Cash Game Poker Strategy

Cash games are considered to be the most profitable game for poker players.  There are a ton of both online and live poker players who make a very good living off of playing cash game poker.  While there is a lot more money on the table to win in a cash game compared to a tournament, there is also a lot more at stake as well; which is why you need to have a good idea on how to play cash game poker.  Cash games are quite a bit different from tournament, mainly in terms of the types of hands that you’ll play, and also the amount of bluffing.  Some of the most profitable cash game players are the ones who can make a good bluff, and read a good bluff.

Buying In

When it comes to cash game play, it’s always recommended to buy in with a pretty good number of big blinds (normally 100-200) giving you plenty of room to play some hands.  Cash game play is mainly different from tournament play, because you can open a much wider range of hands, especially from later position like on the button.  If it folds around to you on the button, players should raise a large number of their hands in hopes of either stealing the blinds, or forcing their opponent to play out of position throughout the hand.

Three Betting

Three betting is also big when it comes to cash games, as you want to put the pressure on your opponent as much as possible.  It is always best to be the one applying the pressure, compared to the one having the make the big calls (unless you’re holding a monster of a hand).  Three betting in position is always a good call, especially with a pocket pair or two big cards pre-flop.  If someone raises you from just before you in late position, consider make a three bet to put the pressure back on your opponent.

Bet Sizing and General Play

Bet Sizing is crucial when it comes to cash games.  If you have a monster of a hand, you don’t want to scare everyone off of their hands (this is most important post flop).  If you flop a set on a dry board and are first to act, just check to your opponent and give them the opportunity to bet at you.  If they do, it’s not a bad idea to just flat call, and check the turn again.  If they don’t bet, then lead out on the turn with a medium sized bet, nothing too crazy.  Now if you are in the position where you call and check the turn, and the player bets again; now is the time to three-bet, not huge but just enough to put some pressure back on and see if you can get your opponent to four-bet, or call.

The most important thing about cash game play is to attempt to get as much value out of your hands as you can.  Betting big at someone who has nothing, or has something that they would not call you with; is not the right move.  It can be smart to attempt to get your opponent to bet at you sometimes, in order to build up the pot.

Bluffing

Bluffing is one of the hardest skills to master in cash games, but it’s also a skill that is definitely needed to be a very profitable cash game player.  A good time to consider a bluff is if you’ve seen a player playing quite a few hands, or if you have position on someone.  If you are in a hand heads up, and are second to act, if the board is fairly low cards with a paired board; that could be a great time to put out a three-bet bluff.  Paired boards lower the odds of the player you’re up against having a part of that flop, giving you a good position to make a move to pick up the pot.  Another thing to remember about bluffing is that it’s not recommended to bluff into a pot that involves three or more people, unless you have an incredible read.

Here is an example of a good sized bluff.  If the pot contains $10, and your opponent bets out for $4, raising to $12 or $13 can put the pressure right back on your opponent.  Bluff’s don’t always have to be huge, even a bluff that is 2x or 3x the size of your opponents bet may be able to get the job done.  Four betting is a tough spot, and only is recommended if you have seen your opponent three bet quite often, or have a good read of his play or how the hand has gone.

One of the worst things that you can do in cash game poker, is try to make hero calls.  The best way to be a profitable cash game player is to play smart, and make moves at the right times.  Trying to make hero calls multiple times will just end up putting you in the negatives.