All the lessons from the Poker Basics course remain relevant when playing a no limit Texas Hold'em cash game, and you should look back to refresh your memory.
In short, your decisions in the pre-flop betting round should be based on three key factors:
- Your hand strength
- Your position at the table
- Your opponents' action in front of you
HAND SELECTIONAs in all games of Texas Hold'em, be it tournament play or a cash game, you will need to categorise your starting hand. (Refresh your memory of what we mean by "monsters", "very strong hands", "speculative hands" and "trash" in the Poker Basics lesson.)
By and large, it is correct to raise with monsters and very strong hands; it is better to be more circumspect with speculative hands; and trash should be thrown away. As you get more experienced you will add other factors, but the core decision is based primarily on that list.
Therefore the risk/reward calculation changes with 100 BB stacks in a cash game. In some instances we should be happy to call pre-flop with a hand that we might ordinarily throw away. (The notion of "pot odds" is discussed in more depth later.) You can afford to call and miss with speculative hands like smaller pocket pairs and suited connectors against raises, knowing that you will fold if you miss.
Your decision will need to take into account the effective stack size, as discussed in the last lesson.
If your assumption is correct and the tight player has a big pair like or it will be tough for him to get away from his hand on a flop like . You are very likely to be able to get the maximum amount of chips in the pot.
In later stages of tournaments, play like this this simply doesn't work. You usually play with a shallow stack, where fancy moves can cost you your tournament life. That is not true in a cash game, where the small investment pre-flop can grow into a big one if you hit the right flop.