Texas holdem cash games and tournaments are both based on the same base
rules, but you need to adjust your play in certain ways to maximize your chances
of success at each variation.
The following quiz covers different situations in Texas holdem cash games.
Each question and answer is designed to broaden and strengthen your thought
process when deciding how to play.
Make sure you read each quiz question and answer completely and think about
how you can use the same information in other situations. It’s also a good idea
to consider how these situations are related to your current abilities in
comparison to how they related to your abilities a year ago or earlier in your
Think back to how you considered or played these situations when you were
learning to play and how things have changed over time. This can help you use
the same things you learn here in the future as you learn more and your game
Quiz Question 1
What’s the proper bankroll for a limit Texas holdem cash game player?
50 times the big blind
100 times the big blind
200 times the big blind
300 times the big blind
Quiz Question 2
What’s the proper bankroll for a no limit Texas holdem cash game player?
5 times the maximum buy in
10 times the maximum buy in
20 times the maximum buy in
30 times the maximum buy in
Quiz Question 3
You’re in the big blind in a no limit Texas holdem cash game and the first
player to enter the pot moved all in. Everyone else folded and you have the
three of hearts and the three of clubs. Normally this would be an easy fold, but
just before you act your opponent drops her cards and you see she has the ace
and king of spades. This means that you have a small edge with a 50.33% chance
to win. What do you do?
Quiz Question 4
You’re playing in a no limit Texas holdem cash game with pocket aces. Four of
your opponents are all in, meaning that you’ll only win around 40% of the time
depending on their exact hands. You’re last to act, what should you do?
Quiz Question 5
You’re in the same situation as in quiz question 4 and each player is all in
for $100 each. If you call, what is your expected value in the hand? Assume the
blinds are the exact amount of the rake so the pot size is $500 with your call
and you win 40% of the time.
Quiz Question 6
You’re playing in a limit Texas holdem game with pocket kings and the pot has
been raised and re-raised before the flop. It’s your turn to act. What should
Quiz Question 7
You’re in the same situation as in quiz question 6 but you have pocket
jacks. What should you do?
Quiz Question 8
You’ve always been a no limit Texas holdem tournament player and want to
start playing cash games. What’s the biggest difference between tournaments and
cash game play?
The required bankroll
The aggressiveness of the players
You don’t have to worry about busting out so you can push small edges
You can bluff more
You have to bluff less
Quiz Question 9
When choosing a cash game table, which of the following is the most important
thing to look for?
A table with the best players possible
A table with the worst players possible
Any empty seat will do as long as it’s at the limit you want to play
One with the highest limits in the house
One with the lowest limits in the room
Quiz Answer 1
Many popular books suggest a bankroll of 200 times the big blind. Like most
things in Texas holdem, just giving a static answer can be dangerous. A more
realistic answer is that it depends.
If you’re not a winning player, or at least a break even player, it doesn’t
matter how big your bankroll is. And if you’re a top player with a consistent
winning record you might not need a bankroll as big as other players.
Your bankroll serves two equally important functions.
The first is to let you enter and play Texas holdem games. If you can’t play
you can’t win. So your bankroll is the most important thing you have as a poker
player. You must protect it as if it were your life.
The second function of your bankroll is to be large enough so you can survive
the normal downs and ups of the game. Even the best players have losing sessions
and streaks. The mathematical nature of Texas holdem guarantees that even the
best players hit their draws the exact same percentage of the time as losing
players when holding the same hands.
Winning Texas holdem players ten to understand that if they make the right
play more times than not it means that in the long run they’re going to win. The
outcome of the current situation doesn’t matter, so they don’t stress over
You’re playing in a limit Texas holdem game with pocket kings and have been
betting and raising the entire hand. Your opponent has been calling with the ace
and queen of clubs before the flop, on the flop with two clubs, and on the turn.
They draw out on the river hitting their flush.
For inexperienced players this can be frustrating but experienced players
know they played the hand correctly and in the long run this situation is
profitable. All you can do is put your money in when you’re a favorite and be
glad when you find an opponent willing to chase.
But as you’re learning to be a winning player you need to be comfortable
enough with your bankroll amount that you don’t have to worry about it while
playing. If you ever find yourself thinking about your bankroll while playing
you need to stop and evaluate your situation. The odds are that if this happens
your bankroll isn’t big enough.
We mentioned earlier in this section that the best players might not need a
bankroll as big as other players. While this is true, the fact is the best
players ten to have larger bankrolls than anyone else. They understand that in
order to maximize their wins they need enough money to push every edge as much
If they have even a 1 or 2% edge they want to bet as much as possible without
risking their ability to continue playing. The larger the size of their bankroll
the more they can risk in tight situations without risking too much.
When you take all of this into account we recommend having at least a 300
times the big blind bankroll for limit Texas holdem players. If you can have
more it’s even better.
Though it’s often overlooked, there’s another reason a large bankroll is
important. It gives you more flexibility when it comes to table selection.
If you walk into a large poker room and see a game at a larger limit than you
normally play filled with players you know you’re better than you can’t play if
you’re under bankrolled. But if you have a large enough bankroll you can take
advantage of the situation.
You normally play 30 /60 limit Texas holdem and have a bankroll of $20,000.
This is a little over 300 times the big blind, but you like having the extra
When you get to the poker room you see a 50 / 100 game with three players you
play with often who you have a decided edge against, three players you don’t
know, and a good player. You can easily take a seat in the game because you have
200 times the big blind.
Once you sit down you may learn the three players you don’t know are great
players and after playing for a while decide to move to your normal game, but
more than likely you won’t have any problem in the game. You might find that
you’re ready to move up full time.
Even if you only had an $18,000 bankroll you could sit in the larger game.
180 times the big blind is on the smaller side, but it’s enough to play a single
session. If you have a terrible session and lose 10 big blinds you’re still in
good shape when you switch back to your normal 30 / 60 game.
But if you only have a $12,000 bankroll the 50 / 100 game can put a large
dent in it if you have a bad run. Losing 12 big blinds depletes 10% of your
You need to evaluate your bankroll after every playing session. If you’re on
an extended down swing don’t hesitate to move down a level until you turn it
around. Move down to 20 / 40 for a while if you usually play 30 / 60. Remember
you have to protect your bankroll at all costs.
Quiz Answer 2
For most of the same reasons we covered in the answer to the first quiz
question you should try to have at least 30 times the buy in for no limit Texas
So if you usually play a game with a $1,000 buy in you need at
Having a large bankroll is even more important in no limit play than limit
play because the swings are often larger. You can easily get all in as a
favorite and get drawn out on. This can happen three or four or more times in a
row before the percentages start correcting your way.
When you advance to a level where you’re winning on a consistent basis you
need to develop a plan for building your bankroll and taking profit from your
play out. While you need to take profit out to live on, remember that protecting
your bankroll is the most important thing you can do.
Here’s a simple system you can use to take profit and grow your bankroll
while protecting it.
At the end of every month look at your bankroll in comparison to the previous
month. In any month you have less you take nothing out. You don’t take anything
out until your bankroll is higher than what you started the month with.
Leave a set percentage of any amount over your starting bankroll in to make a
higher bankroll amount and take a set percentage of the overage out as profit.
You can set these percentages at whatever you want and you can just them as you
gain experience. But we suggest not changing them until after you make your
deductions for the month. In other words, if you change your percentages change
them moving forward for the next month.
Start with 50% of the overage to your bankroll and 50% to profit and see how
Here’s an example of how this can work over four months.
You’re playing no limit Texas holdem with a bankroll of $30,000 and you
usually play a $1,000 buy in game.
At the end of the first month you have $36,000 so you leave $3,000 in your
bankroll and take $3,000 out as profit. So your new bankroll amount is $33,000.
At the end of the second month you only have $32,000 so you don’t take
You have a good month in the third month and end the month with $40,000. You
need to go back to the $33,000 bankroll at the beginning of the previous month,
so you have an overage of $7,000. After taking $3,500 out as profit this leaves
your new bankroll at $36,500. At this point you decide to adjust your
percentages moving forward to leaving 25% to grow your bankroll an take 75% out
This is based on the fact that you’re comfortable at the $1,000 buy in level
and want to grow your bankroll but aren’t anxious to move up to the next level
any time soon. If moving up to the next level is important to you the
percentages might be switched. You might leave 75% in your bankroll and only
take 25% as profit.
At the end of the fourth month you have $40,500 so you leave $1,000 in your
bankroll and take $3,000 as profit. This makes your new bankroll amount $37,500.
Looking at the four month totals you’ve been able to grow your bankroll by
$7,500 and you’ve taken $9,500 in profit. This is a nice accomplishment,
especially considering that you had a losing month.
Quiz Answer 3
On the surface this doesn’t look like it has anything to do with the size of
your bankroll, but it has everything to do with it.
If you have a large enough
bankroll you can easily make this call because in the long run this is a
positive expectation situation.
But in the short run you’re going to lose almost as often as you win. If your
bankroll is too small you may be forced to fold and wait for a larger edge in
order to protect your ability to continue playing.
To be a winning Texas holdem player you need to play in positive expectation
situations and avoid playing in negative expectation ones.
Let’s determine the expectation in this situation.
If you play this situation 1,000 times you’ll win roughly 503 times and lose
497 times. If the amount you call is $1,000 your total investment over 1,000
hands is $1,000,000. The 503 times you win you get back your $1,000 and win your
opponent’s $1,000. This totals $1,006,000 making a profit of $6,000 over 1,000
This gives you a positive expectation of $6 per hand. In other words you win
on average $6 every time you make this call. You determine this by dividing the
$6,000 profit by the 1,000 hands you play.
In a normal investment risking $1,000 to win $6 may not be advisable, but in
the long run the percentages always work out exactly how they’re supposed to so
if your bankroll can stand the swings you make this call every time.
One thing that professional players often do in this situation is ask their
opponent if they want to run the hand twice. This is a way to reduce your
variance while maintaining your long term edge. You’ll find that most of the
times you run the hand twice in this situation you’ll end up winning one and
losing the other.
Quiz Answer 4
This is an easy call based on the positive expectation of the situation.
We’ll cover the exact calculations in the next quiz answer, but any time you can
win 40% of the time and face two or more opponents you need to get your money in
the pot as quickly as possible.
Pocket aces are a big favorite against any single hand before the flop but as
you face more opponents your percentage chance of winning goes down. And it can
be depressing to lose more often than you win with such a strong hand, but when
you win you get enough to more than make up for the times you lose.
Though this page is about Texas holdem cash games, it’s interesting to
consider the same situation in a tournament. In a cash game you can easily buy
back in as long as your bankroll allows you to do so. But in a tournament you’re
in a situation where you have a strictly limited number of chips.
This means if you lose the hand you may be knocked out of the tournament.
But you still need to make the call in this situation, even if you get
knocked out 60% of the time.
The 40% of the time you win you’ve basically
increased your stack by four times, putting you in such a strong position that
you stand a good chance of going deep into the tournament and possibly winning.
The exact numbers depend on many variables including the level you’re
currently in in the tournament, how close you are to the bubble, and the prize
amounts, but there’s no doubt when you win the hand it increases your average
win amount in the tournament more than enough to make up for busting out the
In other words this is clearly a positive expectation situation in every
Quiz Answer 5
Determining the positive expectation is usually easier if you consider what
happens if you play the exact same situation 100 times. You calculate how much
you have to invest, how much you win when you win, and then divide by 100 to get
an average win.
In this hand if you play it 100 times your total investment is $10,000. When
you win you get back $500. Because you win 40 times out of 100 it means your
total win over 100 hands is $20,000. This leaves a profit of $10,000 after you
subtract your $10,000 investment.
Once you divide this by 100 you get a positive expectation of $100. This
means you win on average $100 every time you make the call.
40 times out of every 100 you win $500 and 60 times out of 100 you lose $100.
Quiz Answer 6
With pocket kings you need to bet and raise in every situation in a limit
Texas holdem game until it’s clear you’re losing. Kings are the second best
starting hand so the odds are strong that you have the best hand.
The only hand better is pocket aces and the only hands that stand even a
decent chance are ones with an ace. You’re still a strong favorite against a
hand with a single ace, so you need to play the hand as if you have the best
hand until the board shows you it’s time to slow down.
Your hand is so strong that even if an ace lands on the flop you should stay
in the hand.
You can switch from betting and raising to checking and calling if
you think there’s a strong chance an opponent has an ace, but by this time the
pot odds are strong enough that you shouldn’t fold.
The only way you should consider folding pocket kings after the flop is if
the board is dangerous and you’re facing two or more opponents who are betting
and raising. If you’re in a multi way pot after the flop and your opponents
aren’t being aggressive you should remain in the pot.
In a no limit Texas holdem game you need to consider the pot odds and danger
of the board because the bets can be much larger, but in a limit game the kings
are good enough to see the show down against a single opponent.
Quiz Answer 7
Pocket jacks aren’t nearly as strong as pocket kings. They’re dominated by
pocket aces, kings, or queens, and are close to a toss-up against ace king, ace
queen, and even king queen.
In a limit game they’re usually still good enough to make a call in this
situation, but you’re going to need to lay them down after the flop most of the
time. Even if the flop doesn’t have a card higher than a 10 if an opponent is
betting and raising you may still be behind. Any flop with an ace is
If you know the two opponents who are betting an raising before the flop an
know they tend to only raise with their best hands you can consider folding
before the flop. This is a rather tight play, but it may be the most profitable
one in the long run.
In a no limit game this is usually a fairly easy fold. The danger of calling
in a no limit Texas holdem game is the player that made the first raise might
move all in behind you.
Quiz Answer 8
As long as you have the proper bankroll, as we discussed in the first two
quiz questions and answers, the answer is you don’t have to worry about busting
out so you can push small edged more than most tournament players do.
Looking at the other possible answers, the aggressiveness of the players is
similar between Texas holdem cash games and tournaments and the bankroll
requirements are similar. Some players believe you can bluff more in tournaments
because of the added danger of busting out, but the best players don’t have to
bluff too often in either situation.
Bluffing successfully has more to do with the specific situation and the
players involved than if it’s done in a tournament or a ring game.
Quiz Answer 9
Choosing a good table is important to your long term profit in Texas holdem.
Many things should go into your decision when considering your options, but the
most important thing is to find a table that you can beat.
This means the most important thing is to look for a table filled with poor
Most Texas holdem cash game players simply grab the first seat available
close to the limit they want to play. But most holdem players also lose more
than they win over the long term.
If you start playing in games where the majority of players are worse than
you the long term profits you show will instantly improve. This is so important
that it’s often the sole difference between a winning and losing player.
Some players say they want to play against the best players because it helps
them play better. While this may or may not be true, the fact is that it’s a
costly lesson even if it works.
It’s easy to see that if you only play against better players that you’re
going to lose. And if you only play against worse players you’re going to win.
You always want to choose being the big fish in the small pond if you can.
Most tables have a mixture of players with some being better than you, some
being worse, and some being about the same. In this case you want the table with
the poorest players so you have the best chance of winning. You also need to
recognize who the best players are so you can play carefully when facing them.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play against the best players at the table,
but you should know that you need better hands when you ace them on average than
when you’re in a hand against weaker competition.
If you want to be the best Texas holdem cash game player possible you need to
learn as much as you can about the game. One of your goals should be to be a
lifelong student of Texas holdem.
Reading and thinking about the answers in quizzes like this one are one of
the best ways to keep learning. Most players read a quiz, scan for the answer,
and then move on. They never stop to think about how to apply what they learned
to the rest of their game or other situations.
Don’t go through life with these types of blinders on. Take a few more
minutes and read over the answers again. Your bankroll will thank you for it.
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