Top 13 Poker Cash Game Strategy Tips
Have you been playing tournament poker for years and want to try your hand at cash games? Are you a new player looking to explore the world of cash game poker?
In either case, you are in the right place to start constructing your cash game poker strategy and becoming a worthy opponent at ring game tables.
Whether you are playing poker online or live, the cash game tips I am about to give you will get your game going in the right direction.
While I can’t promise to make you a big winner in an instant, I can promise you that following these cash game poker tips will help your game and your overall results in the long run.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #1 – Don’t Play Too Loose
Tournament players transitioning into cash games often find themselves playing too many hands. Having a deep stack all the time does mean you can play looser but not too loose.
In live cash games, you will see many players playing nearly 100% of their hands and even more of those who play a 50% VPIP or close to it.
Regardless of how good you may be at poker and making postflop decisions, there is nearly no way to be profitable when playing that many hands against any kind of tough opposition.
One of the first steps to take when transitioning into cash games is to explore some preflop hand charts and adapt your cash game poker strategy to those charts.
While there are quite a few situations when you can deviate from the charts, going too far off the baseline will get you into trouble more often than not.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #2 – Don’t Play Too Tight Either
Playing too loose in cash games can be a real disaster. However, playing too tight can also be pretty bad, although probably not as bad in the long run.
Sitting down with a deep stack, you will get many opportunities to play hands in many different ways. Ignoring those opportunities will mean you are not winning a lot of money in certain spots and are giving away value.
Even if you are playing in a game where a nitty approach can make you a winner, you will probably do better by including some extra hands into your ranges in some spots.
Trying to play only the top 5% of your range, as Phil Hellmuth suggested in his book a couple of decades ago, simply won’t cut it in today’s modern cash game environment.
If you want to be a truly formidable foe, you should strive to construct a balanced strategy that makes you unpredictable and hard to play against.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #3 – Keep Your Odds in Mind
One thing that many recreational cash game players often forget about is the odds. Whether we are talking direct odds, pot odds, or implied odds, these are all concepts that some players seem to forget.
Whenever you face a bet or a raise in a cash game, you should think about the price you are getting, the way it relates to the pot size, and the implications that calling the bet will have on later streets.
The truth is there is a lot to be said about odds in poker, and they are one of the basic elements of the game, so you should never leave them out of your thought process.
You should learn more about each type of odds separately by reading extensive guides on them and then applying each of the concepts to the hand in question while playing it.
Poker Cash Game Strategy Tip #4 – Think In Terms of Ranges
While it can be difficult to move away from the idea of thinking about your specific hand, thinking in terms of hand ranges is absolutely the superior way to go about things.
You should always try and imagine a complete range of poker hands your opponent can have, as well as all the hands that you could have in a certain situation.
By thinking about a hand like this, instead of trying to guess which hand someone is holding, you will give yourself more options and a higher chance for success in the long run.
Fixating too much on one particular hand and hoping that your opponent has specifically that will lead to many terrible plays and a few that may appear like genius but are just lucky guesses.
Adapt your game to the modern way of poker thinking and use hand ranges to determine your next step. That way, you will always stay one step in front of opponents who think on a lower level.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #5 – Play Your Big Hands Aggressively
While disguising your monster hands by checking the flop on occasion can be a smart play, you should generally approach such scenarios aggressively and bet your big hands accordingly.
Starting from preflop, you should always enter the pot for a raise or a re-raise when holding a big hand like AA, KK, or AK, and keep putting money in while you are still likely to be ahead.
The same goes for flops, turns, and rivers. If you check the flop with a flopped set, don’t forget to apply the check/raise when an opponent does fall for the trap.
Setting too many traps and slow-playing your monsters too often will make you leave money on the table, put yourself in difficult river spots, and allow players to realize their equity without paying the full price.
Bet your strong poker hands big and aggressively, especially against weaker players, and you will make your life easier and win a lot more money in the long run.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #6 – Be Careful Multiway
Another common mistake players make in cash games is they play their hands the same way, heads-up and multiway.
However, multiway pots are a lot trickier than heads-up pots. Hands like top pair and even two pair lose a lot of their absolute value when facing multiple opponents.
On the other hand, there is a lot more value to chasing strong draws in multiway situations, which completely changes the way you should approach the cash game poker strategy in multiway situations.
Make sure to always be aware of the exact number of players in a hand and their actions, and don’t try to play such hands as if you were up against just one player.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #7 – Isolate the Limpers
There are few better ways to make money in cash games than consistently isolating the limpers and punishing them for their passive play.
Typically speaking, players who often limp into pots do it with a weak range and play it passively, which opens up a great opportunity for an aggressive player like yourself.
Whenever you isolate a limper in position, you will have both the range advantage and the positional advantage, which means you will be printing money.
After a while, you will get very confident with identifying limpers’ ranges and playing perfectly against them. This is one of the best ways to beat players in lower-stakes games.
One thing to remember is that you have to make your isolation raises bigger than regular raises so as to get rid of any stragglers and stay heads-up with the limper.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #8 – Don’t Be Results Oriented
This is one of those cash game poker tips that also apply to tournament play and even games that are not poker, where luck plays a role in the short run.
The end result of any single cash game session does not depend strictly on your skill level or the skill levels of your opponents.
A few unlucky runouts can make a solid winning session into a losing one. Sometimes, there is nothing you can do about it.
Even the best poker players in the world have losing sessions quite often, and you should not be worried about that at all.
Instead of focusing on the results of any particular hand or session, just make sure you are playing your hands in a smart and meaningful way, avoiding big mistakes, and constantly improving your game.
One thing that is a constant in poker is that the best players always win in the long run, so just keep playing well and putting in volume, and the results will come.
Poker Cash Game Strategy Tip #9 – Go After the Small Pots
The truth is that the difference between cash game winners and losers is not decided in the big pots but rather in the small ones.
For every 200 bb pot you play, you will probably play a few hundred 5 bb pots. Winning those consistently will add up to a big profit.
Big pots often come down to cooler situations or coin flips, which don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, as they tend to even out in the long run.
Small pots, on the other hand, are usually disregarded by recreational players, and they are what gives the edge to the best players in the game for the most part.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #10 – Control Your Tilt
Whether you like to admit it or not, you sometimes tilt when you are losing. Whether you start playing too many hands, shouting at the screen, or calling off too many river bets, you probably don’t play your A-game when you are stuck.
That’s perfectly OK, as there are very few players who don’t tilt at all, so there is no reason you should be an exception.
However, elite cash game players know that tilt can seriously damage their bottom line. So, they find various ways to put tilt under control.
In my experience, one of the best ways to control tilt is to step away from the table when you are not playing your A-game any longer.
Taking even a short break can do miracles, but sometimes it is necessary to step away from the tables for a day or two to regain the right perspective and confidence.
Poker Cash Game Strategy Tip #11 – Explore the GTO Strategy
GTO poker is something everyone is raving about these days, but most players don’t really understand what it’s all about.
As a lower-stakes player, you probably won’t need to understand GTO at a high level to beat your games, but that doesn’t mean you should not learn about it.
By working with poker solvers and exploring the depths of GTO cash game poker strategy, you will gain valuable insights into the game that you could not gain otherwise.
Solvers will teach you how to think about poker from a whole new perspective, and the knowledge you gain will be valuable both in the short and the long run.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #12 – Learn How to Exploit the Fish
While learning about GTO poker is great in terms of learning the baselines from which to deviate and exploring the game in-depth, you will want to play exploitatively in low-level cash games every time.
Your opponents are going to be making many mistakes, so you want to formulate a cash game strategy that focuses heavily on exploiting those mistakes.
There are many different ways you can do so, from isolating limpers to overbetting the pot with strong value hands, and all of these strategies work like a charm.
You will want to figure out the population tendencies in the games you are playing and find ways to exploit those tendencies to the best of your ability.
Use the GTO baselines or preflop hand charts to get a general idea of how you should play. Deviate from those baselines as needed to get the most value from your particular opponents.
Cash Game Strategy Tip #13 – Play Within Your Bankroll
Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make as a cash game player is to play too high and go busto simply because you didn’t have enough money to keep playing.
No matter how good you are at the game, having an appropriate bankroll will be crucial if you want to make sure you realize your equity and win in the game before running into a bad losing streak.
Downswings are a natural part of the game and very frequent in cash games, so you need to make sure you have enough buy-ins behind to keep playing through such swings.
You should not play in online cash games if you don’t have at least 40 buy-ins for the game you are playing, while live cash games may allow you to play with 20ish buyins, provided you are sure you have a big edge over most of the players in the game.