Transitioning back into Live Cash
Now that the World Series of Poker is over, most of us are back home grinding our local casino or home games. These games are unlike the tight, shallow stacked tournaments we play over the summer. The play is loose, the stacks are deep, and the blinds are small. As a Las Vegas resident, I grind cash games often, and I see many mistakes made by pros and recreational players alike in the games, and most of them are easy to fix. Here are a few tips to help you make that transition back into cash games from the tournament grind.
Blinds are Small, Stacks are Deep
One crucial difference between live cash games and tournaments are the size of the blinds relative to stacks. In a 5/10 game in Las Vegas, for example, most players are buying in for $2000-$5000, but the BB is only $10. This means playing an orbit costs next to nothing, and even sitting down for hours will only cost you a couple hundreds bucks, even if you fold every hand. I know, I know, this is obvious, but if you sit down in a 5/10 game you will quickly notice players playing like their life depends on winning every other hand. It’s easy to fall in with the loose play of these games, but with a lot of money thrown around every hand on a regular basis, if you are patient enough to wait for a good spot or a big hand, you are almost guaranteed to have a solid win-rate.
Another difference between tournaments and cash games is that many hands will go 4, 5 or even 6 ways to the flop while in tournaments most flops go heads up or 3 way. Preflop hand strength is completely different in 4 way-plus pots, and many players don’t grasp this concept. For example, low suited connectors like 46s do well in 3 way pots, where you will get paid off nicely when you hit a hidden two pair or a flush. But in a 5-way pot, when you hit a flush, it’s frequently dominated if big money is going in. Two pair will also rarely get a lot of value, and hitting trips with unpaired holding is a long shot. It may seem counterintuitive, but if you aren’t in position or getting great pot odds–which is rare in cash with raise sizes being 5x the big blind or higher–I’d avoid playing low suited (one and two gap) connectors in big multiway pots. These are hands that are much better for squeezing OOP, where you a) have fold equity to take down quite a few chips pre and b) will likely get isolation or a 3 way pot against players playing not-so-strong holdings.
Big Pots = More Fold Equity
It’s very simple, but also very true: If you want fold equity in a live cash game, build a bigger pot. When you can put more chips on the table whenever you like, it makes throwing away a few hundred dollars hurt a lot less. So, if you suspect your opponents are playing loose preflop or on the flop, make a big bet or raise early so you can get them to fold easier later in the hand when the pot gets big. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a spot where you are certain your opponent is weak, but cannot get him to fold without overbetting because the pot is too small.
Some players like to play tournaments exclusively or cash games exclusively, because the play is so much different in each of them. Transitioning between two different styles of poker is tough, but if you follow my guidelines above, you may find that the transition is easier than you think. Good luck.