Poker Cash Game Strategy

Cash games are an interesting form of poker, and by far the earliest within the history of the game. Ring games are continuous, you can forever bring more chips to the table and join and leave tables as and when you like.

It has often been said that people play tournaments to earn themselves glory, and cash games to earn themselves a living. The truth is a little less black and white. The internet has thrown open doors for people to play dozens of single table tournaments simultaneously, which can provide a fairly stable stream of income, but there is still some underlying truth to the initial statement. Cash games are the primary choice for many of those who want to earn a living from the game.

To be successful in cash/ring games it is imperative for you to have a strategy. Here are some possible tips that you may live to take into account when playing cash/ring games:

Starting hands

The starting hands that you play should be based on your read of whether the table you are on is loose or aggressive.

If you are unable to get a good read on other plays, or would like to play many tables at once (i.e. multi-table), it is recommended that you only play strong hands. Strong poker hands would include the following:

  • High pocket pairs (including AA,KK,QQ,JJ,1010)
  • High Cards (such as AK,AQ,AJ,A10)

However, if only a small bet is required to participate in the hand (such as only the big blind or twice the big blind), I would also recommend playing the following:

  • The remaining pocket pairs (including 22,33,44,55,66,77,88,99).
  • Remaining high cards (including KQ,KJ,K10,QJ,Q10,J10).

Play tight-aggressive

In the starting hands section, we recommended that you only play a strong poker hands on ring games, unless you can get a good read on the rest of the table. When you have these strong starting hands you should also play them aggressively through betting and re-raising, forcing other players to fold and make mistakes with their decisions.
Playing a tight aggressive strategy will enable you to take advantage of loose players and maximise your profits.

If you play with this tight strategy of only playing strong hands, other players will recognise and believe this. This may also enable you to strategically take advantage of this belief. If you play the odd weaker hand, other players will still expect you to have only the best pocket cards, and hence it will be easier for you to force them to fold.

Don’t constantly review your bankroll

Firstly, don’t keep checking your bankroll while your tables are open to see how much you are up or down for the session. It is a distraction, and it can cause you to alter your play and take more risks if you’re behind or tighten up to try and lock down a winning session. Keep your eyes and concentration on each hand, and don’t ever check the cashier until you’ve closed all your tables.

Do not chase your losses

Linked to this, is the question of cutting sessions short or chasing losses when a session is going poorly. As a general rule, it’s best to consider extending a session when it is progressing well, and to end a session early when you are running bad. It doesn’t matter how good you are at controlling your emotions, it can never do any harm to spend 20 minutes composing yourself fully before restarting a session. Often when we think we are still playing very well despite negative variance, we are prone to small errors that we just don’t notice.

Consider the use of Software

Another important learning tool is software which allows you to record a full session, or play back the key hands. Analyse this the following day and take notes. Assess your play and be brutally honest with yourself about whether you could have made better choice, even in the hands you won. Tracking programmes with heads-up displays (HUDs) can do this for you, although in my personal opinion these are in a moral grey area as other players either don’t use them, or know they exist. However, with a higher standard of poker being played online in recent year, you want every edge you can get, so we would recommend them!

Practise, practise, practise!

If you want the greatest edge possible, there is simply no substitute for immersing yourself in the game, and learning to improve on a daily basis. Playing and analysing the poker will teach you much faster than reading books or listening to experts, although the latter should be used for fine tuning! Visit our Best Poker Sites comparison to find the best sites to play!

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