If you learned poker from watching it on television, you may have never played a cash game before. Many players have gone straight from watching WSOP or WPT broadcasts to playing Internet Texas Holdem in sit and go's or multi-table tournaments.
However, most of the great players got their start and continue to make money in cash games. If you are thinking of trying cash game poker, here are a few things to expect.
Limit Vs. No Limit
Most people choose to play no limit tournaments as a matter of course. They are the most common and the most fun to play. However, if you are going to play cash game poker, you are going to have to decide whether you want to play a limit or a no limit game.
Limit games are described by their limits, for example, in a $3/$6 limit game you can bet $3 before and on the flop, and $6 on the turn and river. No limit games are described by their blinds. A $2/$4 blind game means that the small blind puts up $2 and the big blind puts up $4, with subsequent raises needing to be at least $4, but which can be any amount up to a player’s entire stack.
No limit games have much more variance. However, they allow you to protect good hands, bluff and trap much more effectively than in limit games.
In a cash game, you can win or lose considerable sums very quickly. This can come as a shock to tournament players who are usually prepared to lose only their buy-in. You should come to a game prepared to put two or three buy-ins into play, so that you can weather the variance of the game.
Managing the Blinds
Since the blinds in cash games never go up, you do not have to be as aggressive as in tournaments. You can afford to wait for strong hands before ever entering a pot. You can also be willing to risk more money on smaller edges, since a loss will not eliminate you from a cash game as long as you have money in your pocket.