Fun gaming online is the bread-and-butter of poker, and anyone with aspirations of making it big in the brick-and-mortar world needs to find a seat at the felt. We talked to some professional players who have excelled at cash games to compile this list of things you should know before sitting down.
Cash Game Pots are Typically Much Smaller Than Tournaments – So Use Your Chip Stack More Judiciously.
- Cash game pots are typically much smaller than tournaments in terms of the amount of money at stake (up to 5x the buy-in), which is also true for the number of people playing. Cash games generally only allow 8-15 players, so $10 small blinds and $2 Big Blinds will be much smaller than the big blind in a tournament.
This means that your chips stack is going to be disproportionately high. A typical tournament will have 40-70% of the chips. In a cash game, you’ll have over 90% of the chips in play. This makes it even more important to be careful when you enter pots with your stack.
You Must Make Hands to Win Big Pots – You Can’t Steal Your Way to Riches at the Cash Game Table.
Some players think that in cash games, it’s possible to win the blinds and antes over the long run just by stealing, folding when you miss and coming back to the table to see if you get lucky again. This is a terrible strategy in cash games because of a phenomenon called “the squeeze”, where players willing to risk more than 100% of the big blind end up taking all of it.
The squeeze is where one player, usually with very high cards or a big pair, raises before the flop and another player re-raises. The first player has only two options – fold or call. If they fold, the second player will win all of the blinds and antes in the pot. If they call, then the first player is forced to go all-in on subsequent betting rounds. Because of the size of the blinds and antes subtracted from their stack, the first player is often forced to call or risk having their entire stack taken.
Cash Games are a Marathon, not a Sprint – You Have Time to Adjust Based on Your Opponents and Your Play.
In cash games, most players can sit down for hours. This means you have much more time to get reads on your opponents and figure out your own game plan. It’s often a good idea to make some minor adjustments in your game strategy throughout the day, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, if you’re trying to make a deep run in tournaments, it may be better to play tighter than usual so that you can recuperate by the end of the day after winning a few pots.
You can make many adjustments in cash games without risking your tournament life. You may want to throw away hands that you would never play in tournaments or even call on the button when you’re in the small blind. You can also change the way you bet based on what’s happening around the table. If a player raises behind your hand and then calls, it’s often good to re-raise by putting out an under-betting hand rather than pushing all-in for value.
You Need a Plan to Attack Cash Games – Tournaments are More About Reading Your Opponents.
The best players in the world follow a strict game strategy in every cash game they play. They know precisely how they will play each hand before seeing the flop, and then they stick with it.
The most skilled cash game players use various methods – stealing, calling, playing tight, making big bluffs, pushing all-in – to get their share of the pot. They force themselves to be patient at the tables and wait for their opponents to make mistakes before taking action.
A Poker Tracker can Help You Understand What’s Happening at Your Table During the Day.
A good poker tracker is a great way to figure out what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it. If your opponents are winning more than you are, then it’s a good idea to find out why. If you’re not getting calls when you raise, it might be because you’re playing too tight. You’re probably making mistakes if your opponent’s stack is moving up.
Remember that using a poker tracker can only tell you so much – the differences between players will vary so much that it’s best to get out of your seat and play the game instead.
Cash Games Can Help Expand Your Range of Play – In Tournaments, the Best Players Have to Pick a Particular Style and Stick With It.
The best cash game players have a much more comprehensive range of hands than their tournament counterparts. They play more hands before the flop, get involved in preflop all-in situations, and even push all-in with some hands they never would bet with in tournaments.
Since they have more freedom to play various hands in cash games, they can make reads on their opponents and do a better job of taking advantage of their mistakes.
You Must Know How to Protect Your Tournament Life with Cash Games.
What you can give up in tournaments can be made up for in cash games, but only if you know how to manage your stack. Many top cash game players can play a wide variety of hands and pick up a lot of small pots, but they also understand when it’s time to throw in chips. However, because of the squeeze, you may be forced to call all-in with a big hand if you have less than 50% of your stack in play. If this happens, it’s not necessarily bad – if you were playing in a tournament and had to call off your chips, you would be finished.
However, getting out of your comfort zone is easy if you try cash games at a low-stakes table with friends with Cricket ID. The mix of more aggressive play, more time on the felt, and less pressure can be a significant change of pace in your poker tournament life. If you’re looking for ways to get some extra cash from online poker, give it a shot – there’s no reason why you can’t make decent bankroll gains playing at the $1-$2 tables.