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Cash Games Strategy

Cash games require their own approach if you’re to succeed. There’s no use hitting a cash game with your standard tournament philosophy — it’s more to do with seizing your opportunities, and exploiting your margin for profit as you play through each hand. Accepting you will incur some losses along the way, you need to play a percentages-based game, where your focus is on taking easy profits and being aggressive on strong hands.

With that in mind, here are a few strategies you can keep close at hand for maximizing your return in poker cash games.

Capture The Blinds

This is especially true when you’re in position. Capturing the blinds on mediocre hands is a good way of exploiting the percentages in your favour. Remember, in cash games, it’s all about playing smart. Most players in cash games won’t be too keen to three-bet you all the way, unless they have a strong hand, which you might not want to play against anyway. If you’re prepared to be a little more bullish when you’re in position, this can help you steal more of the blinds and early pots as you go, which your cards wouldn’t otherwise justify.

Use The Continuation Bet

When you’re on a medium to strong hand, continuation betting in a cash game can help you weed out those with strong hands from the bluffers. If you think you have a strong enough hand to challenge, just keep it going — especially pre-flop and on the river, there will be opportunities to price out those without strong enough hands. At the same time, you don’t want to overcook it. Bet a sensible pot proportion each time you go, and don’t go too wild if you want to keep other players in the hand, contributing to your pot.

Play Tight/Aggressive Throughout

Cash games are designed for tight/aggressive play, and this will be your go-to strategy for achieving your objectives. Don’t carry on with hands that are low-value and unlikely to come up for you — it doesn’t make sense over the long haul. You should only be pushing with around one in three of your hands long term, obviously depending on what you draw. When the opportunity does arise from your hand, including half-chances where you can bluff a steal, don’t be afraid to push for more aggression in your play. This is how you conquer opponents in the cash game, where they have to think about whether it’s worth their while betting up with you.

Bet With The Pot

It’s often too easy to get carried away in cash games, and to go for bigger bets to up the stakes. But sometimes this just isn’t justified by the pot. Ideally, you want to restrict your betting to a proportion of the pot, rather than a multiple of it. This ensures you can keep more players in the game for longer, but also means that if you do lose the hand come showdown, you don’t have too much of a deficit to recover.

Play With Padding

This goes to the heart of choosing which cash games to play. Say, for example, you’re sitting with a $200 bankroll — you don’t want to start playing at a $200 table. You need some padding, some margin for error within your bankroll that affords longevity and allows you to withstand natural variance in the game. Sometimes, even with the tightest strategy, you just get unlucky. If you’re playing at too high a level for your bankroll to support, these natural variances can screw your chances of otherwise emerging profitably.