5 Simple Cash Game Tips Most Amateurs Don't Know About

5 Simple Cash Game Tips for Beginners

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

Poker is a game that takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. Fortunately, the learning curve is not really steep, and it doesn’t take long to master the fundamental winning strategy. 

By following these five simple tips, you’ll be well under way to crush your buddies next poker night and start making money in no time. 

These tips cover the essence of the tried and true winning poker strategy for beginners, also known as the tight and aggressive (TAG) style. 

Let’s get right into it.

1. Play Less Hands

One of the most common mistakes beginner players make is playing too many hands. The key to winning poker is actually playing less hands, not more. 

This may seem totally counterintuitive to a lot of people. How can you win if you don’t play? Should I really fold 80% of the time? Isn’t folding weak? And where’s the fun in that anyway?

I’ll start by actually ceding the last point. It’s not fun. Playing poker is exciting. Winning poker is boring. 

And here’s the thing. I prefer making money than having fun. Actually, making money is what’s fun to me. I look for the excitement elsewhere. 

When you boil it down, poker actually comes down to basic math. And math isn’t thrilling to most people. 

It’s all about managing risk and reward, calculating odds and probabilities, and making educated guesses based on limited information. 

That’s the gist of it. 

A lot of people overestimate and romanticize poker with a dramatic flair, daring bluffs, soul reads and what have you. 

While certainly appealing, it’s kind of like watching a highlight reel instead of the whole game. The mundane aspect of the game is overlooked, and it consists mostly of folding. And lots of it.


Because of the aforementioned math. Statistically speaking, most hands miss most flops. And the more hands you play, more often you miss and consequently, more money you lose. 

It’s actually quite rare to make a really strong hand in no-limit hold’em, so you should only play hands that have a decent chance of actually flopping something good. 

This includes broadway hands, suited Aces, suited connectors and pocket pairs. The rest is trash, and should be thrown away.

In fact, if you want to start winning at poker immediately, only play these hands.  

2. Play in Position

Playing in position means acting last in every betting round, and is the cornerstone of the winning poker strategy for a number of reasons.

First of all, if you are the last to act, you have an informational advantage over your opponents. You get to see what they’ll do, and they have no idea what you will do. 

Poker is a game of incomplete information, so every additional piece of it helps big time.

Secondly, you can dictate the price of the pot. If your opponent checks to you, you can either check back to control the pot size and get a free card, or bet either to inflate the pot size or get your opponent to fold. 

If the opponent bets, you can fold, call or come over with a raise of your own. Playing in position therefore gives you more options than playing out of position.

This is something that I discuss in much more detail in my video training series.

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3. Play Aggressively

Winning poker is aggressive poker. Playing a select number of hands in position, and playing them aggressively (i.e. betting and raising big and often) is the cornerstone of the tried and true TAG strategy. 

The reason you should play aggressively is that you’re simply giving yourself more ways to win the pot.

You can either win by having the best hand at showdown (in that case you will want to take down as much money as possible), or without showdown by making your opponents fold. 

And since you only get really strong hands rarely, it’s not enough to rely on your hand strength alone to be a profitable long term winner.

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You also make yourself much more difficult to play against. Your opponents will have to think twice before getting involved with you and won’t be inclined to push you around.

You can also use this simple poker trick that Nathan discussed in a recent video, to win even more.

4. Don’t Bluff Too Much

When first starting out with playing poker, bluffing may seem like the most exciting aspect of the game. And it’s understandable. 

There’s nothing quite like the rush of pushing your opponent out of the pot holding absolute air. And if you want to get really good at poker fast, you need to learn how to bluff properly.

You’ve seen the pros do it, and you want to replicate it. However, bluffing too much when you’re first starting out is about one of the worst things you can do for your results.

To pull off a successful bluff, it’s not enough to have the nerves of steel. You have to take a ton of info into consideration, the previous action, your opponent’s tendencies, the board runout, just to name a few. 

And you have to make sure your bluff tells a believable story.

Bluffing involves high risk and high reward, but it’s only profitable if you are able to make informed decisions, instead of just bluffing out of the blue in the middle of the hand. 

Another reason you might refrain from bluffing too much is because if you are a beginning poker player, you are ideally going to play against opponents who are beginners themselves. 

A bluff is profitable only if your opponent is able to fold, and beginners don’t fold nearly as often they should. That’s what makes them beginners in the first place. 

So no matter how well-thought-out your bluff is, chances are it’s going to go right over their head anyway. 

What’s more, a lot of beginners can be very distrustful of their opponents, and think everybody is trying to bluff them all the time, so they call them down all the time. 

Don’t prove them right. Save your bluffs for opponents who actually know what they’re doing and are capable of folding. 

Also, keep expanding your knowledge and understanding of the game in order to recognize actual potentially profitable bluffing opportunities.

Any good proven winning poker strategy will also help you bluff better.

5. Play Within Your Bankroll

The best poker strategy in the world and playing your absolute best all the time isn’t going to count for much if you end up broke. 

Poker is a skill game, and the most skilled players end up on the top over the long run.

There is, however, a short-term luck element involved. This is why poker is so popular, even among players who don’t really know what they’re doing. 

Everyone can win sometimes. The flip side is that everyone can also lose, and they do. 

There’s simply no way around it. Sometimes you will do everything right, but the poker gods won’t be on your side, and you will lose money. 

This is very hard for some people to come to terms with, and it’s no wonder. Nobody likes losing money. Especially if they didn’t really do anything wrong. 

But that’s just the reality of poker. Not everybody can make $100,000 a year from poker.

And in order to not be negatively affected by it no more than necessary, you should only play with money you’re comfortable with losing. 

You also need to have a certain amount of money dedicated to poker only. 

This money is your bankroll. By having a sufficient amount of buyins in your bankroll, you’ll be able to ride out the short-term fluctuations in your results.

This fluctuation between the amount of money you’re expected to win and the amount you actually win or lose is called variance. 

If you bet on a coinflip ten times, you are expected to win five times on average. If you won six times, you experienced positive variance. If you win only four times, that would be negative variance. 

Day to day and month to month your results will be all over the place due to variance, no matter how well you’re playing. 

That’s why it’s recommended to have a bankroll of 30 buyins for the stakes you’re playing at the bare minimum. More is always better, of course. 

If you’re playing NL2 online, for example (and this is where you should start as a beginner, anyway) you should have no less than 60 dollars in your bankroll.

You might say, well, what’s the difference, I can always reload. That’s true, but the point is trying to become a winning poker player. Winners take the money out of the site, not the other way around. 

Besides, the adverse psychological effect of constantly losing and depositing money isn’t going to help your game any. So it’s better to get it right the first time.

5 Simple Cash Game Tips for Beginners (Summary)

By following these tips, you’ll transition from a beginner to a solid winner in no time.

You can go ahead and study more advanced poker strategy to improve your cash game skills, but this isn't totally necessary for beginners. 

All you have to do is follow the simple TAG strategy, which means being very selective with your hand selection preflop, playing most of the hands in position, and playing them aggressively postflop. 

You shouldn’t really bluff too often, however enticing it might seem. Finally, practice proper bankroll management to avoid going broke. 

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to make $1000+ per month in small stakes games, get a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

5 Simple Cash Game Tips for Beginners