5 Advanced Cash Game Tips (Tripled My Profits!)

5 Killer Cash Game Tips Most Amateurs Don't Know
This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

Poker cash games are arguably the format to play if you want to make money consistently.

You can buy in for any amount you want, sit down to play and leave any time,  and the blinds structure is always the same. 

You can also find games any time you want, especially if you’re playing online poker.

Cash games are the most convenient way to make money while doing something you enjoy, but only if you employ the right strategy.

This article will show you 5 poker cash game tips most amateurs don’t know about. 

By following these tips, you’re guaranteed to see an improvement in your results, and you’ll be able to climb up the stakes in no time.

1. Always Buy in For a Full Amount in Poker Cash Games

When sitting down at a cash game poker table, you have the option to choose your buyin amount, i.e. any range between the minimum and the maximum allowed.

You should always buy in for a maximum amount when sitting down at the cash game table.

There’s a couple of reasons for this, but the main reason is this: in poker, you can only win as much as you put into the pot.

For example, if the maximum buyin is $10 and you double up, you’ll win $10 (minus the rake). But if you only buy in for $4 and you double up, you’ll only win $4.

The opposite is also true, of course. While you can win more, you can also theoretically lose more as well, and this is the main reason why some players intentionally buy in for less money.

But this is a major mistake in a large majority of cases. 

Sure, there are some viable short stack strategies where you buy in for say, only 40 big blinds instead of the standard 100 big blinds, but either way you cut it, you’re placing a lower ceiling on your profit potential by lowering your buyin amount.

Still, some players may not feel comfortable with buying in for a full amount for the fear of potentially losing it all.

But if that’s the case, chances are that you’re playing in a game beyond your limit, either skill-wise or bankroll-wise.

In poker, scared money never wins.

If you’re not completely comfortable with the prospect of losing your whole buyin amount (or a few of them, for that matter), you should either:

a) drop down in stakes

b) reassess your bankroll management strategy


c) solve your underlying issue of the fear of losing money.

When playing poker, losing some money is inevitable. 

That’s why it’s crucial to only play with money you’re completely comfortable with losing, without it negatively affecting your day-to-day life.

Another reason why you shouldn’t buy in for less than the maximum amount ties in with the ones outlined above, and that’s the fact that you’re displaying to the whole table that you aren’t confident enough in your playing abilities.

This alone can make you the target before you even start playing.

The fact is, strong competent poker players want to have as many chips available at their disposal, because they are confident in their playing abilities, and want to earn as much money as possible.

When playing poker, it’s best to view chips as munition. 

If you were involved in a gunfight, you’d want to have as much ammo as possible.

If you bring less ammo on purpose just so you decrease the risk of shooting yourself in the foot, maybe you shouldn’t get involved in gunfights in the first place.

Having more chips allows you to exert control and  put pressure on your opponents. 

The more chips you have, the more manoeuvrability you have in any given situation. This is especially important in deepstacked poker, where you can allow your skill edge to fully manifest.

This is discussed in more detail in my free poker cheat sheet.

With shorter effective stack sizes, on the other hand, skill plays a smaller role in determining the winner of any given hand, because there’s only so much you can do with a short stack size.

For example, you can’t pull off a huge multi-street triple barrel bluff with short stack sizes, because all of the money will go into the pot way before the river.

A triple barrel is a continuation bet on the river, so you’re making a bet on the flop, turn and river, respectively.

Check out my article on other insanely useful advanced poker strategies.

If you’re still apprehensive about buying in for a full amount, drop down in stakes until you get comfortable with a full stack (or even a deep stack) poker, because it will be much easier for you to learn and develop your poker skills.

You can also check out Nathan’s videos on how to beat Texas hold’em games, like this one.

2. Have a Big Bankroll for Poker Cash Games

Making a consistent profit playing poker cash games is not easy, but it’s not overly difficult, either. 

All you have to do is follow the proven winning poker strategy, and stay the course despite the negative short term results.

And you WILL experience prolonged losing periods, even if you’re playing perfectly. 

Losing despite seemingly doing everything right is hard to come to terms with, but it’s an integral part of poker.

In most other skill games, a superior player will win a large majority of the time, save for the inferior player getting extremely lucky in some way. 

In poker, a superior player will win more often than not, but will still lose far more often due to the short term luck element.

This can be frustrating, of course, but it’s worth remembering that weaker players occasionally getting lucky against you is actually a good thing. 

Over the long run, these players will be far more profitable to play against than the players that actually know what they’re doing.

This means that you’ll often just have to suck it up and keep trying to play your best, because that’s the only thing you can actually control in this game.

But in order to withstand these losing periods, it’s crucial to be properly bankrolled for the stakes you’re playing. 

This means having enough buyins to ride out the negative short term results without going broke.

As mentioned, you should view chips at the table as munition, and if you run out of bullets, it’s game over.

It’s advised to have at least 30 buyins in your bankroll for the stakes you’re playing. 

So if you’re playing NL5 online, for example, you should have no less than $150 in your account.

If you’re playing live cash games, you can probably get away with a smaller bankroll of 20 buyins or so.

That’s because online poker plays significantly faster than live poker, and you have the ability to multitable. 

As a result, you can expect more variance, meaning your results will be more volatile when playing online.

Check out my recent article on how to crush $2/$5 cash games at your local casino for more info on live poker strategy.

Now, you may argue that there’s no need for a bankroll, since you can always reload if you run out of money.

That’s technically true, but remember, the goal is to become a winning poker player, meaning you want to leave with more money than you came in with. 

If you constantly have to reload every time you run out of funds, you will never make consistent profits in this game, no matter how well you’re playing.

If you start with the proper bankroll the first time, it will be the last time you have to fund your account, period.

It’s worth noting, however, that the biggest bankroll in the world can’t help you if you’re not a winning poker player in the first place. It will just take you more time to go broke.

Having a big bankroll isn’t all it takes to succeed in this game, but not having one is a sure way to fail.

If you’re not a winning poker player yet, don’t worry, because a large majority of players lose money over the long run. 

The ones that don’t are the ones that put effort into improving their game.

By the very fact of reading this article and trying to improve, you’re already well ahead of the curve.

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3. Don’t Chase Losses in Poker Cash Games

One of the key differences between poker cash games and other formats, like multitable tournaments, for example, is relatively deeper stack sizes.

The standard buyin amount for most cash game tables is 100 big blinds, which is a lot deeper than most multitable tournaments. And often enough the stack sizes are even deeper than 100 big blinds.

When the effective stack size is bigger than 100 big blinds, you are playing deep stacked poker. When talking about deep stacked cash games, we’re usually talking about 150 big blinds or more.

Different stack sizes affect your overall strategy significantly. 

The deeper the stack sizes, the more complex the game becomes, as there’s way more room to manoeuvre and outplay your opponents post flop.

As a consequence, each decision gets more important, and every mistake potentially becomes more costly.

But with the added risk also comes the bigger potential upside. That’s why it’s important to get comfortable with playing deep stacked poker as soon as possible.

Some players tend to leave the tables once they double up, for example. While there’s nothing wrong with locking in a profit, it can be a mistake if you’re already sitting at the profitable table.

5 Advanced Cash Game Tips

If you’ve doubled up, chances are you’re playing in a profitable game.

Also, when you’re winning, you’re more likely to continue winning, because you’re probably feeling good and playing well. 

As the great Dusty Schmidt said: “If the games are good, I’ll tape my eyelids open if it keeps me at the tables."

This is one of the tricks the pros use to make consistent profits at the poker tables, and it’s the exact opposite of what most amateurs do.

When running well, a lot of players want to “book a win” and quit while they’re ahead. In other words, they don’t want to lose the money they’ve made. 

Conversely, when they’re down a couple of buyins, they continue playing to “get even” and get their money back.

Both of these behaviours are the exact opposite of what winning poker is all about. 

They both stem from the same problem: the fear of loss. 

When you’re up, you don’t want to lose what you’ve earned, and when you’re down, you want to get it back.

This is understandable, of course. Humans are a loss-averse species, meaning that the fear of loss is bigger than the desire to get more while risking what we already have. 

But this fear of loss is what paradoxically causes players to actually incur more losses over the long run.

When you’re running well, you’re more likely to continue to play well and make sound logical decisions. 

Conversely, when you’re running terribly, you’re more likely to tilt and make mistakes, which can cause further losses, more tilt, more mistakes and so on.

This is obviously also true for your opponents, which is yet another reason to keep playing when running well. 

Your opponents are more likely to tilt and make mistakes when they’re losing, which makes it even more profitable to keep playing against them.

Of course, they may still get lucky against you from time to time, which is why the previous point of having a healthy bankroll is so crucial. 

You need to have a big enough bankroll to withstand the short-term negative variance without being negatively affected by it.

The other side of the coin is knowing when to quit, and when to keep playing despite running badly. 

Playing only when you’re running well obviously doesn’t work, because you can’t know in advance how your session is going to go. 

Quitting the first time you lose a coinflip or your opponent hits their lucky draw obviously doesn’t work. 

You will in fact, need to make peace with running badly from time to time. 

As long as you’re able to make sound, quality decisions, losing is only temporary.

This is a good rule of thumb to figure out whether or not to keep playing. You have to ask yourself: Can I still play to the best of my abilities? 

If the answer is no, then it’s best to just take a break, instead of risking a full-blown meltdown down the line.

This obviously takes a bit of honest self reflection. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break when you’re down. 

It doesn’t mean you lost. It means you know how to pick your battles and cut your losses when necessary, which is a victory in and of itself.

Of course, quitting any time things start to look rough isn’t a great solution, either, because you won’t be able to put in enough volume if you give up every time you suffer a bad beat. 

And you’re going to have to suffer through them, period. There’s no way around them except quitting the game altogether.

So the best you can do is try to make peace with running badly occasionally, and working on your mental game as well as your technical game, because one is useless without the other.

Check out my article on how to deal with variance for more info on the topic.

If you want to know how to manage your poker career like a pro, in addition to learning the advanced poker strategy, check out the Microstakes Playbook.

4. Master the Light C-bet to Crush Poker Cash Games

When you are the preflop aggressor, you are the one that’s perceived to have the strongest hand. This means you can continue with the aggression post flop with a continuation bet (or a c-bet for short).

A c-bet is simply a bet made by the previous street’s aggressor. 

When you fire a second and third bet on the turn and river, this is called a double barrel and a triple barrel, respectively.

A c-bet on the flop is the standard play in most situations, so you should fire a c-bet on most flops, unless there’s a good reason not to do so.

When you make a flop c-bet with a strong hand hoping to get called by your opponent’s weaker hands, you are betting for value.

But if you don’t connect with the flop and fire a c-bet hoping to get your opponent to fold, you’re c-betting as a bluff. This is also called a light c-bet.

Mastering the light c-bet is crucial for your success in cash games. That’s because in no-limit hold’em, most hands miss most flops (2 out of 3 times, to be precise).

This means that 2 out 3 times, you won’t have the opportunity to c-bet the flop for value. 

However, being the preflop aggressor, you still want to lead out with a bet more often than not.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first one is the fact that your opponent is just as likely to miss the flop as you are. 

So even if you miss the flop completely, there’s a good chance your opponent missed it as well.

And since you’re the one that’s perceived to have a stronger hand, they’ll often have no choice but to fold to your c-bet.

This is especially true when you’re up against the fit-or fold type of players.

A fit-or-fold player tends to play fairly straightforwardly post flop. They will continue playing the hand only if they connected with the flop in some way. 

If they don't, they’ll just give up right away. 

And since most hands miss most flops, they’ll fold to a simple c-bet most of the time.

Against this type of players, it’s correct to c-bet with a very high frequency, regardless of your hand strength, or lack thereof. 

You can also decrease your bet size to give yourself a better risk-to reward ratio.

This is just one easy way to beat good poker players.

Without getting deep into the math, basically, the smaller your c-bet size, the less often your opponent needs to fold for your light c-bet to be profitable.

For example, if you c-bet 1/3 of the pot, your opponent needs to fold only 25% of the time for your light c-bet to be breakeven. 

If you bet 1/2 of the pot, your opponent needs to fold 33% of the time.

Check out my article about poker pot odds for more info on this topic.

Another reason to master the light c-bet is to balance your range.

A balanced range is the one with the optimal ratio of both bluffs and value hands.

If you only c-bet with strong value hands, your range will become very unbalanced, meaning your opponents could exploit you and play perfectly against you.

If your opponents figure out you’re only c-betting for value, they will just fold every time you c-bet, and only give you action with strong hands that have you beat. 

When you don’t make a c-bet, they can try to take the pot away by making a bet of their own.

If you make an occasional light c-bet, on the other hand, your opponents will have a hard time putting you on your exact hand. 

You’ll always keep them guessing, and once you actually do get a monster hand, you’ll be way more likely to actually extract value from it.

You’ll also win more pots even without a particularly strong hand.

Important caveat: you should only balance your ranges against players that are actually paying attention.

When you’re playing cash games, chances are you’re going to encounter a few familiar faces from time to time.

In order to keep them guessing, it’s important to mix up your playstyle from time to time to keep them guessing.

But if you’re up against a bunch of recreational players, you don’t need to fret too much about balance. 

Recreational players usually don’t pay too much attention to their opponent’s ranges, betting patterns, and so on. They’re only concerned with their two hole cards, and little else.

Against them, forget all about balance and go full exploit mode, especially if they tend to call a lot (which most fish tend to do). 

Don’t try to bluff them too much (or even at all), because they will more than likely just call you down.

Save your bluffs for opponents who are paying attention and are actually capable of folding.

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5. Always Have a Fish on Your Right in Poker Cash Games

In poker, most of the money you’ll earn won’t come from your genius plays, daring bluffs or sick hero calls. Rather, it will come from the mistakes of your opponents.

The lesson is simple: play against opponents that make a lot of mistakes, aka the fish.

Poker fish are players who play primarily for fun, and put very little to no effort into improving their game. 

They will make all sorts of fundamental mistakes like playing too many hands, chasing bad draws and so on.

While they can be frustrating to play against, they will be your most profitable opponents by far.

Ideally, you always want to have at least one such player at your table, and the more of them, the better.

You also want to be positioned in a way that you can take advantage of their mistakes before other players.

This means you always want to grab the seat that’s on their direct left.

This way, you will play in position against them most of the time.

Playing in position means being the last player to act in a betting round, and it gives you a huge advantage against your opponents.

The power of position is even greater when your opponent is likely to make all sorts of fundamental mistakes you can take advantage of.

For example, if a fish limps into the pot (i.e. just pays the big blind instead of open-raising), you can make an isolation-raise against them.

An isolation raise is an open-raise after another player or players have limped into the pot.

By iso-raising, you will often play a heads-up pot in position against the fish, so you’ll be able to take advantage of their postflop mistakes.

If you have a strong hand, you can bet for value and build up the pot effectively. If you have a weak hand, you can practice pot control, get a free card, and/or see a cheap showdown.

If your opponent plays fit-or-fold, you can also bluff them out of the hand when they check to you.

Another advantage of having a fish to your left is the fact that they usually won’t steal your blinds too often.

Instead, they’ll often limp into the pot from late positions (i.e. the cutoff and the button) which will allow you to see cheap flops and realize your hand equity with weak or mediocre hands.

For more advanced poker strategies to improve your cash games results, check out Modern Small Stakes.

5 Advanced Cash Game Tips - Summary

To sum up, here are 5 essential tips you need to know to crush poker cash games:

1. Always buy in for a full amount. 

If you think of your poker skills as weapons, then your poker chips are your munition. 

Skilled poker players want to have as many chips in front of them as possible, so their skill edge can truly manifest, and so they can win as much as possible.

2. Have a healthy bankroll.

Even if you’re the most skilled player at your table, you will experience losing periods due to standard variance. 

In order to avoid going broke as a result, you should have a proper bankroll for the limits you’re playing. You should have at least 30 (full!) buyins for your stakes, and more is obviously better.

3. Don’t chase losses.

If you’re down money in your session, avoid the compulsion to keep playing to “get even.” 

Chasing losses is one of the best ways to incur even more losses. Instead, keep playing when the games are good and you’re playing well. 

Of course, quitting anytime you lose is not a great long-term solution, so sometimes you’ll just have to suck it up and keep playing. 

But if you can’t keep playing your best, take a break and live to fight another day.

4. Master the light c-bet.

You won’t always have the luxury of having the best hand post flop, so sometimes you’ll need to fight for pots even without a strong hand. 

One of the best ways to pick up easy money post flop, even without a strong hand, is to c-bet the flop with a high frequency.

This way, you’ll always keep your opponent guessing at your hand strength, and you’ll be more likely to get paid off once you do get a monster hand.

5. Always have a poker fish on your right.

If you want to make money in poker, you need to play against weaker players than you, period. Always have at least one recreational player at your table, preferably on your right.

This way, you'll be able to play in position against them most of the time, and take advantage of their mistakes before other players.

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 Advanced Cash Game Tips