Cash Game Strategy
General Online Cash Game Strategy Tips
The cash game tips in this online poker cash game strategy section are primarily meant to improve your online cash game play but are also valuable for live cash game poker play. First of all, we will cover the question why you should always play the no limit variant when playing holdem poker, after that we will move on to more specific cash game tips and cover specialized cash game strategy suitable for both beginners and advanced (online) poker players.
Maybe you are a limit player, or maybe you play both limit and no-limit. The Dominate Online Poker E-Book and Website have been primarily designed for no-limit holdem (although limit and pot-limit players surely can profit from the great promotions and from the tools here as well). Now, you might ask, why should I play no-limit most of the time instead of limit? Well, first of all no-limit, they say is the Cadillac of Poker, but that’s just a saying.
The genuine reason to play no-limit holdem is that in no-limit a fish (bad player) must pay a significant larger amount of money for their mistakes than when they play limit holdem. THATS the reason! If you have read Sklansky’s ‘theory of poker’ you have, of course, come across his fundamental theorem of poker which is stated, in short, as following:
‘Every time a player plays differently than he would play if his opponents hole cards lay open then he makes a mistake and loses; on the contrary, every time a player plays the same way as he would play if his opponents hole cards lay open, he would make no mistake and he’d gain.’
This saying is the ground rule for all poker games as it touches the fundamental borderline between good players and bad players: a player who is good at reading another player (and his cards) will make less mistakes than a player who is bad at reading another player (and his cards).
Now suppose a bad player, who makes a lot of mistakes, plays the game of limit holdem: he would surely lose in the long run, but because there is a betting limit in this game, he won’t have to pay as much for his mistakes as he would have to in no-limit holdem, where there is no limit (hence the name) in betting. If you have trips and your bad opponent has top pair (thinking he is winning), in, for instance, 1/2 limit you can only bet 2 (pre-flop and on the flop) or 4 (post-flop) and raise and re-raise by 2 and 4 (pre-flop and on the flop) or 4 (post-flop). In no-limit you could (re)raise the fish all-in with your maximum buy-in of 200 dollars…
2.3.2 Playing multi-table poker and playing with bonuses
** When you move to a new poker room, play 1 table at the time. Be sure you get adapted to the environment before you play multiple tables.
** I advise you to play for a few sign up bonuses at different poker rooms first before you start playing perpetually at one poker room. A tiny warning though, there’s something dangerous about these bonuses. Playing with a bonus gives you the feeling you only play to clear the bonus. Try to avoid that thought. Not because it makes you think you should play extremely efficiently (that is of course a good thought) but because you can lose your joy for the game due to this thought. Many people clear a bonus as fast as they can, playing multi-table poker and constantly looking how many raked hands they have left to play.
This kind of mental state will not only bring you less joy but it will also worsen your game. If you play multiple tables/clearing bonuses then you will play primarily a card game (playing extremely tight), while you are not able to play the peoples game (which you should be doing) meaning you don’t watch your opponents. Even with the help of poker tools things can get tough: watching hundreds of stats at multiple tables simultaneously is not realistic. This is why I advise you to play WITH bonuses at all times, but never to play FOR the bonuses. A bonus should be perceived as an extra (you actually should just play and then get the bonus credited into your account unconsciously) and never play more tables than you can for it. Remember, MOST of your money comes from the bad players, not from the bonuses! So keep an eye on them, and not on how many raked hands you have left to play.
** Although playing multi table poker in order to clear bonuses is more efficient when you do this at shorthanded games (for there are more hands player per hour, thus receiving more money per hour) it is better to play at ring games for 2 reasons:
a. poker gets more complicated when you play shorthanded games (there is more bluffing, you are being watched more, there are more steals and it goes a lot faster)
b. in ring games tight play is a bit standard while there are some loose fish all the time (tight play is also better for bonus clearing)
** When you clear bonuses, try to pick tables with large average pots, especially because most bonuses in poker rooms are cleared even when you are not involved in the pot. Also, when you catch a monster it’s like your birthday with all these maniacs at your table!
This becomes increasingly easy when you take a subscription of Poker Edge and Lobby Edge together. You can then let their computer database do the table selection for you!
**I have just put some arguments against playing multiple table, but there is one big argument in favour of playing multiple tables (besides clearing bonuses more efficiently) and that is: it keeps you DISCIPLINED. It can, for example, be very boring to play at only 1 table, especially if you get a bad run of cards. Sometimes you just have to fold 40 hands in a row, and even if you are a good player, you will get bored. So play multiple tables in order to avoid boredom.
2.3.3 The importance of position in poker
** The best cash game strategy tip we can give to each and every player is to abide by and memorize the sklansky hand rankings before starting to play poker
** Always (try to) sit to the right of a tight player and to the left of the aggressive player. Sitting to the right of the tight player means that if you raise he will likely move out of the pot (this kind of knowledge is extremely valuable as your chance to pick up the pot is then bigger). Also it will help you to steal more blinds. Sitting to the left of the aggressor is even more important. First of all, it keeps you tight and disciplined.
But second, and more important, is that you can trap him when you have a real monster. You can then re raise him pre flop (or even slow play by calling, which you shouldn’t do too often – more on that later) and/or raise him on the flop. Having position on an aggressive player is priceless.
** Always maintain your discipline which is, first and foremost, playing a POSITIONAL game. Even if you get like 40 rags in a row, still fold KQ utg. If you play a positional game (which is playing looser on the button and in late position than in early and middle position) then you will win far more in the long run for you have the luxury of information before you make your own decision (making the last move in a round of betting gives you an informational edge).
** Stealing the button: even with a mediocre hand like 9J you should steal the button if you get the chance. Position is more valuable than cards. This sort of aggression will irritate players: they will probably think you are a loose maniac and your good hands will be called off more easily this way.
** You will want to play suited connectors and low and middle pocket pairs with lots of opponents as these are mostly drawing hands and you will get pot odds when there is a big pot with many people calling. High cards and big pairs must be played against only 1-3 opponents (preferably not three) as too many opponents will decrease the preflop advantage you have with these hands too much.
**Of course, don’t overrate position. You should still throw away trash hands on the button. But you can play low suited connectors or semi connector cards as the button remains to give you a great advantage!
** David Sklansky tells us in his book Theory of Poker the following: betting and raising is better than checking and calling (unless you are slow playing). ‘A caller is loser in poker’. If this is true, and I believe it is, then you should bet/raise not only when you have the best hand or when you are bluffing but also because poker is game of making decisions and if you are the aggressor you put your opponent to the decision. In my opinion there are no good passive players.
** Being either passive or aggressive (or both) has to do with betting styles and betting amounts while being loose/tight has to do with how many cards you play pre-flop (hand-selection). If you are a passive player (which you should not be) seek more aggressive tables, if you are an aggressive player (which you should be) seek more passive tables. If you are a good player you can play both styles and you will always play the opposite style of the table.
** Poker is a game of adaptation. If your table is tight then you should be loose, if your table is aggressive then you should be more passive. If you hold AA under the gun on an aggressive table you should just call; chances are someone will bet behind you and you can get more value out of your hand this way.
** Sometimes you see people multi-tabling. You come across the same names at different tables, or people are being slow and you think they are playing more than 1 table. If this is the case then follow this guideline: be more aggressive against them! They don’t want trouble, so re-raise more often. If they suddenly begin to play fast they will likely have a monster: prepare to lay down a good hand.
** Always watch the stack size of the players you play against. This is especially true in tournament play. Don’t play risky against bigger stacks than you, play with more risk against lower stacks.
** Raises and especially re-raises should be respected 85% of the time, especially when made by passive/tight players. Against aggressive players (even loose cannons/maniacs) you still should respect these kinds of play around 65/70%. This is due to the fact that not a lot of people have the guts to re-raise bluff.
** An example on how to play a stack/blind ratio play. Assume you have $500 and your opponent has $25, the blinds are $2-$4. You are sitting in the big blind with a JTs and your opponent moves all-in from first position (a position referred to as sitting under the gun). All other players fold. This is clearly a situation in which you should fold since you are most certainly the underdog and risking an additional $21 in order to win his last $25 is not a profitable play.
If your opponent also has $500, then a call may be acceptable as you have a chance of winning $500 by risking another $21. The decision of whether to call or not depends thus not only on how well your opponent plays after the flop but also depends on the amount of chips he possesses. Another example: you have $1000 and your opponent also has $1000, the blinds are $2-$4. You hold QQ and make it $20 to go. Your opponent, who is acting behind you, now moves all-in with his entire $1000. You should fold unless you know your opponent does not have AA or KK. If your opponent made the same play with only $60 in front of him, you should call his all-in bet in the hope that he does not hold AA or KK. Notice also that PUTTING short stacks all in is even better, for they can’t fold forever.
** Keep most raises down to between 70% and 100% (making it 3 times the big blind to go typically equals an 80% pot bet) if you don’t hold a monster in order to save money when you get re-raised or called by stronger holdings. If there are limpers in front of you, raise to about 4-6 times the big blind.
** Slow playing is only correct when there is no flush or straight draw and when you have a hand that will hold up, even if you would mean giving your opponents a free card.
** At a fishy game you can, when you feel like it, pull some easy tricks out of your briefcase. So if you want a tight image you just make 3/4 raises and if you don’t get called you ADVERTISE: you just show your bad cards and the fishes will think: hey that’s a loose maniac. Then you just wait for good cards and you repeat your play: they will now call you faster. This advertising tactic can only be used by bad players, so don’t do this when you are a mid stake or high stake player and you play at that level because they will see through it.
** Being aggressive is not only good to pick up pots but also, when you are in doubt, to buy knowledge. What I mean by this is that when you have QQ and the flop is K28 and you bet, and your opponent who is semi-aggressive raises you then it’s better not to call, for you will have to call him down at the turn and river. It is better if you re-raise a small amount: if he comes over the top again you know you are beat and you didn’t need to call his bets later on, saving you A LOT of money.
** Representing the flop: often, when you raise with big slick and the flop hits rag rag rag then you should bet that flop when you are in early position, and definitely when you are in late position and the other guy has checked it to you (if he does not check-raise a lot), so you know where you stand. If you don’t you could check out the hand, but I would not do this a lot. If someone has called your flop-represent bet than you should be careful. But determine the cards on the flop and think about this question: is it likely that the cards helped my opponents?
**I would generally not advise to slow play AA or KK by raising very little or even just calling: you never want to play these hands against more than 2 opponents. Playing against 3 or 4 opponents can be deadly – even with these hands. The same goes for playing two pair. Don’t overrate it because it can still be beaten by a possible straight, flush or full house on the turn and river when there’s a draw: bet a lot, picking up a nice pot is better than to lose it at the end.
**Be proactive, not reactive! It is definitely true that you should bluff less online, for calling only takes a mouse click. This is especially true if you are hunting bonuses: why make it complicated? Just play straightforward poker. But, online bluffing can be done, if you don’t play too many tables and you have a good insight in the players: if someone is very tight you could easily bluff for example, even online.
**A lot of players tend to play wrong on the river: it is important to realise that there are no cards to come. So slow playing is never an option anymore: if you slow played in early position all the way, don’t forget to bet it on the river or the other guy will check and you didn’t extract any money. On the contrary, if you are not sure if you got the winning hand, then most of the time you should check. If you play against a very aggressive player you might check to check-raise.
2.3.5 Mental management
**Be nice to fish: this can’t be said too often. Never be angry at fishes due to their bad play combined with luck that made you lose a big pot. Rather compliment him with his play so he will make the same play in the future again. If you would explain to him that he played stupid he would improve and that is not what we want. So be nice to fish, if they don’t catch their 4 outer inside straight draw on which they were chasing then you say: “ah you almost had it, just bad luck man, it happens to all of us!”
** You can’t win every pot, beat every game and win each day! This is very important to realize. You have to start realizing that fluctuations are part of the game. I’ve had days, even weeks without winning a normal sit and go just because of an unbelievably bad streak. These kind of streaks strike even harder at cash games because it can make you go on TILT, and this is not something we want. It even can change your game, because you start believing it is you who is doing something wrong. When you see this happening (which is hard because it’s you who’s playing) try to take a break: don’t play poker for a few days, weeks until you really think you’ve got your game back and you are looking forward to start playing again. Never lose your joy in the game, it’s the most important motivation after making winnings.
** Know when to move on: if you don’t have the right feeling at a table, if your opponents can’t be guessed easily then just go away from the table. You all know the famous poker saying: if you can’t spot the fish in 30 minutes, you’re it! Don’t feel ashamed of walking away from a table without making a profit, especially when you aren’t that experienced yet: rather see it as a good move by yourself. We always talk about ‘the fish’ but there are big and little fish and the little fish can bring you a hard day sometimes if they have a good game running or they are getting a nice run of cards.
** Instead of thinking of a reason to play a hand, you should always be thinking of reasons NOT to play a hand. This maintains discipline and stimulates intelligent thought.
** Take a break sometimes: poker is a game but it is also energy-consuming for your brain. Just go take a swing, work out, go eat something: make your mind empty from poker for sometime and then go play again. Only if you are motivated and not stressed can you play your optimal game.
**If you play at high stakes the players you play against will be better. Knowing this, you can use this to your advantage: ALWAYS be AHEAD of your opponents. At low stakes games your brain process should not get further than 2 steps. Which means: what do I have? What do I think he has? But at high stakes games your process should be containing 4 steps: What do I have? What do I think he has? What does he think I have? What does he think I think he has? And if you play top stakes maybe a fifth one comes around: Think about what your opponent might think that you think he might think you have. This is hardcore poker that you should use when you play with experts (Also see Sklansky, No limit holdem, theory and practice, chapter multiple level thinking)
**Be tighter at full ring games and be looser at shorthanded tables. The more players, the tighter you are. The less players the looser you are. This is also true when you are in a pot. When you play only 1 opponent then you may be loose/aggressive, but don’t do that in a pot with 6 people.
2.3.6 Other tips
**When you sit at a new table, never post your first big blind before you ARE the big blind. Poker is a game of patience and you will lose a lot of money in the long run (without noticing) if you always post your blind while you are not being obliged to do so. The same applies after you come back from sitting-out. Never post a dead blind but just wait till the big blind arrives.
**Keep notes on players about habitual, weird stuff. This can’t be said enough, especially if you play a lot at only 1 or 2 rooms. Making your own database is extremely important because it can give you an extra edge when you sit at the table. Every piece of information that can be used to your advantage is valuable. Notes can vary from authentic betting patterns (for instance weird all-in bluffs on the river) to time patterns (how long does he usually think if he has the nuts, and is that timeframe measured accurately?).
These kinds of stats can’t be provided by any poker tool so go on and do your own share of the work! Keeping notes has another advantage – it really keeps you focused on your opponents. Making money out of playing poker is a serious job and if you attend to these kind of things you certainly are on your way to becoming an expert.
** You often read that suited connectors are potential goldmines in no limit holdem. This surely is correct, for straights and flushes will, if made, mostly be the nuts. But, be sure NOT to play suited connectors lower than 7/8 (approx.) for you will lose big pots with lower suited connectors. I have been in many pots where I was raising my flush and my opponent went all in and showed me a higher flush. Although this does not happen a lot, it is not unusual either.
**Playing times: scientific research proves that just after dinner break and generally on the weekends in Europe you will find most online poker players playing. On normal day times from Monday to Friday you will rather come across pro’s, people who play 24/7 poker. Good times are also very late night/early in the morning Saturday and Sunday: at these times a lot of people (certainly Mediterranean and British people) come out of the pub a little drunk and play maniac poker.
**BUDDY LISTS: Don’t add fishes to your list, add THE FISHIEST OF ALL FISHES: the real dumb asses who don’t even know that a flush is higher than a pair. Otherwise your list will contain over hundreds of people, and that’s not what it’s intended for. Poker-edge will detect fishes, the buddy list is meant to extract the most bad players from the fishes.
There is a brand new tool out there called Smart Buddy. This buddy list is far more advanced than any other inbuilt buddy list or integrated buddy list in any poker rooms. (read more about this in the Poker Tools Chapter)
Get it here!
**Pot odds calculators calculate pot odds NOT implied odds AND reversed implied odds: so calculate those yourself! Implied odds has to do with the “extra” amount of money you stand to win if you complete your hand (make your outs).
This strategy info was focused on real money cash games, for information how to play on play money tables read that particular article.
Great Cash Game strategy. Not just some live poker tips but finally some good thoughts on online poker. You have to give the writers credits for coming up with unique poker tips that can’t be found anywhere else. I especially liked the introduction why no limit holdem is more profitable than all other forms of poker. It made perfect sense.
I simply loved the cash game tips. You can feel that the author(s) is an expert in online poker, he gives you inside tips and strategies that are really worth something. Read these cash game strategies while you play and you’ll certainly become a better player
Panama City, Panama
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