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Tournament vs Cash Game: Strategy Differences

May 30, 2023
by Lex Veldhuis

PokerStars Team Pro Lex Veldhuis, shares some key insight into the differences between tournaments and cash games as both require a very different approach. There are, however, big opportunities to win sizable pots through multi-way action or by leveraging positional advantages by understanding and applying the advice in the video.

Tighten Up Your Preflop Range

Unlike in tournaments, players should be folding most hands before the flop in cash games. Only play hands that have a good chance of winning a big pot, such as high pairs, suited connectors, and high Broadway cards like A-Q and K-J. Avoid limping in or calling raises with marginal hands, instead, either raise with a strong range or fold.

No Small Bets – Use Large Bets to Build Big Pots 

In cash games, players should size bets to build pots rather than chipping away at opponents’ stacks. Small bets are rarely used since the rake in each pot cuts too deeply into potential winnings. When in cash games, it’s important to look for spots to bet around half the pot or more to charge opponents who want to continue in the hand.

Check-raise Aggressively to Defend When Playing Out of Position 

When playing out of position, leverage the opportunity to check-raise opponents who continuation bet too frequently. Since ranges are tighter in cash games, check-raising with a draw or mid-pair can be an effective play to win the pot immediately or set up a profitable position on later streets. Be aware of your limitations in cash games, and what hands limit the play.

Know When Opponents are Capped to Bluff Catch or Overbet

Pay close attention to the action in each hand to determine when opponents no longer have very strong hands in their range. When they are “capped”, take the opportunity to bluff catch with weak hands that might be best or overbet to take down sizable pots.  Understanding that cash games are different to tournaments and that players move differently on these tables is key to achieving success.

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