To the beginner, there doesn't seem to be much difference between tournament play and cash game play when it comes to Texas hold 'em. However, there are huge strategic differences that you need to know about if you're going to be successful. Oftentimes I have met extremely tough tournament players who were almost complete fools when playing cash games. In this article, we will discuss some key differences that you should be aware of when playing Texas hold 'em cash games.
First, cash games moves slower than tournament games. This has to do with the blinds. Blinds increase as the tournament progresses so that players are eliminated quicker. This means you can be more patient as you plot your strategies and employ psychological tactics.
The main difference in strategy has to do with the number of hands you will play. In a tournament you are practically pressured into playing more hands. In cash games you can be more selective about the hands you choose to play. In fact, it is a good rule of thumb when first starting to play cash games to limit yourself to only playing high-quality hands such as pairs that are nines or higher, or certain face card combinations. Of course, you want to mix it up from time to time so no one can guess what you have.
There is another dynamic in cash games which completely alters the way they are played. In tournament play, once your money is gone then you're out the door. With cash games, you can rebuy your way back into the game. This is a double-edged sword.
On one hand, it can save you the heartbreak associated with tournament play where you play excellent up until the final round, where you just miss being in the prize pool. On the other hand, this should not give you the excuse to simply try to go after winning a pot because you know you can rebuy if you lose all your money.
I know it seems obvious, but unless you consciously remind yourself not to commit to a pot simply because you have the option of rebuy, you will likely make a mistake and end up spending — and losing — way more money than you expected. Use these simple tips to improve your chances of winning in Texas hold 'em cash games.