You know what I’m talking about right? Players coming to a cash game straight from a recent bust out of a tournament often don’t have their head in the right place. Even if they aren’t tilted it is hard to make the adjustments necessary. Here’s a few things they aren’t considering in the transition between tournament and cash.
The majority of players busting from the tournament are doing so at a stage where the stacks have gotten much shallower. The player was seeing flops where the stack to pot ratio (SPR) was typically quite low. SPR is probably a familiar concept for you but lets just define it so that we are on the same page. Don’t even think of this as poker math, this is poker common sense.
SPR = effective stack size divided by pot size on flop.
What we are going to talk about is why SPR tends to be lower in tournaments than in cash games, and why it matters.
In tournaments, stacks are generally getting shallower (the # of big blinds you have decreases) because the rate of increase of the blinds is faster than the rate of growth of the stacks of the surviving players. Think of these tournaments with a good but not amazing structure. By the time the blinds have doubled twice you probably haven’t even lost a third of the field of players. Then the antes kick in, so the pot (the P part of the SPR which is the denominator) is bloated before anyone even looks at their cards. So when you get to the flop in your typical tournament situation the SPR is going to be lower than in a typical cash game where the blinds don’t increase and there is no ante.
The danger is that they got used to that tournament mentality and don’t adjust back when they sit down in the cash game
So why does this matter? Here are some of the consequences. Getting “coolered” by the flop is a way bigger deal when the SPR is high. Suppose you raise with KK, get called by a pair of 7s and the flop comes T97. When you get to the flop and the SPR is low there is a good chance the money is just going to go in. There isn’t room for maneuvering. Good game, bad luck! On to the next game. In those situations with a low SPR the person with the KK is rightfully thinking i need to protect my hand against this draw heavy board and if he’s got me he’s got me. By the time he bets for value/protection and meets resistance there is so much in the pot relative to stack sizes that folding is rarely going to be an option. If on the other hand the SPR is high, it is entirely reasonable that the player with KK is going to try to navigate carefully and attempt to avoid stacking off. If you are routinely stacking off 100bb+ stacks with one pair hands you are going to struggle. In contrast if you started with 25bbs and there were antes as well, the SPR is so low on the flop you are not typically looking for reasons to fold your overpairs.
The danger is that they got used to that tournament mentality and don’t adjust back when they sit down in the cash game. In the cash game it doesn’t cost you much to wait for bigger hands and better flops to play your big pots. Slow down, and shift gears back down to the much slower pace required for cash game success.