The Tournament Player’s Guide To Cash Games

The Tournament Player’s Guide To Cash Games

If you’re currently playing MTT’s (Multi-Table Tournaments) or Sit n Go’s (SNGs) and are looking to make the switch to cash games, here’s everything you need to know.

Cash Game 101

Before you make the jump to a new format of poker, ask yourself this: why? Why do you want to play cash games? Is it because you feel it plays to your edge and it’ll be more profitable? Or is it because all the best players are cash game masters? If your reasons are pure and you think it plays to your strengths, then those are good reasons, but if you’re switching because all the cool kids are doing it, that’s not good enough. If you plan to tackle cash games, your best bet is to play them exclusively until your decision-making and processing become automatic – then you can mix in MTTs or SNGs. But, if your purpose is to increase your cash flow, no matter the format you want to hammer out the volume, perfect your game and move up the limits.

Adjustments For Transitioning From SNG To Cash Games

Main Goal For Sit n Go’s: Protect Your Stack, Moving Up The Ladder

SNGs rely on conservative gameplay where the emphasis is on protecting your stack and making it into the money. The idea is to avoid confrontation and excel preflop so you can make it to the finals.

Main Goal For Multi-Table Tournaments: Win The Tournament, Acquire All The Chips

With MTTs your goal is to make it to the top 3, which promotes risk-taking, whereas SNGs are risk-averse. MTTs encourage gambling because there is no fear of getting knocked out of a tournament as you’re chasing a win 100x your investment as compared to 3-10x in SNGs. For this reason, it’s not easy to switch seamlessly between SNGs and MTTs because they’re styles of play conflict- tight vs. loose.

Main Goal For Cash Games: Getting As Much Value As Possible From Every Hand/Bluff

Cash games are an entirely different beast that focus on playing individual hands in isolation to maximize the expected value. You want to net as much cash off your opponents by making clear-cut exacting decisions that drive them to fold. As such, you want to be confident with your postflop play. Cash games have less external variables than with other formats for easier decision making, however, you need a deepstack to play and with that comes more variables. There is no fear of elimination if you bust, all you have to do is reload and game on.

Jonathan Little

Get your free Cash Game Cheat Sheet From 2-Time World Poker Tour Champion Jonathan Little

Making The Transition To Cash Games: Be More Willing To Make Speculative Calls Preflop

When you make a preflop call with a deeper stack, you’re not committing a significant percentage of your chips like in SNGs, thus allowing you to make speculative calls. The more hands you play preflop, the more postflop situations you’re in. You don’t need to play a tight range of hands because you’ll make up a lot of value postflop with implied odds as you’ll have 30x the preflop raise behind you – enough to move opponents off their hands.

Forget About Being “Pot Committed”, You Can Invest A Lot Then Fold

Don’t be pot committed. In SNGs, when you bet half your stack you end up calling because having so little left if you lose is useless. In cash games, you can invest any amount and fold whenever because you can always reload. Don’t get tricked into thinking you have to call just because the pot is so big, if the odds aren’t in your favor it’s better to fold.

Don’t Be Afraid Of Getting Stacked

There is no pressure if you get stacked, just reload. It’s easier to gamble with a strong draw because the penalty of losing is smaller than in tournaments. So if you find a good spot, go for it.

Get Comfortable With Floating, Multi-Barrel Bluffing

Get out and learn advanced techniques for deep-stacked poker, like multi-street structure, as this will give you an edge.

Expect More Fluctuations In Your Stack Than In SNGs

Since you’re going to see more flops, you can make more speculative calls, float more often, use semi-bluffs and play more aggressively. This will lead to fluctuations in your stack, but these variances don’t matter, so long as you’re making good decisions your stack will grow. Cash games are about little gains that eventually grow into sizeable bankrolls.

How To Play In Cash Games

Having a background in any format will help you learn another. It’s easy to learn different formats; just read a book or watch videos on pros playing live. The kicker is knowing your why: why do you want to switch? If it’ll improve your game and put you into some serious money, then it’s a wise choice, but if it’s because everyone’s playing them, that’s not good enough. It takes time to master new things, so transition for the right reasons.

Scroll to Top