What is the best answer to any question about poker? “It depends.” Yesterday we looked at the action at my home casino, the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa, and how some of the participants in the cash game I was playing were buying in for less than the table maximum (the most money you could start with). In most cases, every player was in for less than $100, not exactly the best thing to do if you want to play an optimum game. Even though it isn’t something that I would normally make a practice of, there are some reasons why you ALWAYS should buy into a cash game “short.”


Players who buy into a cash game table with less than the maximum amount state that, by buying in short, their focus is on the game. With a stack that can quickly disappear, these players believe that they make better decisions, make more optimal plays and stay away from problematic situations. This allows those players, through this better decision making, to double and even triple their initial stake.

This isn’t a crazy idea. If you’re on a $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em table with a $100 stack, you’re not going to mix it up with too many speculative hands such as suited connectors or baby pairs after someone has raised. You’re going to want to be the one who is dictating the action and, as such, getting in when your cards are good (or on one hell of a bluff). Play better cards and, normally, it will translate to bigger winnings.


This isn’t a bad idea, either. Sometimes you’re looking to get in that larger game (let’s say there’s a $2/$5 or $5/$10) and you just don’t want to sit around and wait for the seat to open. What better way to get warmed up for the bigger game than to sit down in a “friendly” $1/$2 and exercise the poker muscles a bit? The time spent at the smaller stakes table not only gives you a chance to get warmed up, it can also give you a chance to work on some plays that you might use at a higher level.


Why do most people go to a casino or poker room? For some, it is a way to make money. For others, it is simply a form of entertainment. Getting out to the casino is a way to interact with other people and, in those instances, the ability to play a game with a group of people and lose as little money as possible is what is important, not that they walk away with a double or triple up of their stack for the evening.

In the particular game I was playing at the Hard Rock, this seemed to be the driving factor:  the camaraderie. There was friendly banter among all competitors and, for the most part, there wasn’t any issues with a “bad beat” or something along those lines. It was a pleasant way to spend a few hours, as I am sure my tablemates were saying themselves when they left.

If you’re buying in short, what should you be buying in with when you sit down at a cash game? It is something that is going to be a personal preference, but $100 for a $1/$2 game is enough to get by. $50 is going to leave you a bit short on options (especially in No Limit) and any lower you’re simply putting a target on yourself. If you buy in for less than $50, you are subject to bullying by pretty much anyone on the table and you could find your chips going in on a hand that YOU didn’t dictate the proceedings.

If you’re playing something other than Limit or Texas Hold’em, then buying in short is not suggested. Whether it’s Omaha or a Stud variant, those games require that you’re betting “on the come” more than with Texas Hold’em. As such, you’ve got to have some chips at your disposal to be able to play those disciplines correctly; buying in short simply isn’t advised if you’re going to play effectively.

Whether you buy in short or for the maximum, you should always be playing your “A” game. Even if you’re an “experienced” player, there’s no point in which you should be playing a sloppy game, spewing chips without a firm idea of what you’re doing. If you’re not playing your “A” game, then it really doesn’t matter whether you buy in “short” or have a full clip of chips at your disposal.

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