Cash Game Poker
Cash games, also known as ring games are different to tournaments which we talk about in our tournament poker section. When you bust out of a tournament, you’re out. No getting back in, no chasing your losses, time to go home. Cash tables however will be happy to feed your compulsion all night long, once you’ve got the money to keep playing! In cash games you can buy in whenever you want and leave whenever you want. I suggest buying in, playing for a little while, winning a huge pot against someone when you’re all-in and a large underdog and then cashing out immediately afterwards. It’s a great feeling and everyone will be your friend. I hope you noted the air of sarcasm but if not, please don’t do this. It’s highly annoying and you may find your car has no windows when you go leave the poker club next time.
In a cash game, the chips on the table represent real money. So if you buy in for $200, you’ll be given chips to that value for you to play with at the table, and you can win up to that amount off any individual player in a given hand. You have to play with what’s on the table in front of you. You can’t decide when you have a great hand on the flop that you want to get more money to play with from your wallet. Generally if you win money and decide that you want to pocket your profits and start again with your $200, you won’t be allowed. This is known as ‘going south’ and if it is allowed by the rules of the club, it’s still seen as highly unethical.
Most people beginning in poker start by playing tournaments. The fact that they have a fixed buy-in means that inexperienced players can limit their liability to that buy-in, where as with cash games things can quickly snowball and a new player can lose a lot of money in a short time due to inexperience.
In cash games the blinds don’t change as they do in tournaments. The lowest stakes typically spread in Las Vegas and other casinos is $1/$2 small and big blinds respectively, and the minimum buy-in will vary by casino but will typically be at least $50. Generally, stacks can become quite deep in cash games and it would not be unusual to have maybe 200-300 big blinds in front of you with some other players at the table having similar stacks. Such a deep stack size means that there is the potential for maneuvering, advanced plays, and big bluffs on every street, which may not be the case in shallower stacked games or tournaments. It is for this reason that cash game players believe there is more skill and finesse required to play cash game poker. Harrington on Cash Games is a great resource to learn the tricks of the trade.
The high-stakes cash games on the internet attract lots of ‘rail birds’ or observers every day, where you can see Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, the infamous Isildur1 and many more online poker stars doing battle, and sometimes winning or losing millions of dollars in a single session. It really makes you feel pretty low on the poker food chain when you see one of these guys pulling of a complete bluff with enough chips to buy your house!