Real Money Cash Game Strategy for Online Poker
Real money poker gives you a way to start playing online cash games whenever you want. It’s the best, most convenient way to play a real game at any time of day, no matter where you are (thanks to mobile poker). But of course, you need a solid strategy to ensure that, when the dealing’s done at the virtual casino, you’re one of the players walking away from the table with a win that makes you a whole lot richer.
Long term winners don’t just fly by the seat of their pants and do whatever “feels right” when playing. Instead, their actions and behaviors are built on a foundation of proper poker strategy that helps them make the correct move more often than not. Sure, instincts ultimately become quite important over time, but the strategy component can’t be ignored.
Before we dive into strategy, let’s start with the simplest point of them all so we can help every new reader out:
1. What are Cash Games?
Online cash games, unlike free online poker, are casino games where players sit with a certain amount of real money available for betting during play. If the table is a $1/2 cash game, you might sit with $40 of your Ignition Poker deposit. When you ante, you’re betting real money from that stack, and when you win, you’re getting real money from other players.
A cash game is different from a tournament in that winnings are distributed after each hand of real money poker. You don’t have to eliminate other players or battle to a final table. Instead, you can get up after any hand. Even if you’ve just scored a big win, you are free to stand up right after. Your winnings are like a bonus you get paid immediately in a cash game, and you decide after each hand what to do.
2. Understand Your Position at a Table
Real money poker is all about position. In each new round, there is a dealer button that marks the player who is last. The player immediately to the left of that is the small blind and the next player to the left is the big blind. Then there’s the player in early position who is “under the gun,” or first to act. Other players will act after that, so you need strong cards to play “out of position.” Players acting after you in online cash games have an advantage – an easier path to a win – and are therefore free to loosen up their starting standards. A pocket pair of nines look their best in late position, when you get to act after everyone else. But in early position? Yikes. Save that for when you’re playing free online poker.
3. How to Play (Tight? Aggressive? Both?)
The best strategy will depend on the table you’re playing at.
If the table you choose at the casino is full of players betting wildly and aggressively going all in like coked-up day traders, you need to wait for decent cards and then get paid. Don’t be bullied.
On the other hand, if a real money poker table is loaded with tight players, you are free to loosen up and push people around more in these games. Raise and reraise, taking down bonus pots by making people fold. In those online cash games, late position is your best friend. When someone stands their ground, though, stop pushing, or you may cough up your deposit. They probably have the goods.
4. Learn from Your Losses
Don’t be too eager to play a new hand after a big beat in your games. Real money poker and online cash games, and to an extent free online poker, are all about learning and coming back stronger next time. You are free to review the hand, see where things went wrong, and digest the lesson before anteing up again. Go slowly and think through your assumptions and decisions in each spot.
Did you misread the hand the other player had?
Did you make your hand too obvious?
Did you just get unlucky?
Did you chase a draw when pot odds didn’t support it?
Take the new lesson to heart as a bonus and you’re not losing the hand; you’re paying to learn. It’s like poker tuition.
5. Don’t Play Games with More than You Can Lose
This rule is the best. It’s the king of them all. Unlike free online poker, real money poker at any casino requires discipline when it comes to your bankroll. If you deposit $100 into your Ignition Poker account, don’t play online cash games with that much. Instead, take ten to a $.10/.20 table, if one is available. The point is to only have a percentage of your total bankroll at stake in a particular online poker game. If you lose it, take a break. Remember, almost everybody tilts, but winners don’t play when tilting.
Did you take down those tips? All right, now let’s take down some pots!