Cash games incorporate seating as strategy

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One big advantage cash games offer over tournaments is table and seat selection. In a tournament, you have no choice in the matter; it is wherever the director assigns you – just a matter of chance. On the other hand, in a cash game you do have options.

When you sign up for a cash game at the casino, you are soon directed to an empty seat at a table playing your selected game and stakes. While waiting to be seated, you had wisely observed that table and others in action. If you decided that table is not to your liking, just tell the person at the sign-up board you will wait for another table. It is your prerogative with money at risk. That’s one good reason many poker enthusiasts prefer cash games!

After being seated and playing for a while, you might decide this table is not to your liking. Just ask the floorman for a table change. You cannot do that in a tournament. It may take a little while; be patient. In case the floorman forgets, don’t hesitate to remind him 15 minutes or so later. (He may have forgotten or trying to keep all tables fairly even as to the number of players at each.)

As for your seat at the table, there well may be a viable reason to change. Again, you don’t have that option in a tournament.

Why a table change?

Every poker table has a texture – a certain character that defines the game. Is it loose, with lots of players staying to see the flop? Perhaps it’s tight, with most players folding preflop, hand after hand? Is it passive, with very little raising – mostly checking followed by a fold or calling a bet?

On the other hand, it may be an aggressive game, with lots of raising – often reraising. Based on your poker experience, you should have a preference for what type of table you prefer. For me, it’s a loose-passive game.

Most often, preflop, you are starting with a drawing hand for which tight games are not desirable. The pot odds (or implied pot odds) are not likely to warrant calling, even with a reasonable starting-hand. After the flop, at a tight table you would need more good outs than if you were playing at a loose table.

With two very aggressive opponents at your table – expect lots of raising and reraising – it’s too costly to see the flop even with a decent drawing hand. That’s why I would much rather play in a loose-passive game.

You may not want to play when a particular dealer is dealing the cards at that table. I am inclined in that direction when one particular dealer is at my table. He often makes decisions so as to speed up the action, and neglects to call over a floor person when there is a dispute between players. Some of his fast decisions may be incorrect, but there is a more common reason for asking for a table change.

A new player comes to your table. From previous experience, you would rather not play against him. There may be many reasons; it matters not which. Don’t hesitate to get up from your table and talk to the floorman:

“I would like a table change,” you calmly say.

Do not give him any reason for your request. If need be, sit out a round or two, or take a short break from the game while waiting for your table change. That you could not do in a tournament without your blinds and antes continuing to be taken from your stacks. That would be costly.

So remember: All poker tables are not alike. It’s best to invest chips at tables that best suit you. That’s a good reason for preferring cash games over tournaments.

Next issue, we will discuss Part II: changing seats.

“The Engineer,” a noted author and teacher in Greater Los Angeles, is a member of the Seniors Poker Hall of Fame. Contact George at [email protected].

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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