Poker cash games have become very popular lately. Poker tournaments are a much better known form of poker because of television. The problem with a poker tournament is that you can be eliminated very easy early on in the tournament. In poker cash games you have the ability to rebuy and play hands against the same opponents beyond losing the first time. Cash games have many advantages as long as you know how to play them correctly. Having a strong poker cash game strategy is very important to winning money.


Top Five Online Cash Game Tips

1.Playing Tight- It is very important right now that you play in a tight aggressive manor. With poker being all over the television only showing the big hands and big bluffs, there are a ton of players that think each hand they play is a coin toss over getting it all in or not regardless of hand strength. Since these players are playing such a variety of hands you know that they are playing weak hands for the most part. If you play tight and are aggressive then you can take advantage of the weak player because you know that your hand is more than likely better than theirs.

There is poker software that you can use to see the stats of other players while you play. The players that you want to play against are the players who aren’t raising a lot. You want to play against the players who are just calling and limping in. This is a good way to spot a fish. If you see someone is playing a boat load of hands then you can be sure that they will be a target during your time playing. This is pretty much a poker cash game rule if you are a serious player. Try to play against only weak players. It will be much easier for you to make the correct play.

Another great thing about playing tight is that other good tight players won’t be trying to make plays at you as often because they too recognize that you are playing only a very few hands which normally means you are only playing strong hands. This prevents having someone reraise you every time you bet forcing you to lose money on continuation bets.


2.Be Aware of Your Position- When you are playing in early position you want to play a smaller amount of hands than you do in later position. This is because you never really want to play strong hands like AJ or KQ against multiple players. You raise with your hand preflop hoping to build a bigger pot in which you will have the best hand and to also eliminate all of the garbage hands like suited and connected hands that would otherwise call.

You are raising with a smaller amount of hands in early position because there are so many people behind you to act. Any poker books written you could read will stress the same facts about position. If there are still five other players to act behind you it would be a horrible time to make a bluff with any hand that isn’t very strong. While in later position you are raising with more hands because there are less people to act. Opening up in later position also helps to make up for how ridiculously tight you play in early position.

Being in position against someone, or acting after they do is very important. This helps you see what they do before you have to choose your action. If you see your opponent checks on a board of A92 then you can feel comfortable betting at the pot whether you have an ace or not. If you are out of position then they can react to what you do accordingly because they can see what you are doing first. Position is very important in poker.


3.Bet According to Pot Size- It is important that when you bet you are betting an amount that is appropriate to the pot you could potentially win. You might be able to bet $50 at a pot that has $2 in it and take it down most of the time, but when you are called and lose you need to win a lot more using that play to make it profitable. Bet one third to three quarter pot when you bet. This changes for each exact situation, but that is the general amount you should bet. So if there is a $100 pot in pot limit Omaha, you should be betting around $65-$75 at it.

When you are playing poker there are always a lot of mathematical situations that come up in which a player has to calculate if it is mathematically correct for them to make a call in the long run or not. If a draw is only going to hit one in every three times then you have to be getting better odds than that on your money or you will lose money in the long run.

Just like when someone doesn’t give you proper odds to call with a draw, you want to make your opponent call a bet that they will lose money in the long run against. As long as you give them odds that are worse than the odds their draw will hit, you will win money in the long run against that draw.

Since being aggressive is one of the best ways to make money in poker, you can be aggressive with your draws as well. With this though you want to make sure that you are giving yourself the correct odds to hit your draw and not lose money. When you do hit you win a big pot with a big hand. This is extra effective because you then give your draw some fold equity by betting with it. While your opponent could hold the best hand with second pair, betting might get them to fold for fear that you have top pair like your style of play is more accredited to having.


4.Play Against Weaker Players- Picking a table that is right for you is one of the most important things to do while playing poker. You have to be honest with yourself about your skill and then find a table with players that are not as good as you to play at. Tight aggressive players want to play against loose passive players and loose aggressive players want to play against tight passive players. This is one of the best poker cash game strategies to follow. Play against someone who is weak with the opposite style of play as your own.

It only makes sense with the theory of poker to play against players who are lower than your skill level. The goal is to win money when you play poker, so playing against players who are better than you will make those players win your money. If you play at a table full of weak players you have more opportunities to benefit from having a higher skill level than them and therefore win money from all of those weaker players.


5.Stay Within Your Bankroll- This is the most important poker cash game rule to follow. Anyone who is just starting out playing poker always has the idea that if they have $100 at poker rooms then they should be playing at a game that is close to that. They would play at lets say $50 poker SNGs or even worse, $100 games instead of playing at the smaller stakes and having multiple buy-ins to work with.

This is very important. You only want to play at a game that you have some padding in. Even though you are playing against players that are weaker than you, there is still variance in the game.

This means that even though your opponent could be on a draw that they don’t have odds to call on in which you have the better hand, they still hit their draw occasionally. This is variance. Any player who is serious about playing poker will experience this. It hurts when you lose a buy-in over an opponent hitting a draw they didn’t have odds to call on, but that is what you want because in the long run their draws will miss more than they will hit and you will make more than you lose the times they do hit.



What is Bankroll Management?

Always see the money you take to a table with you as an investment, in the same way you would if you were buying shares. As someone who is responsible with their money, you would only buy those shares if they promised a good return and the risk of loss was manageable. It’s the same concept when you use bankroll management in poker.

It shows you what limits to invest in, i.e. how high your stakes should be, to find a good balance between your desire to...

... advance as far as possible when you win and collect a lot of money.

... not drop too far back when you lose and not lose too much of your poker money.

You want to make a lot of money when you win but not be hit too hard when you lose. This can be done by keeping to the '25-Buy-in-Bankroll Management' rule. It tells you how big your poker account (bankroll) has to be to move up a limit, and when you need to put on the brakes and move down a limit.

Bankroll management for the Big Stack Strategy looks like this:  



  • You always join a table with a full stack (100 big blinds). 100 big blinds equal one buy-in. 
  • Once you have 25 buy-ins for the next highest limit, you can move up to that limit.
  • If you only have 25 buy-ins for the next lowest limit, you must move down to that limit.



You have
Limit you can play Table buy-in
less than $100 NL2 (0.01/0.02) $2
less than $250
NL4 (0.02/0.04) $4
less than $500
NL10 (0.05/0.10) $10
less than $625
NL20 (0.10/0.20) $20
less than $1,250
NL25 (0.10/0.25) $25
less than $2,500
NL50 (0.25/0.50) $50

If you join tables of a limit that is too high for your bankroll, you will make yourself an easy target. Higher limit players are just waiting for opponents like you. Without solid bankroll management, it doesn’t matter how well you play, it is simply not possible to make a long-term profit. Even the best players in the world go bust if they don't stick to bankroll management.




HOW TO PLAY BEFORE THE FLOP

Choosing the right starting hand is half the battle in poker. If you enter the game with the right cards, you will not only avoid difficult situations in the later betting rounds, you can also be reasonably sure that you are indeed holding the best hand. 

And that's exactly what this article is all about. You will learn when certain hands are playable and why, as well as how to extract maximum profit from them. 

You will be provided with an overview of this in the Starting Hands Chart, which gives you a simple strategy for the first betting round in an easy to understand table format. Just as with all other strategies on PokerStrategy.com, you can download this chart to print out and use while you play. 

The next section gives a quick overview of the table positions, after which we will look at the actual strategy.

Free poker money tip: Before you start playing with your free poker money, click here to download the chart!

What is your position at the table?

The order in which players act, depends on how they are seated in relation to the dealer (D). The more players between the dealer and you during the betting round (counter clockwise), the sooner you have to act and the earlier your position. 

Your position tells you when it will be your turn to act. 

If you are one of the first to act, you are in early position. When you are in late position, your turn to act will come later in the round. This is important - the earlier you have to act, the stronger your hand must be, since the more players there are after you, the greater the chance that one of them has stronger cards than you. 

The earlier your position, the stronger your hand must be. 

There are 10 positions at a 10-handed table. These positions are divided into four groups: the early, middle, and late positions, and the blinds. 

 

 Dealer
2 Late positions
3 Middle Positions
3 Early positions
2 Blind positions
Move the cursor over each group to see the corresponding seats.

The two late positions BU and CO 
The dealer and the player to his right are in the late positions. The dealer is also referred to as the BU (Button) and the player to his right as the CO (Cutoff).

The three middle positions MP1, MP2 and MP3
The three players to the right of the late positions are in the middle positions. They are referred to as MP1, MP2 and MP3.

The three early positions UTG1, UTG2 and UTG3
The three players to the right of the middle positions are in the early positions. They are referred to as UTG1, UTG2 and UTG3.

The two blind positions SB and BB
The two players who have to post the blinds are in the blind positions. The player to the left of the dealer must post the Small Blind (SB); the player to his left must post the Big Blind (BB).


WHAT IF THERE ARE LESS THAN 10 PLAYERS AT THE TABLE?

So far we assumed there were 10 players at the table, but this isn't always the case. 

If there are only 9 players at the table, you drop one early position. If there are only 8 players at the table, there is only one early position. With 7 players or less at the table, there are no early positions at all. 

For every empty seat you eliminate one position, starting with the early positions, then the middle, and so on. 


Starting Hands Chart: Which Hands Should You Play?

THE NO LIMIT STARTING HANDS CHART

The Starting Hands Chart for No Limit Texas Hold'em shows you which hands you should play and how you should play them. Simply print it out and you will always know what to do throughout the entire game.

Further reading: Check out the poker hands overview for a general explanation on hand ranking for all game types.

The chart contains four categories of information:

  • Your starting hand
  • The actions of your opponents before you
  • Your position
  • How you should play your starting hand considering your current position and the actions of your opponents before you.


Your Hand
Actions Before You
Early Pos. Middle Pos. Late Pos. Blinds
High Pairs
  All players folded
Raise
AA, KK, QQ Players called
Raise
  1 player raised Raise
Middle Pairs
  All players folded
Raise
JJ, TT
Players called
Raise
  1 player raised
Call20
Low Pairs
99, 88, 77, All players folded
Fold Call
Raise Call
66, 55, 44,
Players called
Fold
Call
33, 22 1 player raised
Call20
Your Hand
Actions Before You
Early Pos. Middle Pos. Late Pos. Blinds
High Aces (s stands for suited, o stands for offsuit)
  All players folded
Raise
AKo, AKs
Players called
Raise
  1 player raised
Raise
Middle Aces (s stands for suited, o stands for offsuit)
AQo, AQs
All players folded
Fold
Raise
AJs, AJo
Players called
Fold Raise Call
ATs, ATo
1 player raised
Fold
Low Suited Aces (s stands for suited)
A9s, A8s, A7s,
All players folded
Fold Raise
A6s, A5s, A4s,
Players called
Fold Call
A3s, A2s
1 player raised Fold
Your Hand
Actions Before You
Early Pos. Middle Pos. Late Pos. Blinds
Suited Face Cards (s stands for suited)
KQs, KJs, KTs, All players folded
Fold Raise
QJs, QTs, Players called
Fold
Call
JTs 1 player raised
Fold
Offsuit Face Cards (o stands for offsuit)
KQo, KJo, KTo, All players folded
Fold Raise
QJo, QTo,
Players called
Fold Call
JTo 1 player raised
Fold
Suited Connectors
T9s, 98s,
All players folded
Fold Raise Fold
87s, 76s, Players called
Fold Call
65s, 54s 1 player raised
Fold
Your Hand
Actions Before You
Early Pos. Middle Pos. Late Pos. Blinds
All other hands not considered above
  All players folded
Fold
The rest
Players called
Fold
  1 player raised
Fold


The First Column: Your Hand

In the left column you see the possible starting hands. Each starting hand is abbreviated. AA, for example, stands for two aces, 99 for two nines. If your hand is not included in the chart, you should fold.


A Ace
Q
Queen
T
Ten
K King
J
Jack
9
Nine


Suited cards s: An s behind the hand, as in A9s, stands for suited and means that both of the cards you are holding are of the same suit (hearts, diamonds, spades or clubs). Which suit it is doesn't play any role in Texas hold'em.

  • A9s stands for ace nine of the same suit
  • A4s stands for ace four of the same suit
  • QJs stands for queen jack of the same suit
  • QTs stands for queen ten of the same suit

Offsuit cards o: An o behind the hand, as in KQo, stands for offsuit and means that the two cards are of two different suits, for example if you are holding a club and a heart.

  • KQo stands for king queen of different suits
  • QTo stands for queen ten of different suits
  • JTo stands for jack ten of different suits
THE SECOND COLUMN: WHAT ACTION TOOK PLACE BEFORE YOU?

The second column shows you the possible answers to this question. You obviously play differently when someone raised before you, since this is a sign that your opponent has a strong hand.



COLUMNS 3-6: WHAT TO DO DEPENDING ON YOUR POSITION

Your position tells you in what column to look next. If you are in early position, look at the third column, if you are in the Small Blind or Big Blind, look at the last column.


WHAT DOES 'CALL 20' MEAN?

When you play a small pair like 55 you are speculating on hitting three-of-a-kind on the flop. This only happens approx. 12% of the time, but when it does, you will have a very strong hand that can bring in a fair amount of money. This is why it's profitable to call a raise when holding a small pair, as long as your opponent has enough money to pay you off when you do hit. 

With a small pair, you should only call a raise, when your opponent has at least 20x the raise amount in his stack. By the way, this applies to you as well. You must also have 20x the raise amount. You can only win as much money as you have in your stack, so if your opponent has 20x the raise amount but you don't, it really doesn't help you. That is what the term 'Call 20' means. 


How much should you raise?

IF THERE WAS NO RAISE BEFORE YOU

If no one raised before you, you simply raise 4 big blinds + 1 big blind for every player that entered the hand before you. 

Your raise =
  • 4x big blind
  • plus 1 big blind for every player that entered the hand before you.

Assume you just got your starting capital and are playing NL2 (0.01/0.02). The big blind is $0.02.

When you raise, you raise at least 4 * $0.02 = $0.08. 

If someone joined the pot before you, you add an additional $0.02 to this amount for a total of $0.10. If two players entered the hand before you, you add two additional big blinds to this amount and raise to a total of $0.12.

IF THERE WAS EXACTLY ONE RAISE BEFORE YOU

If an opponent raised before you, you re-raise to 3x the size of the original raise. For every player that calls this raise before you, you increase the size of your re-raise by the size of the original raise.

Your re-raise =
  • 3x the size of the original raise
  • plus 1x the size of the original raise for each player that called.

Assume you are playing NL2 (0.01/0.02). A player before you raises to $0.08. You have two aces and want to re-raise to get money in the pot. Your raise should be 3 * $0.08 = $0.24. 

If another player called this raise before you, you add an additional $0.08 to this amount, for a total of $0.32. 

If two players before you called the raise, you re-raise to $0.40. 

IF THERE WAS MORE THAN ONE RAISE BEFORE YOU

If there was more than one raise before you, one thing is clear: You're not getting involved if you don't have a monster hand. You only play AA and KK, two aces and two kings. When you do have a monster, your line of play is simple in this scenario: you go all-in. 

If there was more than one raise before you, you only play AA and KK and you go all-in.

Two queens (QQ) or ace king (AK) should be folded, just like every other hand that isn't AA or KK. 


What if someone raises after you?

YOU HAVE A PAIR OF ACES OR A PAIR OF KINGS

If you have a pair of aces or kings, you should just keep on raising. The best thing you can do is try and go all-in before the flop and put all your money in the middle. Some beginners have trouble doing this, but keep in mind that you are well ahead against every other pair by approx. 80%. You can hardly find a more profitable opportunity to go all-in.

Fold all other hands, including AK and AQ, hard as it may be for you to do so. You can, however, make an exception to this rule when you have a pocket pair.

YOU HAVE A POCKET PAIR

There is, as we just said, one exception. When you have a pocket pair smaller than AA or KK, you can make an exception and call a raise, as long as both you and your opponent have stacks at least 20x the amount you're about to call. 
Just like when you follow the Call 20 rule from the Starting Hands Chart, you are speculating on hitting three-of-a-kind on the flop. If you do hit, chances are good that you'll be able to win your opponent's entire stack. 

YOUR OPPONENT ONLY MIN-RAISES

You will find players who only min-raise fairly often in the lower limits. Whatever they may think they are doing, it certainly doesn't make much sense. 

If you have already entered the hand and one opponent raises after you by the smallest amount allowed, a so-called min-raise, you should always call, unless, of course, you have AA or KK, in which case you re-raise. 



Examples

EXAMPLE 1- NO RAISES BEFORE YOU
Limit NL 2 $0.01/$0.02 (big blind = $0.02)
Your hand
Position UTG3 (early position)
Situation You have two players in front of you. Both call and pay the $0.02 big blind. Now it's your turn to make a decision.


You definitely want to raise with this hand. AK is, quite simply, a good hand. But how much should you raise to? 

The rule says: Raise 4 big blinds + 1 big blind for each player that has entered the hand. 

In this example 2 players have already called. You raise to a total of 6 big blinds. And since the big blind in this limit is $0.02, you raise to a total of 6 * $0.02 = $0.12. 

EXAMPLE 2 - CALL 20
Limit NL 2 $0.01/$0.02 (big blind = $0.02)
Your hand
Position MP3 (middle position)
Situation Everyone folds except for the player directly before you, who raises to $0.08. He then has $1.90 left in his stack.


Since you have a pocket pair and an opponent raised before you, you play according to the Call 20 rule. This rule says you can call a raise when you have a pocket pair and you and your opponent both have at least 20* the size of the raise left in your stacks. 

Your opponent's raise was $0.08. 20 * $0.08 = $1.60. This is the amount both, you, and your opponent must have in your stacks for you to be able to call his raise with your pocket pair. Your opponent has $1.90 remaining, and you always have a full buy-in ($2), since you are a good player. In this example you can call the raise and see if you hit three-of-a-kind on the flop. 

EXAMPLE 3 - A RAISE AFTER YOU
Limit NL 2 $0.01/$0.02 (big blind = $0.02)
Your hand
Position MP2 (middle position)
Situation Everyone before you folds. You obviously raise with AK; $0.08 is the right amount in this example. But then you encounter resistance, as an opponent after you raises, to $0.24. What should you do?


If your first thought is 'fold,' you have already learned quite a bit. Your hand may look nice, but you have to fold AK if there's a large raise after you. 

EXAMPLE 4 - A MIN-RAISE AFTER YOU
Limit NL 2 $0.01/$0.02 (big blind = $0.02)
Your hand
Position BU (Button, late position)
Situation You are on the Button, meaning you are the dealer. Everyone before you folds. The Starting Hands Chart says to raise. You raise to $0.08, but the player in the Big Blind doesn't want to play along and raises to $0.16.


In this example you are confronted with a min-raise. Normally you would just fold A8s when someone raises after you, but the rules say you should always call when an opponent min-raises after you. 

Take a look at the flop. You have position on your opponent, and your hand isn't all that bad. Just don't play for a big pot if all you hit is a pair of aces or eights. 

EXAMPLE 5 - TWO RAISES BEFORE YOU
Limit NL 2 $0.01/$0.02 (big blind = $0.02)
Your hand
Position BU (Button, late position)
Situation A player in early position raises to $0.08. Then a player in middle position re-raises to $0.24. Now it's your turn to act.


This is a very nice situation to be in. Of course, a pair of aces would be even better, but even with a pair of kings you don't have to think twice before going all-in. Instead of trying to figure out how high your raise should be, you simply go all-in and bet all your money.

If you had an ace and a king (AK) or two queens (QQ) you would have to fold. These hands are rarely good when two opponents raise before you.