I have finally hit the wall on the variance of tournament play. While I had some real nice successes during the past 18 months, my overall bankroll did not change much at all. This is the nature of tournament play and I think very few tournament players actually have positive cashflow from tournaments.
I am mainly playing 6 max NLHE these days with fairly good success. I thought I would outline a few of the key changes in your game that you need to adapt going from tournament play to cash games.
1. Tight is Right. Tournament play dictates that you play more hands, especially late in the tournament when luck becomes more of a factor. In cash games, you maintain a much more disciplined approach throughout a session. This does not mean that you do not play suited connectors or A9 at times. I will often raise with those hands in late position to try to take the blinds.
2. AK is a Much Weaker Hand. AK is a hand to play cautiously. Yes you raise preflop and you should still reraise a raiser, but be prepared to get away from the hand that pushes or puts in a third raise against your AK. NL cash games tend to be tight affairs, especially if you are playing against a good player. There are donks that will bluff and pay off your good hands, but if a good player or a TAG player triple raises you pre or raises you on the flop when you have TPTK, you are probably toast. Don't fight to the death with this hand, save your chips for when you pick-up trips, a hidden two pair or hidden straight.
3. Most of your Win $ Come from Big Hands. Patience is the key to good NL cash game play, even at a 6 handed table. Yes you play a few more starting hands in 6 max, but generally your win rate will still come from big hands. One of the benefits of 6 max tables is that less experienced players rarely think you have a monster hand when you do. This is especially true if you often put in continuation bets. Bet and raise with your big hands because you will often get paid off. Most of my win percentage comes from trip hands with pocket pairs. I will almost always call a pre-flop raise with a pocket pair because your EV is so high when you do catch trips 11% of the time.
4. Tight Exception - Figure out the Bluffers and Call them Down. It is amazing to me how many players bluff in low and mid limit 6 max cash games. I guess it is the cowboy image of poker, but you can quickly figure out who these players are. Then you can call them down with a strong pair, raise them with two pair or better. Occassionally, you will get burned by this strategy but more often than not it will pay you off nicely.
5. Avoid Pots with Very Good Players. it is hard to avoid playing at tables with good players because there are so few seats available at a time. However, you can play those tables just avoid mixing it up with those good player unless you have a very strong hand. Really good players rarely end up with a lot of chips in the pot and a losing hand. Don't pay them off with good but not great hands like middle two pair. You are better off saving your chips for another spot.