The one thing that has been bugging me lately when playing cash games (live) is the amount of soft play that is going on at the tables. Soft play occurs usually when friends are in the pot together and end up checking the hand down. This usually happens at lower stakes poker games, however I have seen witnessed this sort of stuff in $5/10 nl games.
I think that soft playing should not be allowed as it ruins the integrity of the game. If you partake in soft play you are cheating yourself, your friend and all the other players in the game. Many people don’t realize that by soft playing a hand with a friend they are in fact affecting the action of the other players at the table. Let me give you an example of how this can happen.
We are in a $5/5 game and there is a raise preflop of $25 dollars with four callers (approx 125 dollar pot). So five players are in the pot and the flop comes out 2s 5h 9h and it is checked around to the preflop raiser who is on the button. The preflop raiser makes it $100 and the first position calls. Let’s say the stacks are really big. Two other players fold and it goes to the player to the right of the preflop raiser who makes it $300 to go. The preflop raiser folds and then the initial player in first position says “buddy if I call can we check the rest of the pot down”. This is just an example. The player who raised to $300 and the person in first position may already have established to check down all pots after a bet is called heads up. This sort of soft play is designed to isolate one of the players in the game out of the pot (although might not be intentionally). The player in first position or the re-raiser might get a cheap draw to see the turn and river.
I believe that soft play is a mild form of collusion. More problems with soft play happen in tournaments. But I can’t really stand it in cash games. The next time you are at a poker table and someone asks you to soft play pots with you tell them that there are no friends at the poker table. And always be thinking about the integrity of the game!