Essential Cash Game Tips

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If you're a cash game player, and you probably are, you're going to want to read this post carefully.

Today, we're going to look at the 7 most essential things you should be doing at the table.  We'll cover bluffing, limping, and more.

1: Don't bloat the pot with medium value hands

I think that medium strength hands are some of the hardest hands to play in poker.  You're not beating too much, but you're also going to be head of some hands and all the bluffs.

When you've got a medium strength hand, you should be checking where possible and looking to catch bluffs against aggressive opponents.

What does a medium strength hand look like?  Good question!

[JD][Tc] on a flop of [JS][8H][6D]
[AC][4C] on a flop of [AS][8C][3S]
[7D][8D] on a flop of [KS][8C][4H]

In these examples, you've got a good hand but not a great hand.  But, as good as your hand is, it starts losing value when there are multiple players and lots of betting.  These are perfect examples of hands you should be checking on the flop, and looking to just call a bet and catch a bluff.

But (there's always a but) if your opponent checks behind, you can start playing these for value more because your opponent is likely to continue betting his hands that have you beat.  Don't let the fact that you started checking your hand make you lose value by not betting later streets if it's warranted.


2: Bet when you have a strong hand


[AC][KD] on a flop of [KC][Ts][5H]
[KH][Th] on a flop of [Tc][5D][2S]
[QC][QS] on a flop of [JD][Tc][7H]

It sounds dumb to have to say that, but lots of people make the mistake of trying to get tricky and trap people too often.  If you've got a strong hand, most of the time you should be betting it.  You'll make more money that way.  Duh.


3: If you're bluffing, have options

When you've got a hand that has lots of backdoor opportunities - say backdoor straights and backdoor flushes - these are good candidates to turn your hand into a bluff on the flop.

[6C][7C] on a flop of [AS][9C][5D]

This would be a great hand to try and make a bluff on the flop and represent the Ace.  Sure, you have literally nothing right now, but you can win the pot on the flop with a bluff, plus you pick up lots of outs with any club, and you've got a gutshot for a miracle.

This works well, because the times that you do make your hand, it's very well disguised and usually a strong hand plus you have some fold equity on the flop since your opponent isn't likely to have an ace.


4: Three bet your monster hands preflop

Not to beat up on trapping too much, but when you've got 

[QX][QX] or better and [AX][KX]

you should always be in three bet mode.

Now, in order to keep your three bet range balanced, you'll have to also three bet some weaker hands.  Good hands to balance out your three bet range are hands like suited connectors, and suited aces with another wheel card.

Keep in mind, that if your opponents are folding to your three bets too often, you'll want to widen your three bet range and take advantage of them over folding.


5: Don't be afraid to check the flop in multiway pots

Any hand is hard to play against multiple opponents.  So, we need to start getting more selective when we're facing lots of people in the hand.  The chances of someone flopping two pair go way, way up in a hand with four or more people.

As a general rule, consider these options for playing multiway pots:

  • Check strong top pairs and overpairs if the pot has 4+ people in it.  You still have a strong hand and folding is usually going to be a mistake, but your equity goes WAY down with this many players.
  • Make smaller bets when you hit two pair or better, or have a big drawing hand.  If your bet is too large, you risk chasing away all the hands that you're beating.
  • Don't be looking to catch bluffs - even against smaller than normal bets.  Your opponent is far less likely to be bluffing against multiple players.


6: Bet often in position and heads up

If you're heads up, and in position, you should be taking a stab at winning most pots.  Your opponent isn't showing strength by checking, so your cards really don't matter at this point.

This play works very well against weaker opponents who check far too often with their weak hands.

Just be careful of better players who will take advantage of this and check to induce you to bet for them.


7: Check raise the flop from the big blind

If you're in the big blind, and defend a very strong hand by just calling, you want to get a check raise in on the flop almost all the time.

This lets you start building the pot early so there's lots of time to try and get your opponent all in.



Take these tips with you to the table, and you'll make more money in the long run.  For all of the complexities of poker, there are still some simple things you can do to improve your bottom line!