Continuing yesterday's post about players complaining about being card dead, another aspect that needs to be analyzed is what kind of a game are you playing when you find yourself "card dead". The type of game you are playing and the circumstances in it, make a big difference in determining what kind of hands you can play, what kind of moves you can make, and whether or not you are truly "card dead."
For example, in a multi table tournament, being card dead in the early stages, is not a bad thing. Play tight early on and keeping yourself out of trouble can be good, especially for more novice type players. There is not need to pick situations to try and make steal attempts with poor hands because there is not enough to gain and too much to lose. However, being card dead in the latter stages of a multi table, may dictate that you start making moves with a wide variety of hands in a lost of different situations, because the blinds and antes will eat you up otherwise.
Suddenly, K-8 off suit on the Button becomes a big hand. A suited connector in middle position may be worth playing if you have to worry about the blinds catching up to you. The worst thing you can do in these situations is nothing because your stack will soon become irrelevant and you will be called by big stacks regardless of what hand you play, if you let things go too far.
By contrast, cash ring games are easier to manage when you can't catch a good hand because there is no sense of urgency. Sure, you need to pick up the blinds to keep yourself healthy every now and then. I am not advocating sitting there folding until you get AK, but you do not have to worry about antes and blinds escalating as you do in SnG's and multi tables. This means you can take it easier, pick spots and wait for a decent hand.
Yesterday I said that being card dead ends up forcing players to play less than premium hands because of boredom and eventually gets them into trouble. This is true, however, if you truly cant catch a hand, it is probably because you are being way too tight. For me, I find in a big tournament, seeing about 25% of the flops is about right. I notice too many players sitting there waiting for the monster and then being pissed off when they get it and are beaten by a looser player who happened to catch a big hand.
Playing tight is fine, but if you are not drawing cards, get in there with JT and see what happens. I put out an ultra-conservative player in a tournament the other day because he sat and waited for AA and when he finally got it, the flop came KQ-9 and I happened to be in the hand with JT. My flopped straight held up and the big hand this guy waited the whole tournament for did him no good.
You have to take a chance at some point and you can always shut down after the flop. The key is not getting too attached to hands that won't win. It is one thing to play K-3, but if a K hits the flop and you encounter resistance in the form of a raise or re-raise, you likely have to shut it down or you will be out-kickered.
When you are card dead, "stick and move" is the best strategy. You might hit a monster hand and then being card dead doesn't seem so bad!