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Some Cash Game Thoughts Continued

by Roy Winston |  Published: Mar 26, '08


(Continued from yesterday)
When playing last year's WPT event in Niagara Falls I met one such player. He was a nice kid, only 19 years old, which is the legal age in Canada, and he had run a couple of thousand to half a million over the last few months while playing on line. He wound up in our live game which was a 50-100 No Limit Holdem game. Through the course of the week he had to of lost at least half if not all of his winnings back. He wasn't a bad player, and did have a certain amount of skill and instinct for the game, but he had moved up way too fast. The game had Barry Greenstein, Mike Matusow, and four or five other world class players in it. He was eaten alive, and never saw it coming.

So now you have decided which game to play and are deciding how much to buy in for. I adjust my buy in amount based on the size of the other stacks, how much risk I am willing to accept, and the strategy I am employing during that session. For instance towards the end on the LA poker classic sat in the big No Limit game which was 100-200 with a 500 ante on the button. Truth be told, I felt slightly out of my comfort zone there, but in the game were some of the more "live" (live = horrible, or good for the game) players ever seen. I bought in for the minimum, which was 30k. Several of the players had stacks well in excess of 150k. Playing this relatively short stack strategy allowed me several advantages. One being my risk was more limited than others at the table, and that with some of the pots having 6-12k in pre flop it allowed me to go all in and not have to face big decisions on the turn or river. It also limited other player's ability to get implied odds on me. When I'm the big stack in a smaller game I often abandon a pot against a short stack because they can't pay me off say for instance when a spike a set with a small pair, having called a substantial pre-flop raise. Playing short stack is sometimes easier because you face fewer decisions. Marginal hands are easily folded, and premium hands are most often played in a more straight forward fashion than you might with a deep stack. Unlike a tournament, the blinds and antes aren't increasing, so you are not forced to play hands, although $800 each round was somewhat expensive.

I have seen several very good players use a short stack strategy in a big game where others are very deep. In fact in that same game at Falls View in Canada, Barry Greenstein bought in relatively short and in many of his sessions he ran his stack up significantly. Others like to be deep relative to the others at the table, having everyone covered. I like this strategy in most games I play in for several reasons. I was playing at the Wynn last week in a 10-20 NLH game and there was one player at the table who had bought in the day before for around 2k and ran it up to almost 30k. When I sat down I bought in for about half that amount, but soon realized that if an opportunity should arise where having him covered could bring me all his chips then I wanted to have the ammo to make it happen. The other side of that is I am putting more of my money at risk, however I felt like I was the favorite and he was playing somewhat tired and sloppy. So my advice would be to buy in for closer to the minimum end of things as you move up in games until you feel comfortable, then expand your buy in as you see fit. Hopefully with a minimum buy you soon become a deep stack at the table.

The next phase of game selection I would like to address briefly, is who you playing against. Sometimes there is no choice, and there is only one game with a wait to get in. Other times there may be several games that are open and picking the "right" one can be part of having a winning session. For instance, one table you are looking at has several players that you know to be solid and sometimes cause you trouble, while another table has an easier line up. Unfortunately, it is usually not such an easy decision but it still pays to examine your options.

The Oracle

Roy Winston finished 16th in 2007 Card Player, Player of the Year race. He won the WPT Borgata Poker Open and finished the year with well over $2 million in tournament poker winnings. Roy plays online exclusively at Full Tilt. For more information on Roy Winston, you can visit his website: or send an email to: with your questions or comments. The contents presented herein on this blog are purely the opinions of Roy Winston, and are not intended to reflect or promote the opinions of any other person, group, or entity. If you like what I write than thanks for reading, and if not well, thanks anyway.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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