We’d all love to start crushing cash games by rolling up to the Rio and stacking the best players, knowing that they’ll be putting our kids through college before they can say ‘straddle’. But the best way to become a cash game pro or turn a profit in the long term is to start at the bottom and climb. Beating low stake cash games should be simple. By definition, the money on offer determines that the best professionals can’t be in the game. But some games can still be tough. If you want to build a bankroll, you need to perfect your cash game strategy and become a flat-track winner. We can give you a leg up.
Beat Low Stakes Cash Games: Seize Control
One of the most important things you should do at a low stakes cash game is to take control. If the table feels strong, what that can often indicate is that most players at it are unwilling to commit their chips unless they have a very strong hand. This opens up a degree of control at the table and you’ll do well to seize it. The way you can identify players who act strong but don’t play the same way is by identifying their ability to make big bets when the pots are low in value but not when pots are large in value. If someone is willing to raise or call when there are cards to come and a low value pot as opposed to committing the rest of their stack on the river to a big bet, then you have an edge. Show some heart and learn to exploit it.
Beat Low Stakes Cash Games: Know Your Foe
Categorizing players at any table is important, but even more so if the table is a tough one. If you have already pegged players as loose-aggressive, tight-aggressive and tight-passive (let’s assume we’re not lucky enough to find any loose-passive types) then be prepared to re-appraise. Breaking players down into further groups can be highly beneficial to you at a cash table, particularly one of quality where you may need to put in a decent stint to reach your targeted profit. Does a player take full advantage of their position at the table? Which of the players you are taking on are more susceptible to emotion-based decisions? Truly get to know your opponents and their tendencies and you will win more pots from them on a consistent basis.
Beat Low Stakes Cash Games: Be Equity Aware
If you’re being aggressive, that’s all very well and will build your table image to that of captain – the best role to play in a cash game. Make sure, however, that you have equity in the pot if you’re making moves. A well-timed bluff can be the biggest weapon in poker, but think twice about making such moves at a tough cash game table unless you have some outs. Even a weak draw such as a gut-shot, double-gutter or combination draw can add enough equity to your move to make it viable post-flop. Knowing that you have different holdings to your opponent pre-flop can give you an advantage too. For example, if you enjoy playing suited one-gappers such as and the flop comes then it can still be a good flop to fire at if you put your opponent on over-cards when they made their standard pre-flop raise.
Beat Low Stakes Cash Games: Show and Tell
One of the first mistakes players make in cash games is not going to showdown enough. Look out for signs that some players will get off the pot more than others. One of these is how often players go to showdown (i.e. how often you get to see their cards turned over). With weaker players, this figure tends to be much lower, so monitor players carefully. Ideally, you want to be sure of a pattern, rather than acting on just a few hands, so make sure that you’d put the time into studying your opponents’ players before taking their habits as gospel you adhere to religiously.
Beat Low Stakes Cash Games: Don’t Be Afraid
Many players will be competent cash game players but afraid of risking too many of their chips. For one thing, they’re not in a no limit tournament, so there is an implied desire to hold onto their chips for longer right there. But there is a difference between playing afraid and being inexperienced. Make sure that you don’t play too tight on a low stakes game where people are often raising and re-raising pre-flop, making it difficult for you (or anyone) to see free cards. Analyze your opponent’s ranges as soon as you can and you’ll soon feel confident about re-raising with in middle position against an aggressive player, safe in the knowledge that you are often ahead of them pre-flop.
Beat Low Stakes Cash Games: Utilize Your Stack
Cash games can be more about measured profit than juicy pots at low stakes, you’re not going to win your WSOP Main Event entry for next year playing $1/$2 for an hour, are you? But how you utilize your chip-stack is vital to your success. One strong way of doing this is to stick around in pots where you have some equity (such as a straight or flush draw) and playing hard against players who typically raise pre-flop, fire at the flop then give up on the turn if one or more players called them. Players in cash games can often – rightly – do this with over-cards or a similar draw to your own. However, if you are playing back strongly against them, or taking over the betting lead on the turn or river, this can be extremely scary to fight against, especially with two overs. Don’t do this too often, otherwise you may end up looking like the crazy player at the table.
Beat Low Stakes Cash Games: Post-Game Passion
Playing in a challenging cash game can be good or bad for your bankroll, and this may depend on factors out of your control, such as variance, a key card in a big pot that was extremely marginal or your relative position to the stronger players once you have identified your opponents’ strengths and weaknesses. But one key part of playing poker that you are always in control of is the post-game analysis. Regularly assessing where you went wrong and what moves met with success at the poker table when you have the hindsight of looking back at your play is key to success. What was good about your session? Which point was your least favorite? Who was the least fun to play against in pots and why? These key points can help you shape your own game so that next time you sit down, you are the player others fear.
Good luck at the tables and let us know of your success after focusing on the ways in which you can improve your game.