Is there anything better than online cash games? You can play a massive amount of hands. You can play at any hour day or night. It’s like an eternal arcade game for money. What’s not to love? However, if you make these three key mistakes you won’t have fun playing online cash games. Let’s discuss them so you can have more fun on the virtual felt.
Online Cash Game Mistake #1: Calling Down Without A Plan
It’s tempting to call down without a plan. We know we’re supposed to defend the big blind versus small raises. The problem we face is we’re defending with such a wide range. We mostly miss the flop and hit weak pairs. Our opponents know this, so they shell us with huge bets. We end up not knowing what to do. We call down hopelessly and get value bet to death.
The simple solution to this situation is to play less hands out of position. Playing less hands out of position works fine in the short term, but as we get better we need to learn how to defend ourselves out of position. One rule of thumb we can use is “most people can’t triple barrel bluff.” Almost everybody can continuation bet bluff on the flop. Some people can bet the turn as a bluff. Not many people can fire the river as an absolute bluff in online cash games.
When we’re playing an unknown player we should give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if we’re playing lower stakes. If we’re a little too tight on later streets to start the session that’s fine. Once we identify a player as a maniac, we can change our strategies. We can pick any halfway decent top pair and call down. However, until a player proves themselves to be capable of advanced play, we are not going to give them credit. We’ll play our big pots in position until further notice.
Online Cash Game Mistake #2: Playing Too Many Hands From Early Position
Playing too many hands from early position is a great way to lose a ton of money in online cash games. Some players like to limp their small pairs and suited-gappers from early position, but this is generally a losing play. It is better to raise or fold these hands.
When you’re starting to play online cash games, you should strive to play tighter from early position. When you open with so many players to act behind you it is likely someone will pick up a solid hand. If they three-bet you then they have put you in a disadvantageous position. If you call out of position, you’re only trying to save the big blinds you already put in the pot. It will be massively difficult to make a profit from out of position.
The best way to neutralize your opponents’ positional advantage is to catch them with solid hands. If you open AQ+ or 88+, for example, and they three-bet you then you will still be able to make money. These hands flop well and allow you to win more pots. If no one is three-betting at your table, then you can open up your game. However, if people at your table are constantly re-raising you, then find another table or tighten up your ranges.
Online Cash Game Mistake #3: Not Value Betting Enough
Let’s say you do get a preflop raise through and the big blind calls you. The moment you’ve been waiting for! Now someone has called you out of position with a wide range. They’re going to be guessing on most flops. If they check to you in position, which they are likely to do 90%+ of the time, then you can take a free card whenever you want one or start betting when you like the flop. This is a huge edge.
If you do flop a top pair or even a solid second pair, you need to start thinking about value betting versus the big blind flatter. The big blind flatter has called you out of position with a wide range. They have hit the flop poorly almost always. They have high cards and mediocre pairs the vast majority of the time. The last thing this player wants to see is you betting. Disappoint them. Introduce them to several bets. Try to go for three streets at every opportunity. You’re not value betting enough until you accidentally value bet the second best hand.
The entire point of poker is to capture the other player’s chips. The biggest bets in no-limit hold’em are river bets. You can’t win a river bet from another player with a bluff, you will need to value bet them.
Online cash games are great fun, and if you use these three tips, they will be even more enjoyable. Just remember to play your big pots in position and value bet thinly versus wide big blind calling ranges. Don’t get out of line when you’re out of position or likely to be out of position. If you’re forced to play out of position, have a clear plan of attack before you start calling huge bets on later streets. Follow all these online cash game tips and you will win more playing online cash games.