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Be a Poker Cash Game Pro I. - Intro to Cash Game
Be a Poker Cash Game Pro I. - Intro to Cash Game
In this series I will be focusing on poker cash game. We will start at the very basics of the game and will progressively cover more advanced topics. The only thing you need to know beforehand is the rules of Texas Hold’em Poker and the basic terminology. This series is meant for players, who only just started playing poker, but more advanced topics are certainly great even for professionals. The topics are universal to both live and online play, so whether you aspire to beat your friends at land-based casinos, or prefer the comfort of playing on you computer.
You may not agree with everything, and that’s absolutely ok. Feel free to discuss in the comment section below each article. Poker is amazing in how many ways you can play and win. It is also a game you can beat in the long run as long as you play better than your opponents. That is exactly why you certainly can become a professional player and win consistently and based on your skill level.
The main topics covered will be:
- Basic principles and the theory
- Strategies from the most basic to the most advanced
- Psychology of poker
- Topics like diet, daily routine and other that are essential for your success
The topics in most articles are certainly applicable during tournament play, but this series is very much focused on cash game. This series aims to summarise everything a player should know to become a successful player, This doesn’t mean that there are no other means of study and the more you study high-quality content, the better and faster you become one of the great players.
The most played poker format nowadays is Texas Hold’em, so this series will focus solely on this variant. Like I said, there may be more opinions on one topic and there is no universal guide to how to beat poker. Every player plays differently and how it suits their play style. If you have a different opinion on anything, or simply want to ask about anything, we encourage you to ask in the comment section below respective articles. Let’s get to it and make you the best poker player around!
What is Cash Game
As the name suggest, Cash Game is the game for cash. We sit down to the table with poker chips representing the value. In theory, we might as well play with real coins or bank-notes, but poker chips make the process of play much more simple and clear. The chips are basically an equivalent of money, but are only usable at that certain casino you bought them at. If you then want to exchange the chips back to real money, there is no extra tax or any fees.
Online casinos do not really deal with any chips and they are only a graphic element in the game. As the online Cash Game is the most frequently player in US Dollars, we will be using this currency from this moment on.
How is Cash Game Different from Tournament Play
Cash Game (CG) enables players to sit in to any table with a free spot, be it live or online poker. We can also decide how much money we want to play with, as long as we meet the maximum and minimum limits for buy-in. The minimum limits are usually between 20 and 50 Big Blinds, and the maximum limits between 100 and 250 Big Blinds. If we play with more than 100 big blinds, we usually say that we are playing "deep".
If we lose our entire stack or just a chunk of it, we can reload it with more money up to the maximum limit and play with exactly we want to. If we win, we can play with more than the maximum limit, but we cannot add more chips on the table. If you see anyone with a lot of chips, it’s because they won them from other players.
We Can Sit Out Any Time During Cash Game
Not only can we sit in at any time, we can also sit out and leave for any reason with whatever cash you have on the table. We may not want to play with strong players and move to a juicier table, or just call it a day. This freedom is where Cash Game differs from the Tournament play. When we play any Tournament, we are seated and cannot move unless we are re-seated. If we lose all of the chips during a Tournament, we are eliminated from play and leave (there are exception to this, but this is how it usually goes).
Another big difference is that the Tournament chips and Cash Game chips are different. Whereas Cash Game chips represent their face-up value, the Tournament chips are only meant as a representation of how many Big Blinds you have for that one tournament. The tournament chips cannot be traded or exchanged and can only be won or lost. You can play a $1 tournament and start with 20,000 chips, or play a $1,000 tournament and start with 1,500 chips. Buy-ins for tournaments are fixed and cannot be altered (again, there are exceptions). The prize you win from a tournament depends of the place you end up in, and the prize cannot be withdrawed before you are eliminated from or win the tournament.
The third huge difference is the Blinds. Cash Game blinds remain the same for the whole duration of play. Tournament blinds are progressively bigger and bigger to force players cumulate chips and eliminate each other.
All in all, cash game is a much freer format, which enables players to play on whatever table they want with as much money they want and decide which blinds are comfortable and stick with it.
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Cashdown during Cash Game
There is one little Cash Game limitation we didn’t discuss. We can reload our stack up to the maximum amount, but if we win, we cannot withdraw just some part of the money on the table. Say we play a $2/$5 game with a maximum of $500 buy-in. We win a stack from another player and have $1,000. We cannot just take $500 off of the table and play with the rest. We can either play with $1,000, or leave the table. We also cannot leave and immediately sit back in.
However, land-based casinos enable players to do a Cashdown. This lets them withdraw some part of the stack from the table and play with just the rest of it. All of the players on the table must agree to this. If only one disagrees, standard house rules apply and Cashdown cannot be done. Online casinos do not enable this function and even at land-based casinos, Cashdown is a very rare occasion.
Types of Tables Based on the Maximum Number of Players
- Full Ring - The maximum number of players is 9, sometimes 10. More than 10 players is very unusual and there are barely any games running at online and land-based casinos. Full Ring is the most popular format for Multi-Table Tournaments (MTT), but Cash Game is usually player with fewer players sitting.
- Shorthanded or 6-max - There are fewer people at the table and the maximum is usually 6, rarely 5. In that case the game would be called 5-max. There are many tournaments in the 6-max format and it the the most widely played Cash Game format and this series will be focused on 6-max.
- Heads-up - Only 2 players are at the table. Head-up Cash Game is considered the most difficult format to master and in theory might be the most profitable, but players are usually not willing to play each other, so this format is a bit deadish at the moment.
The number of players at the table is essential for our strategy and how we should adjust to different situations. We will thoroughly discuss this in the future articles.
What’s NL25 a.k.a What Are the Blinds?
Cash Game is played with cash, and the stakes are based on what the big and small blinds are. If the blinds are just cents, the game will never be player for hundreds or even thousands dollars. If the blinds are in tens of pounds, the game is quite big and thousand-pound pots will be very frequent. The stakes are up to you to decide and usually the higher the stakes, the more difficult the game and better the opponents.
The most frequent way of stating the stakes are for example $1/$2. This means that the big blind is $2 and the small blind is $1. This is very convenient as we know the currency and the blinds.
Another way of naming stakes is for example NL100. NL stands for No Limit (Texas Hold’em) and the number is a 100 times the big blind, in this case $1. This way is usually used among online players on poker forums, whereas standard naming of blinds is used at poker casinos to name the currency.
We have discussed the Cash Game format, how is it different from other formats and some basic expressions. Next article will be more strategy-based and we’ll discuss the importance of position at the table and relative to other players. It is one of the most important strategy pieces, so don’t miss it.
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