showdown. Did they come in for a raise with a weak hand? Did they make a continuation bet on the flop or delay it until the turn. Any information is welcome, it helps you go into battle with these opponents.

Use Your Image To Your Advantage

Poker is a game played with incomplete information in that nobody knows anyone else’s cards. Your opponents will notice you’re not playing many hands, but they don’t know you’re currently card dead. What’s the first thought that goes through your head when you see an opponent who’s hardly played any hands? That he’s tight, right?

Your opponents will take notes on you and label you as a very tight player. Use this image to your advantage and you still have a weapon to accumulate chips even when your cards trash.

Stealing the blinds or defending your own are the best ways to do this. Players stealing blinds from late position often do so with less than premium holdings, hands that can’t stand a re-raise. Don’t defend your blinds too liberally, but a well-timed three-bet will see you win the pot uncontested more often than not.

On the flip side of the coin, stealing the blinds when card dead gives your steal attempt more credit.

What Not To Do When Card Dead

Diverting from your starting hand strategy is a major no no when you’re card dead. You strategy works because you’re comfortable with it. Would you play Ts-7s under normal circumstances? No? Then don’t do it now!

It is very tempting to throw caution to the wind and play poor hands just so you’re involved in the game. Don’t fall into this trap, stick to your guns, make the most of your time, and use your image to your advantage,

Finally, never ever tell your opponents that you’re card dead. It is none of their business to know the hands you’re dealt. Plus you want them to think you’re uber tight and informing them otherwise removes one avenue to accumulate chips.

Matthew Pitt

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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