Sitting down to play in an online NLHE cash game

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Sitting down in an online NLHE cash game in either six max or full ring is a lot different to doing so in a live game. There are a multitude of differences between live games and online cash games but let us first explore the strategic implications of an online NLHE cash game with a 100bb maximum buy-in.

Firstly, a 100bb stack is not a deep stack and so let us dispel that myth straight away. It is merely the stack size that most online card rooms allow you to buy-in for and no more.

It is a stack that isn’t shallow or deep and so we can define a 100bb stack as a middling stack. If there has been a raise and a 3-bet and call pre-flop that doesn’t involve the blinds then there will be circa 20bb-25bb in the pot by the flop with each opponent having around 88bb-90bb left on the table with a 100bb starting stack. A pot sized bet and call will leave the pot around the 60bb-75bb mark with effective stacks of only the size of the pot with two full betting rounds to go.

So it should be clear that it doesn’t take much to get all in with a 100bb stack and so you need to be careful before you escalate the pot in NLHE. This is why getting all in with K-K pre-flop isn’t such a great proposition against tight players with 100bb+ stacks. You are now hoping that your opponent has Q-Q or is getting out of line with a hand like A-Ks or is attempting some wacky bluff. You simply don’t have much room to manoeuvre post flop with stacks of this size.

So it is clear then that how much you raise to pre-flop or 3/bet or in fact whether you should perform these actions at all are critical poker decisions. When you 3-bet pre-flop then you should only be doing so for value or to bluff. This means that you should be value 3-betting your strong hands and 3-betting with the weaker parts of your range and calling with the rest of your playable hands. You need to get used to the fact that the average stack size in NLHE cash games is going to be shorter than what it is in a comparable live game and then adjust accordingly.

It is common knowledge that a short stack strategy involves being tight and that playing with a deep stack against other deep stacks involves much looser overall play. However a 100bb starting stack is sort of like a hybrid between these two extremes and should be treated as such. If your skills and advantage over your opponent happens post flop then it is in your interests to see as many flops as possible while giving yourself the greatest possible room to manoeuvre. These dynamics will get you a solid edge against opponents that do not understand the dynamic of a 100bb starting stack.