This is just a brief introduction to some of the things to think about when playing cash games.
One of the biggest benefits of cash game poker is the ability to sit down and leave the game as you wish, instead of being bound to a schedule as with tournaments and to a lesser extent SNGs.
We won’t be going into the ins and outs of cash game strategy as this is a longer topic but there are many useful books and resources out there to look into if you want to learn more about this.
Always try and sit down in a good frame of mind for playing, refreshed and ready, as being in the best position to make good decisions will give you an in-built edge over players who are tired or perhaps bored having played for a long time.
If you are in a game and you start to feel mentally tired, you are unlikely to be making good decisions so unless it is a very good game, you might like to consider taking a break at this point.
Table selection is an important weapon in any cash game player’s armoury. Look around for tables with a high percentage of players seeing the flop as this will generally indicate a loose game and this is likely where you will make most of your money.
Sites generally have some basic stats on tables such as % of players seeing a flop and average pot size, so you can use these as indicators for what look like good games.
You can also open the game and watch your potential opponents for a few rounds before you sit down to get a feel as to how they are playing. This can give you invaluable information on their betting trends and patterns that should help you make better-informed decisions once you sit in the game.
Pick good games, be in a good mental state and learn a little about your opponents and it will help your profit margins.
Transition from Tournaments
Tournaments are very different from cash games and if you are coming from a background of mainly tournaments then you have to make some adjustments, both strategic and mental, if you want to be successful in cash games.
Firstly, since the blinds are set and do not increase as they do in tournaments, you will generally be playing much deeper, so consider this carefully. Concepts such as implied odds, precise value betting and setting up an image are very important in cash games, so be sure to work on these aspects of your game.
Mentally, there are some important differences too. Cash games can be volatile, meaning you can lose big pots and win big pots. Whilst this is exciting, it is an adjustment from tournament poker where typically all you can lose is your initial buy-in.
Tilting in a tournament is rarely hugely detrimental to your bankroll, whilst a bad cash session can see you lose many buy-ins, especially if you start to lose your head. Walk away when you are mentally perturbed and come back once your mind is calm.
Some players are natural cash game players and can deal with losses with sang-froid whilst other players may have difficulties with the swings associated with cash game poker.
The best way to find out if your game is suited to cash game poker is to give it a try so sign up to one of the many deals offered at these poker rooms and pitch your oar in and give it a go.