The great thing about the poker cash game strategy is that it is so complex and situation dependent that even the best players in the world always have something to learn.
To help you make the next step in improving your strategy, we break down the top tips for cash games in this article. Correctly implementing any of these tips should turn you into a better cash game player and allow you to improve your results.
Attacking capped ranges means betting against opponents who, based on their actions, should not have a strong hand in their range.
This strategy is the easiest way to improve your red line and start exploiting unbalanced opponents, which means that it will work best against opponents that play straightforwardly and those at the lower limits.
One of the spots in which most of the weaker players have a capped range is when they check the flop after raising preflop. This is one of the situations in which you should try to attack their range by betting the flop if you are in position or the turn and river if you are out of position.
Just remember, if you are out of position, evaluate if the turn card improves your opponent’s range, in which case your opponent could become much stronger than on the flop, and your bets will not serve their cause.
Another thing that you should watch out for is attacking capped ranges in every situation because even bad players will notice this, and they might start checking good hands and letting you bluff into them.
Getting tricky with good hands, also known as the fancy play syndrome, prevents new poker players from extracting the maximum amount of value.
Maybe you watched some of the top poker players in the world slowplaying their monsters and trapping their opponents, and you think that it is the right thing to do. You might not realize that they play against each other very often, and they know their opponents’ tendencies and ranges very well.
This is what allows them to be tricky and still get the maximum amount of value with their good hands.
On the other hand, most average players don’t have as good reads on their opponents, which prevents them from knowing when their opponents are likely to bet and when they are likely to check.
By checking your good hands, the only thing that you can do is hope for your opponent to be aggressive and bloat the pot himself. But the thing is that most players at the lower limits are passive, and they will check more often than they will bet.
Unless you have a very good read on your opponent and his range, you should lean towards fast playing with your good hands.
If there are one or more limpers at your cash game table, congratulations, you are playing in a good game. However, this won’t do you good if you are not involved in pots with them.
One of the best ways to play in as many pots with limpers as possible is by isolating them with a wider range than usual and raising more yourself.
The majority of limpers are not so good at poker, so you should be able to use your skill and outplay them even with a wider preflop range.
Another important thing to remember is that in most games where there are limpers, there will also be other good players trying to get involved with them. Take notice of this and start attacking regular players who isolate limpers with weaker ranges with 3 bets.
Remember, the money won't come by itself, even if you are sitting at the table with weaker players. You need to make sure that you are putting yourself in a position to succeed, and one of the best ways to do this is to play heads-up pots against players who are less skillful than you.
Luck is involved in poker in the short term, and there is nothing you can do about variance. There will be financial and emotional rollercoasters, and you better be prepared for that in advance.
Sometimes you will win more than your fair share of the pots, and other times you will lose more than you should. This is just the reality of the game, so accept it.
With this said, the thing that sets winning players apart from those struggling with poker is how they deal with the losing sessions. Let’s be fair, anyone can win when things are going their way, but the more important thing is how you play when you feel that the universe is against you.
Making good and correct decisions when you are losing hand after hand is no easy task, and even the best players can struggle with staying rational and not letting their emotions get the best of them.
If you are at the beginning of your poker career and still haven’t learned to keep your emotions at bay, there is nothing wrong with leaving the tables and letting your head cool. You can implement this approach every time you have a bad session until you are prepared to play through it.
Remember, you can win a lot of money when you are running well, but you will almost always lose more money when running badly, so you need to learn how to deal with the variance.
This is one of the spots in which poker players make the most mistakes. It has become so notorious that it even got its own theorem, called “The Baluga Theorem,” which states:
“You should strongly re-evaluate the strength of one-pair hands in the face of a raise on the turn.”
Based on extensive research of databases, at lower-stakes games, players tend to make raises on the turn primarily with monster hands that beat one pair or two pairs.
This means that based on the tendencies of players on the lower stakes, even if you fold every time when facing a raise on the turn with two pairs or less, you will not be making a big mistake in the long run.
Of course, we recommend you evaluate each hand individually and try to come up with your opponent’s raising range even if you decide to fold. You can also jump into some micro stakes games and call down in these spots just to see on how many occasions the players will be bluffing, and you might have a hard time finding many of those.
Another very popular cash game theorem that has stood the test of time is “Zeebo's Theorem.” This theorem states:
“No player is capable of folding a full house on any betting round, regardless of the size of the bet.”
You might think, well, I saw a lot of players folding a full house on TV. That is because all of the hands in which players make those kinds of laydowns become viral, and they become viral because they are rare.
Most players, especially on the lower stakes, have never folded a full house in their poker career, and you should take advantage of that.
If you think your opponent has a full house and you have a better hand, you should bet as big as possible. You should even overbet shove all in, don’t even pay attention to the size of the pot, just shove.
Taking advantage of these spots is even more important if we take into account that these hands don’t happen often, so when they do, you need to extract the maximum possible value.
Still having doubts about this spot, we suggest you try to think when is the last time you lay down a full house?
For a lot of low stake games, this is an auto-profit spot for the following reasons:
Just think about how do you personally approach this spot as the in-position player? Do you lean more towards folding than calling?
However, to create auto profit in this spot, the hand must meet certain conditions such as:
With this said, you find yourself in a similar but not an identical spot, it will probably be a good idea to evaluate the spot based on the action that preceded in the hand rather than this theorem.
Because they don’t happen as often as heads-up pots, multiway pots are some of the least explored spots in Texas Holdem, making players make more mistakes and incorrect decisions.
One of the best ways to approach multiway pots, especially out of position and on the flop, is by checking. Checking allows you to gain more information on your opponents and use this to narrow their ranges.
Most players tend to overvalue hands in multiway pots because they treat them the same way as in heads-up situations without realizing that the more players are in the hand, the more chance there is that someone has them beat.
Because hands like top pairs and two pairs are still strong in these situations, but they are not as strong as in heads up, checking the flop will allow you to assess the strength of the hands your opponents are holding, and it will prevent you from getting into spots where you bet your top pair into three people on the flop and face a raise. Instead, you should put a lot of these hands in your checking range and allow yourself to control the size of the pot more effectively.
Players usually want to win huge pots and overthink it by trapping preflop. If you have a premium holding, just go for a raise or 3-bet, and do not try to be fancy.
Even if you successfully trap someone from time to time or get another player to join the action, it will not compensate for your lost EV in the long run.
Of course, there are some situations where trapping with monsters makes sense, but you really need to have a compelling reason to make that play. Otherwise, you are just wasting money.
So unless you have a huge whale sitting after you playing every second hand, or a short stack who is constantly showing, you should go for a raise yourself. Even in these situations, 3-betting will yield you a higher expected value, so make things easy for yourself and play aggressively.
The last thing you should add to your cash game strategy that will immediately impact your results is bluffing with hands with good backdoor potential.
Most players don’t bluff enough, and one of the best ways to increase your flop betting frequency is to add hands with good backdoors into your flop bluffing range.
By doing this, you not only add combinations to your flop bluffing range, but you also increase your turn and river bluffing frequency.
Another benefit of using hands with good backdoor potentials as bluffs on the flop is that when you make your hand on the river, your opponents will have a harder time putting you on a value range.
In overall poker strategy, hands with backdoors are gaining more and more attention over the last ten years, as players have discovered that they can be much more purposeful than was thought before.
While it is not always very effective in MTTs because of shallow stacks, this is a powerful play in cash games and should be used frequently.
Implementing tips from this article will do wonders for your cash game strategy unless you start blindly following them without thinking about the hands.
Remember, there are some spots in poker where you can always make money with the same play, but it is important to recognize if your opponents start adjusting.
If you always follow the same strategy without paying attention to your opponent, it can be detrimental to your poker results, so always be on the lookout for more information and adjust accordingly.
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