Poker Cash Game Strategy: Top 10 Tips from the Pros
Cash game poker is one of the purest forms of the game as it leaves more maneuvering space and makes every hand played a completely unique event.
Unlike tournament poker, where you may have to worry about being busted if you make one wrong call, cash games allow you to be wrong on occasion and still keep playing.
If, like many real money poker players, you prefer cash games over tournaments, you have come to the right place for some useful wisdom from our poker pros.
These are the top 10 poker cash game strategy tips that will help you win more often and become a long-term winner in cash game poker.
Cash Game Tip #1: Stay Aggressive Within Reason
Cash game strategy is all about balance and finding just the right frequencies at which to apply different plays in different situations.
If you want to be a consistent cash game winner, you will need to be more aggressive than most of your opponents, but not all of them.
While many players play too tight, some take aggression to extreme levels and play like maniacs, which is not a good idea at all.
You should create a cash game strategy that relies heavily on well-timed aggression and balance instead of blind aggression and trying to win every pot.
If you overdo your aggression in cash games, you will undo much of what you achieve with it. You will become easy prey for the tighter players who are just waiting for their opportunity.
Remember to balance out your ranges, time your aggression, and be aware of opponents who might be setting a trap for you to fall into.
Cash Game Tip #2: Never Stop Studying
Of all the cash game poker tips I can give you, this is probably one of the most valuable ones! Always keep learning more and improving your game.
Many of your opponents will be doing the same, and failing to study yourself will end up with everyone else getting better except you.
Players who don’t study will remain on the same level, while you will be able to move further away in your poker understanding and make even fewer mistakes.
This will make you an even bigger winner in the games.
Poker is a game that’s always evolving and changing. Thus, learning new strategies and ways to adapt to other players’ strategies is key to long-term success and survival.
Cash Game Tip #3: Adjust to the Game
One of the worst things many cash game players do is that they always play the same. Even if you play a very balanced game, failing to adjust to your opponents completely will mean you are leaving money on the table.
This is especially the case with live cash games where players tend to make some wildly sub-optimal plays and play way too wide or way too tight, opening them up to all sorts of exploits.
When you sit into a game, you should carefully observe how everyone is playing to pick up on some general tendencies.
The more you can pinpoint particular players’ tendencies, the more you will be able to exploit those tendencies and outplay the players.
Your poker cash game strategy should always be adapting to the way others are playing and ways you can make more money by playing to their weaknesses.
If you try always playing with the same approach, you are going to miss out on a ton of value and make the game less fun for yourself in the process.
Cash Game Tip #4: Don’t Play Games That Make You Uncomfortable
Whether it is because the stakes are too high, the structure is not right, or the company simply isn’t pleasant, you should never play in cash games that make you feel uncomfortable.
You should always be playing in a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere for yourself and not under pressure and outside of your comfort zone.
To truly crush in cash games, you will need to be relaxed at all times and able to make any available move, regardless of the cost.
If you are playing too high for your bankroll, this could prove to be a problem in many ways, as you may not be willing to pull the trigger, or you may get too nervous when you do.
Instead, make sure to progress through stakes at a steady pace, beat each available level. Climb the ranks slowly but surely until you are comfortable playing high-stakes cash game poker.
Cash Game Tip: #5 Be Willing to Quit
Cash game poker can be ruthless when it comes to variance, and you will run into sessions where you are losing every hand no matter what you do.
When sessions like this do come along, you should be willing to quit at some point and take some time to regroup, but the real question is when?
You don’t want to quit every session after you lose a couple of buy-ins, as this will mean you are not getting much volume in, which is critical for success.
On the other hand, if you play too long and end up getting tilted, you could lose money you didn’t need to by not playing good poker.
Finding the right balance can be difficult, but you should make sure that you quit before you go on full tilt and while still playing reasonable poker.
If you catch yourself chasing against the odds or making silly bluffs you know will get called, it’s time to call it quits and take some time off.
Time away from poker can do miracles and put things back into perspective. It will allow you to come back fresh and play great poker again.
Cash Game Tip #6: Get Ready for Your Sessions
Before you sit down to play poker, it is always wise to take some time to get into the zone. You can do this by watching a quick coaching video or looking over some recent poker hands and thinking about your overall cash game strategy.
Some players choose to meditate or use other techniques to get into the right state of mind, and this can be different things for different people.
It can also be wise to actually jot down a list of the most frequent mistakes you have made in previous sessions and think about how you could avoid them in this one.
I recommend taking at least 30 minutes to do all this before you actually get dealt in and play your first hand of poker.
Jumping straight from watching a movie into playing poker can lead to some funky play early in the session. This, in turn, can lead to unnecessary losses of both money and confidence right out of the gate.
Cash Game Tip #7: Isolate Limpers Frequently
One of the best cash game strategy adjustments you can make is to make sure you isolate limpers when you are in position as often as you can.
This means making sizable raises in spots where players in early positions limp into the pot with a wide range of hands.
By making a 4x or 5x raise, you will be able to shut out the blinds and stay heads-up with the limpers often, and you will have a great advantage.
Not only will you be in position, but you will also generally have a much stronger range, as most players will not limp/call with any of their strongest hands.
Furthermore, players who limp into pots are often very passive and timid postflop as well, which will allow you to take down many pots with small c-bets and continued aggression.
Isolating limpers with great frequency and being the one to take the initiative in these spots will make you the big winner at your table.
Cash Game Tip #8: Don’t Slow Play Your Big Hands
Back in the day, players used to slow play their big hands, both preflop and postflop, very often. However, this strategy usually leaves value on the table.
Slow playing hands preflop will allow players to get into pots cheap with a very wide range and will keep the pot small for postflop play.
Further slow playing after the flop is dealt will give everyone a chance to chase all sorts of draws and will not allow you to define ranges at all.
You should almost always 3-bet and 4-bet your monster hands before the flop and very rarely do anything but bet and raise with your flopped sets, straights, and flushes.
Making a raise right away allows your opponents to make the mistake of calling the raise with weak hands or draws or trying to bluff you off your hand by shoving all in. All of this is not possible if you check your hand or just call a bet.
Playing your big hands fast will also allow you to bluff more often, as everyone will know you make the big raise with a set as well. Thus, they may be more inclined to fold some hands when you put in a raise with nothing but a draw.
Cash Game Tip #9: Expand Your Bluffing Range
Many cash game players only include the most obvious bluffs into their bluffing ranges, such as open-end straight draws and flush draws.
However, if you want to create a cash game strategy that’s really had to play against, you should expand that range significantly.
Adding hands that have a backdoor draw potential or overcards will give you a chance to bluff more often and put your opponents difficult spots.
Not only will you be able to keep bluffing on many turn cards, but you will also often get there in ways that your opponents could not predict by the river.
Bluffing too often is not recommended either unless your opponents are extremely passive. That said, most players bluff way too rarely and leave a lot of money on the table by not turning hands as backdoor nut flush draws into bluffs on the flop.
Cash Game Tip #10: Learn How to Control Pot Size
The last of the ten cash game poker tips I will share today has to do with pot control, and it’s one that can’t be overstated.
Novice players often have a tendency to make raises with medium-strength hands like top pair/weak kicker on the flop, and this can lead to some very awkward spots.
Instead, you should go for those big bets and raises when you have the strongest parts of your range or when you are bluffing.
Everything in between can be used for pot control.
By simply calling bets from your opponents or checking such hands in multiway pots, you will allow yourself to get to the river for a more affordable price and not lose too much when you are dominated.
When thinking about a flop raise, ask yourself whether you can get value on further streets as well if this raise gets called and you have the best hand. If the answer is no, you probably should not be raising.
Learning when to pot control and when to fire from all cylinders is a part of any good cash game strategy and something you will have to learn if you want to be a successful cash game player.
Putting It All Together
Cash game poker is a very complex game that requires many different strategic adjustments and non-stop attention from the players.
However, if you apply the cash game poker tips I have shared with you here the next time you play, you will have a much better chance of coming away a winner.
It’s important to remember that even the best poker players in the world have losing cash game sessions. So, make sure you always play your best game and don’t be too results-oriented.
Put all my cash game tips together when forming your cash game strategy, and remember to have fun with it, play within your bankroll, and keep improving your game until you finally become a consistent winner!