When you go online these days then there are a plethora of cash games to choose from at all levels of play. These range from $0.02 micro stakes games all the way up to an including nosebleed stakes. You can also play full ring cash games, six max cash games or heads up games. So there is a wide range of choice for the cash game enthusiast. At this time I play at www.888.com where there is a fairy large volume of soft action most days and especially at the weekends when many casino regulars drop in and play poker.
At stakes like NL100 then 888.com have ten handed games rather than the usual nine handed games where each game has a jackpot drop. This encourages softer play but just how do you adjust to playing full ring games and should you switch from six max games to full ring games or play full ring games first before switching to six max?
Feeling your way slowly
If you are a tournament regular and are not used to the relatively slow pace of cash games then you may struggle at first. Many tournament regulars who have little experience at playing cash games often find that they spew money by playing too many hands or overplay the hands that they get. Cash games offer you the chance to buy in for one hundred big blinds and to constantly keep that topped up. On 888.com then you can simply check the box that allows you to automatically top up when your stack drops under 100bb when you first sit down at the table.
So if you are new to cash games then starting out slowly is not a bad idea. Try to orientate yourself by reading a few cash game books like the Harrington series which will underline the power of patience. In fact patience and discipline can be your two biggest weapons in cash games. If you sit for long enough then some players will almost actually pass you their money.
Waiting for the fish to bite
At the lower stakes cash game levels then making money is almost like fishing. You put your bait out and sit and wait but it may take some time to actually get a bite and even then the fish may get off the hook and get away a few times before you land one. If you cannot be at one with this then you will struggle playing full ring cash games.
Another reason to play full ring games as opposed to six handed games is that full ring games are easier to play and to beat. The monetary swings are smaller and so this has a much better effect on your psyche which makes full ring games better for newer players or players who hate losing several buy-ins very quickly. I have always maintained that a player cannot really consider themselves truly experienced until they have been through a really bad run. While I am not saying that this is the making of a poker player, you don’t really mentally toughen up until you have experienced the beats and come through the other side.
The major differences in mind-set
On poker sites like 888.com then I often feel that there are psychological reasons as to why players choose full ring when they have options to choose six max cash games. If you go to a live casino then you may be forced through lack of choice to play games that do not ideally suit your personality or your style. However there is so much choice online that you tend to naturally gravitate to the style of poker and the type of cash games that you want to play. So when you see someone playing full ring then this is an indication that this player wants to play full ring over six max or heads up……the next question is why?
There is fundamentally only one reason why a player chooses full ring over six max when they have plenty of choice and that is to do with being risk averse. Playing full ring games offer players the chance to fold many more hands and it be theoretically correct to do so. A full ring game basically polices itself to a certain extent because your ranges have to be so much tighter when you are out of position. We will be looking at further full ring cash game dynamics in part two of this mini-series and so tune in and keep a look out for that.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson plays poker at http://www.888.com