The news led me to reflect on how cash differs from chips in what we inaccurately call “cash games” in poker. I came up with a list of seven things to keep in mind when it comes to casino poker games with real cash in play.
1. Rules vary, so be sure you know what is allowed
I played in some casinos where cash was not allowed in the game, in some cases cash was allowed, including tickets up to $ 1, and some with an intermediate rule. Perhaps the most common example of the latter is that bills of $ 100 are the only currency allowed. The only way to know is to ask the dealer before trying to add cash to your chips.
2. Distributors may not notice cash
I remember an incident in the poker room at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas. At that time, cash was not allowed in the game there, although I did not know that rule when this happened.
On one hand, I missed a color project but I managed a small pair. I checked. My opponent moved all-in, had a single chip of $ 1 and a bill of $ 100, and both advanced. The bill had been sitting in front of him at least several hands, but the seller had not noticed until then. He informed the player that the bill was not in play, so the all-in bet was only 1$.
The apartment was called and made the same mistake. The player was livid. I called his $ 1, although he was close to 99% sure he was losing. I had nuts, a ladder. He was ranting about how he was being ripped off $ 100. I assured him that $ 1 was almost as much as he would have called, so the mistake actually turned him into an extra dollar that he would not have otherwise got, because if his bet had been of $ 101, I would have doubled. That reassured him.
Again in the Venetian, I noticed that a player had a stack of $ 20 bills behind his chips. I do not know how long they were there before I saw them. I waited until the hand was finished, and then I told the dealer: “We should probably clarify if that cash is in play.” The dealer also had not noticed when the player had added the money to his stack. He changed it for chips, and everything was fine.
If you see another player with cash that you think might not be allowed by the rules of the house, always ask the dealer to clarify the situation.
3. Beware of doubled bills
Many players double their bills and keep them under their chips, or keep the bills vertical, hidden behind their stacks of chips.
Some are doing this innocently, just to get the money out of the way, without realizing that this can make it difficult for others to visually judge how much they have in play. But some do it deliberately, exactly for this reason. They are angle shooters. They expect you to underestimate how much they have in play, so if you call their total bet, you’re committed to a lot more money than you thought.
If you notice that another player has tickets behind or under their chips, so that they are not easily visible, you can and should politely ask the dealer to help the player organize the cash so that it is evident to all.
4. “Rathole” players charge more than chips
From time to time you will see a player remove accounts from the table, also known as “ratholing”. Very often, this is an innocent mistake made by someone who does not understand the rules of the casino. Most likely, it happens immediately after a player wins a large pot containing both chips and cash. Be on the lookout for bills, and if you see them removed from the table, be sure to point this out to the dealer so you can explain to the player how the table bets work.
Other players, however, do this with full knowledge that it is against the rules. They want to close a profit instead of keeping all their profits at stake, and it seems easier to remove some accounts from the table than the chips. If you notice that a player who once had several bills in play suddenly does not do so, again, notify the dealer so that the situation can be investigated.
5. It is easy to misjudge the size of your own stack
I have made this mistake more often than I would like to admit. I’m so used to counting piles of chips, that my brain somehow completely ignores the $ 100 bills that are right next to the chips.
Since I know I am prone to this visual error, I always try to change money for chips. You can consider doing the same.
You should see how the opponents bet, because if you face a player who makes this kind of distinction, a bet with cash is much less likely to be a bluff than a bet with chips.