Differences SNGs and Full Ring Cash Games

Chris_TC

Chris_TC

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Hey folks,

I've been mostly playing SNGs so far but have occasionally tried out cash games. While I'm pretty successful in SNGs, I've been doing badly whenever I've played a cash game.
True, 5000 hands are hardly anything to go by, but the game at a cash table always feels different to me than at a tournament table, and I can't quite put my hand on why that is.

One thing I've noticed is that there seems to be a fairly high amount of preflop re-raises, something I hardly ever witness at a 10-handed SNG table (I'm talking $100 SNG and 100NL).
Apart from that I'm really not sure about the differences. Maybe it's all in my imagination. How do you guys play these games? Do you play differently in a ring game vs. a tournament?

I want to play more cash games, so any tips are very appreciated.
 
Insomniac_1006

Insomniac_1006

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I vote for it's all in your imagination...

OMG, I just made a hee haw noise.

Ring games are different than tournaments, in that ring games can go on and on and tournaments have a ending point before the next one starts. But I guess that could be said for ring games too.
 
tenbob

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The main difference is the stack sizes. In a nl$100 ring game you should idealy have a stack of > than 100xbb. Even at the start of a sit and go tournament on stars you have a stack of 75xBB, which decreases as the tournament progresses. So as thing go on youll find that re-raises become shoves. This dosnt happen on the ring tables, so youll get 3-bet more often by players without them committing their stack to it.

Things like implied odds become much more important when your so deep-stacked, so hands like small pairs increase in value even in raised pots especially against aggressive players. You can float more, call down light more, bet for value more and all because of your greater relative stack size.

Really if you considering playing more nl ring, you need to do a few things. Post a few hands here, buy nl Holdem TAP, use PT and PAHud and be familiar with what the stats mean. Apart from that there is little more information I can give you in a single post.
 
NineLions

NineLions

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And to add to what tb says about stack sizes, that also means you play more post flop at ring. The blinds don't rise and the table doesn't get shorter so you don't spend the last 1/3 of your time in push/fold, or playing against players who are playing in push/fold mode.
 
Chris_TC

Chris_TC

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Thanks for all the advice, everything you said makes perfect sense.
I guess I'll have a go at cash games tomorrow and see how things work out :)

If anybody else has got something to share, please feel free to do so.
 
J

jonfelkin

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I find these games very different too, I think its due to the rising blinds and the fact that players get eliminated in SnG games. Players feel they have to make there move a lot sooner and play hands they may have folded to your raise on cash game. When i first started playing cash games i went bust a lot playing the way i did in a SnG but i learned you gotta wait for better hands and blind steals are more effective as players seem to have a smaller calling range. This is at the very low limets but i guess there is a difference between the play at all limets.
 
Egon Towst

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Chris, if you are relatively new to ring games and not very confident at them, why are you playing $100NL ?

Surely it would be safer to learn the ropes at (say) $25NL, and move up later. Could be an expensive education otherwise.
 
jaketrevvor

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Yeah, definately start out lower stakes until you get more experienced I'd say.

After playing a lot of tournaments playing a ring game can be very refreshing, as it is free from all of the tournament pressures of rising blinds, a dwindling chips stack etc. The most key difference as has been said above is the difference in stack sizes between the two. As tenbob said, for this reason implied odds are FAR, FAR more important in ring games and I will try to see a flop with suited connectors or low pockets a lot more here.

Also another thing that hasn't been mentioned yet: in tournaments you need to steal a lot to stay alive and also with rising blinds you often need to defend your BB to raises. In ring games the blinds are such a small percentage of your stack that they are pretty much irrelavent, so instead you need to defend your POSITION. Most of the time if there are a couple limpers before me and I'm on the button I will raise it up REGARDLESS of the two cards I'm holding, as having this postional advantage on everyone only comes around every 9 or 10 hands or whatever so you need to exploit it as much as possible. This having been said if you raise every time you're on the button you will get far too predictable and exploitable of course.

jt
 
Chris_TC

Chris_TC

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Chris, if you are relatively new to ring games and not very confident at them, why are you playing $100NL ?
To be honest, I'm not lacking confidence these days, quite the opposite really. When I sit down at a table, I always feel that I could outplay every single one of my opponents.

This said, I just finished a 2-hour session of 3-tabling $1/$2 and it was very profitable (an unsustainable 14 BB/100).

I think my main problem used to be that I was way too impatient. In SNGs you don't have forever to wait for hands. You have to make moves, maybe big bluffs, whatever it takes to get chips.
In cash games you do have forever, literally. So it seems to make much more sense to be patient and wait for those really strong hands.

I was very happy with my play today. I made a few big laydowns and didn't make any major mistakes.
Also, your tips helped me get a feel for the game quickly.

In ring games the blinds are such a small percentage of your stack that they are pretty much irrelavent, so instead you need to defend your POSITION.
Another great tip, thank you!
I hadn't even thought about it this way. Since the table never gets more shorthanded as it does in SNGs, it really does make a lot of sense to use position to its fullest when you have it.
 
aliengenius

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Here is an article you might find useful:

Written by Matthew Hilger

Very few players succeed in both tournaments and cash games. Generally, you find players who are specialists. Maybe they travel the tournament trail around the country, playing the World Poker Tour and world series of poker Tournament Circuit events. Maybe they play sit-and-go tournaments on the Internet all of the time. Maybe they specialize in small-stakes no-limit hold'em cash games. Or, maybe they specialize in online multitable tournaments. Generally, most poker players are specialists.

Of course there are exceptions, such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Ivey, who succeed at the highest levels in both cash games and tournaments. But for every one of them, there are dozens of popular professionals who specialize in specific formats, such as Phil Hellmuth, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, and Mike Matusow. And, of course, there are many cash-game specialists at the higher levels whom we have never heard of.

Why is this? A hand of Texas hold'em is played the same, whether you play in tournaments or cash games. A flush still beats a straight. Of course, there are a lot of intricacies that differentiate cash games from tournaments - things such as limited stack sizes, no rebuys, blinds to stack ratios, increasing blinds, and bubble play, just to name a few. Granted, these little discrepancies shouldn't be too hard for smart players to figure out. If they are smart enough to succeed at particular variants of the game, shouldn't they be smart enough to learn the subtle differences between each?

The difference is something much deeper, as it has a lot to do with style. Let's first look at cash games. For the purposes of this column, I am referring to full-ring cash games, since this is comparable to tournament play until the final two tables. The biggest mistake players make when starting out is playing too many hands. As they lose, they start to learn that playing fewer hands is generally a better strategy. Eventually, most players learn that a tight-aggressive strategy can reap big profits. They generally are seeing flops with the better hands, which gives them a tremendous edge.

By playing tight, they also reduce their variance, which is helpful for most players' bankrolls. Most beginning to intermediate players play on a limited bankroll, so less variance is always better, given the same earn rate.

Let's look now at tournaments. There is one major aspect of tournaments that changes completely the way the game is played: payout structures. Tournaments are structured so that practically all of the money goes to the top three spots. Generally, only 10 percent of the players get paid, and most of them earn only modest profits. To succeed in tournaments, you must be winning them or at least coming very close to winning to reap the big profits.

Imagine a wsop preliminary event with 1,500 entrants played in about 25 hours, or an online event with 800 players played over eight hours. In the live event, you might get dealt about 500 hands, and about the same in the online event; only 500 hands for the victory, the glory, and the big cash! How many premium hands do you hope to get in the tournament? You should get dealt aces a couple of times, kings a couple of times, and so on. You can expect A-K about six times and A-Q about six times. Of course, it will be very difficult to win all of those hands. Let's say that you are lucky and get double your fair share of premium hands. Will that be enough to beat a field of 1,500 players, or 800 players? The answer is: probably not. Loose players win tournaments; tight players hope to make the money. You can even argue that higher variance is preferable even if the earn rate per hand is slightly less. This is why some losing or break-even players in cash games can occasionally do quite well in a tournament.

Loose players have higher peaks and lower valleys. When I refer to "peaks," I am referring to your aggregate results over all of the hands that it takes to complete a tournament. In a tournament, you want to reach high peaks, even at the expense of also incurring a lot of valleys. To give these peaks a value, let's assign them a 9 or 10 on a scale of 10. You are trying to climb Mount Everest and hit a major run of cards in a short period of time.
The valleys don't really matter that much, since you can lose only your buy-in. Tournament players are rewarded for high variance and are punished very little for it.

Players who use a tight strategy in cash games have comparably smaller peaks and valleys. This is a profitable strategy, as big valleys can be quite costly in a cash game. But if you use the same strategy in a tournament, your peaks will never be as high as those of a loose player. Your best result is to occasionally hit a peak of 7 or 8. If you reach a peak of an 8 on the scale of 10, how do you expect to win a tournament with 800 to 1,500 players in it? Surely, a few of them are going to have peaks of a 9 or 10.

Herein lies the paradox of poker. You can do quite well in cash games by playing a tight strategy, whereas the best strategy in tournaments is a loose one. This is why it is so difficult for so many players to make the transition from cash games to tournaments, and vice versa. Once they learn a certain style of poker, it is difficult to make the transition to another one.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Yes. If you are a cash-game player with a typical tight strategy who wants to start trying tournaments, realize that you will probably need to loosen up your game significantly in order to achieve success. Conversely, if you are a tournament player who's ready to tackle cash games, be wary of those big valleys, as they can be much more costly than they are in a tournament.
 
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Chris_TC

Chris_TC

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Great article, thanks for posting it!

It's in line with my observation that I used to play too many hands at the cash game tables. Trying to force things when you have all the time in the world is -EV I suppose.
 
U

userveme

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Here is an article you might find useful:

Written by Matthew Hilger

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Yes. If you are a cash-game player with a typical tight strategy who wants to start trying tournaments, realize that you will probably need to loosen up your game significantly in order to achieve success. Conversely, if you are a tournament player who's ready to tackle cash games, be wary of those big valleys, as they can be much more costly than they are in a tournament.

wow. i was so bored i read the whole speech. i felt like i was reading the birds and the bee's. ha! the last paragraph alone could have worked too ya know. ;)
 
jazzaxe

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Another thing is in cash games choose the right table. No matter what limit you play if you are in a game with more than 2 solid players you are going to have a tough time making money. Watch a few orbits and see who the aggressive players are and who are calling big bets. If you see players changing styles they are usually solid especially if they are putting a lot of money in preflop. I would avoidthese players and look for players who are willing to bet their stack on marginal hands. If you play tight and try to form monstor flops, you will be the one taking their stacks.
 
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