A poker cash games require different skills than tournaments. In this guide you will find and learn some of the required skills for on and offline cash games.
Stack sizes. Building a tight table image If you want to pull off a good bluff, the other player will need to believe what you are trying to represent. Obviously, if you bet pot on every flop, at some point they will play back at you with middle or even bottom pair. In order to be successful at the cash tables you will first need to build up a certain image and then make use of that image. The best thing to do is just play tight for a certain number of hands before you start trying to bluff.
Once you have shown down a couple of strong hands, the players at the table will notice you usually have the goods when the money goes in and the next time you put in a bet they are likely to believe you have it. So play ABC poker for 50 or maybe 100 hands and make sure to showdown quality hands, maybe even show your cards when you have the nuts and your opponent folded to a bet. You are not letting them know how you play, on the contrary, you are setting them up for some good bluffs later. Your table image is much more important in a cash game than in a tournament, because tournament structure forces people to change their strategy along the way and become more aggressive as the blinds go up. Thus, even if you have been playing tight in the beginning of a tournament, people will often still think you are stealing blinds and continuation betting on the flop. In a cash game, the blinds are constant, so generally play is more constant as well. Abusing you r table image As the cash game session progresses, you will notice people starting to avoid your bets unless they have a strong hand. Now you can start to abuse your table image !
The key to good bluffing is using scare cards that come on the turn or river. If you call a bet with a straight draw, but a third diamond comes on the turn, now would be a good time to try and bluff at the pot as your opponent is now very likely to think you have made your flush. Of course you will have to be careful not to give anything away by for example changing your bet sizing, or even taking a different time to think about your move. Just repeat what you were doing when you had the nuts, and your opponents are very likely to believe you.
Don’t get overconfident though, since you have been playing tight, your opponents are probably also playing quality hands against you. So if they play back at you, it’s probably a good time to let the hand go.
Example hands: You have been playing at the same $1/$2 cash table for 2 hours and have been showing down premium hands and betting them aggressively. You have won and lost some hands and your stack has increased from $200 to $250. The table is 6 handed and all the stacks are between $200 and $300 when the following hand occurs: You are on the button with Jd10d and it’s folded to you. Your hand is good enough for a raise here, so you make it $6 to go. The small blind folds and the big blind defends. The flop misses you completely when it comes 2h6dQs and the big blind checks. You put in a standard continuation bet of $8, just more than half the pot. The big blind calls your bet and the turn card is a beautiful As. The big blind checks again and you see a perfect opportunity for a bluff here. First of all, your opponent has shows weakness on all streets so it’s unlikely he has a strong hand. Also, you do have a gut shot straight draw whi ch is a good spot to bluff. If you get raised it’s an easy fold, if your opponent calls you still have 4 outs to make a straight. Most likely however, your opponent is either going to give you credit for an ace here, or at least give you credit for a strong hand since the ace didn’t scare you. So, you decide to bet out $20 and your opponent folds indeed.
Now that we have covered the basics of playing at the cash tables.