Has anyone successfully lowered the stakes in a cash game? (1 Viewer)

TheYeti

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The .25/.50 cash game I host has gotten a little out of hand over the last year or so. Last night was kind of the final straw. Usually, we will see a big winner or loser of maybe $200-$300, but last night the big winner was up over $900 and I was down over $1K. We are seeing pre-flop 3x bets of $10 or more and re-raises in the $50-$60 range. To me, this is no longer a friendly .25/.50 game.

Our max buy in is $100 with match half the big stack. I am considering lowering the stakes to .25/.25 with $50 max and no match the stack. Is this even possible? Will the players just buy in more often and play the same? Or, will they actually adapt to the new stakes and play "smaller"?
 
Leave the $100 max, get rid of the match the stack type rebuy option. Leave all rebuys at $100 max and the game will be fine. Blinds don’t matter, stacks do. As the stacks get bigger, so do the bets. If they don’t then any 2 cards are playable because the implied odds are worth it.

Also ban straddles if you have them now. It artificially inflates the size of the game.
 
I almost sounds like your group wants to play a bigger game than a smaller one. If there are pre-flop bets to $10 in a .25/.50 game it's definitely not a "friendly" game and your player pool wants to gamble or play for stacks.

My guess is if you lower the stakes/buy-in, you will see similar jams but with more frequent rebuys and add-ons until the amount of money in play gets to where you are now.


I don't know how one might go about trying to reel that behavior in. I am curious to see what others suggest or what they have done that works.
 
Leave the $100 max, get rid of the match the stack type rebuy option. Leave all rebuys at $100 max and the game will be fine. Blinds don’t matter, stacks do. As the stacks get bigger, so do the bets. If they don’t then any 2 cards are playable because the implied odds are worth it.

Also ban straddles if you have them now. It artificially inflates the size of the game.
This. Also, are you overreacting because you’re the one who lost over 2000 big blinds (not judging, been there myself many times)? you don’t have to match half the big stack just because you can, also you can play tighter.
 
I almost sounds like your group wants to play a bigger game than a smaller one. If there are pre-flop bets to $10 in a .25/.50 game it's definitely not a "friendly" game and your player pool wants to gamble or play for stacks.

My guess is if you lower the stakes/buy-in, you will see similar jams but with more frequent rebuys and add-ons until the amount of money in play gets to where you are now.


I don't know how one might go about trying to reel that behavior in. I am curious to see what others suggest or what they have done that works.

Agreed, and this will cause even more variance. if you’re a good player, you want the variance to be as little as possible.
 
playing pot limit preflop will also reduce the size of the pots (assuming playing NL hold’em).

The only problem with this is that everyone only bets pot then preflop.
My “regular” game for the last 20 years is .25/.25 or .25/.50 pot limit, $2 max open. It plays much smaller than I’d prefer, but it rarely gets wild. This is what my life long friends and brother want, so I embrace it. It’s more of a social game than good poker, but still fun.
 
Do you have room for 2 tables?

I'd host 1 table of .25/.50 max $100 buy-in (no stack matching) and a 2nd table of $1/$3 max $500 buy-in.

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Or If only room for 1 table, i'd poll the players and host the big game opposite the smaller game every other week. Players can join the game that fits for them. In this instance you could totally get away with lowering the stakes on one of the games by offering new stakes altogether.

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Lastly, It's totally fine to host and not play... permanent dealer status if the game is getting too big but the players like your setup and player pool.
 
Leave the $100 max, get rid of the match the stack type rebuy option. Leave all rebuys at $100 max and the game will be fine. Blinds don’t matter, stacks do. As the stacks get bigger, so do the bets. If they don’t then any 2 cards are playable because the implied odds are worth it.

Also ban straddles if you have them now. It artificially inflates the size of the game.

Thanks!

Already planning on getting rid of all my promotions that are meant to encourage players to play looser; straddles, bomb pots, 7/2 bounty, match 1/2 big stack. As well as adding quite a few new players over the last year, my old crew seems to have evolved to a group that does not need any incentive to play "looser". lol

I almost sounds like your group wants to play a bigger game than a smaller one. If there are pre-flop bets to $10 in a .25/.50 game it's definitely not a "friendly" game and your player pool wants to gamble or play for stacks.

My guess is if you lower the stakes/buy-in, you will see similar jams but with more frequent rebuys and add-ons until the amount of money in play gets to where you are now.


I don't know how one might go about trying to reel that behavior in. I am curious to see what others suggest or what they have done that works.

That's my guess as well, they may just rebuy more often and play exactly the same.

This. Also, are you overreacting because you’re the one who lost over 2000 big blinds (not judging, been there myself many times)? you don’t have to match half the big stack just because you can, also you can play tighter.

Possibly I'm overreacting. But this has been an increasing problem over the last year or so. I've recruited quite a few new players who are obviously used to playing in bigger games.

My “regular” game for the last 20 years is .25/.25 or .25/.50 pot limit, $2 max open. It plays much smaller than I’d prefer, but it rarely gets wild. This is what my life long friends and brother want, so I embrace it. It’s more of a social game than good poker, but still fun.

Is your game NL with a $2 max open? Can you detail how it works after that?

Do you have room for 2 tables?

I'd host 1 table of .25/.50 max $100 buy-in (no stack matching) and a 2nd table of $1/$3 max $500 buy-in.

---

Or If only room for 1 table, i'd poll the players and host the big game opposite the smaller game every other week. Players can join the game that fits for them. In this instance you could totally get away with lowering the stakes on one of the games by offering new stakes altogether.

---

Lastly, It's totally fine to host and not play... permanent dealer status if the game is getting too big but the players like your setup and player pool.

I do not have room for two tables. I've hosted two tables in the past and really wouldn't want to do it again. Too hard to host and play at that point.

We only play once a month, and everybody always wants to play regardless of stakes! They're a bunch degens, for sure. Maybe I'm just trying to minimize my own losses, because to be honest, I may really suck at poker. :)
 
Thanks!

Already planning on getting rid of all my promotions that are meant to encourage players to play looser; straddles, bomb pots, 7/2 bounty, match 1/2 big stack. As well as adding quite a few new players over the last year, my old crew seems to have evolved to a group that does not need any incentive to play "looser". lol



That's my guess as well, they may just rebuy more often and play exactly the same.



Possibly I'm overreacting. But this has been an increasing problem over the last year or so. I've recruited quite a few new players who are obviously used to playing in bigger games.



Is your game NL with a $2 max open? Can you detail how it works after that?



I do not have room for two tables. I've hosted two tables in the past and really wouldn't want to do it again. Too hard to host and play at that point.

We only play once a month, and everybody always wants to play regardless of stakes! They're a bunch degens, for sure. Maybe I'm just trying to minimize my own losses, because to be honest, I may really suck at poker. :)

Not that there’s anything wrong with you, the host, changing things up but those players may simply choose to play in another game. Imagine if you suddenly said all games moving forward will be 1/2 limit.

Also ban straddles if you have them now. It artificially inflates the size of the game.

As an action player myself I don’t think this accomplishes anything. I can dead $6 or $10 open every hand. I don’t need last action to make nits uncomfortable. I think the real issue is the number of players at your game who will call a dead $6 or $10 even if your blinds are 0.25/0.50. Or 3 bet me to $55.
 
Your game sounds like a 2/3 game lol just go up to 1/2 or 2/3 for 1 game and see how it works/feels
 
Not that there’s anything wrong with you, the host, changing things up but those players may simply choose to play in another game. Imagine if you suddenly said all games moving forward will be 1/2 limit.



As an action player myself I don’t think this accomplishes anything. I can dead $6 or $10 open every hand. I don’t need last action to make nits uncomfortable. I think the real issue is the number of players at your game who will call a dead $6 or $10 even if your blinds are 0.25/0.50. Or 3 bet me to $55.

Agree, but as a straddler it is easier to inflate pots in general with straddles. If there are a bunch of limps of the $1 straddle, your now $15 bet and a few calls makes for an even bigger pot on the flop than a $6 open with a few calls.

Gamblers will gamble if that is what they want to do.
 
Degens like to play like they’re ballers, but want lotto ticket price entry points.

The moment you make the barrier of entry more money, you’ll get less 4-5 way post flop action.

Raising the blinds will definitely start making the 9/3o hands get mucked preflop.

Versus the 9/3o calling $1 to gamble a flop against premiums….

Or maybe your players are like my players and they will chase and HIT fucking gutters on the river after I bet the farm at them……. :ROFL: :ROFLMAO: :wtf:
 
Count me as +1 for disliking any "match the stack" rules because this is what happens. Half the stack match is better, but still leaves room for the sort of escalation described in the OP.

Your starting max is already 200BB, that's plenty deep, no need to allow buy ins for more than that from where I sit.

If players complain it's too hard to get even after sticking themselves for 2 buy ins, well tell them to stop doing that.

I think his one change takes care of the escalation, and I see this isn't just about your most recent loss. You aren't comfortable with how this escalation has effected others.

I wouldn't be so quick to make a bunch of changes at once, that might be too much too quick for your group. Really, I think the flexible cap is what's causing the issue more than the 7-2 game.

Start with getting rid of the flexible cap.
 
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I think capping buy in at $100 is reasonable but I would keep the extras: 7/2, standup, high hand, bomb pots. The one issue you may run into here is if you get chasers like me. If I’m stuck 4 buy ins and I’m capped at 1 rebuy in no matter what I’m just going to leave. I recall I haven’t been back to @TheRealTeddyKGB ’s game since that day about a year ago.
 
Count me as +1 for disliking any "match the stack" rules because this is what happens. Half the stack match is better, but still leaves room for the sort of escalation described in the OP.
I like this idea. It should help to de-escalate your game without changing much of anything else. @Godzilla28 let me rebuy for 8000bb last game and admittedly that may have been unwise.
 
I like this idea. It should help to de-escalate your game without changing much of anything else. @Godzilla28 let me rebuy for 8000bb last game and admittedly that may have been unwise.
To be clear, the original post indicates they do use the half the stack match rule presently. I would advocate for getting rid of that.
 
playing pot limit preflop will also reduce the size of the pots (assuming playing NL hold’em).

The only problem with this is that everyone only bets pot then preflop.
Why not make the entire game pot limit? Ever played it? PL HE is actually a great (and highly underrated) cash game* - on the earlier streets it often plays more like a hybrid fixed limit game, and when pots swell it gets more into NLHE land.
*But sucks balls as a tournament format.

The .25/.50 cash game I host has gotten a little out of hand over the last year or so.
I sympathize. The game it seems has evolved into something you don't enjoy or are uncomfortable playing in. As host, that sucks. I've (kind of) been there.

You basically have a few choices:
  • Live with how the game has progressed. If you were stuck a grand last night, you may have ran bad or maybe you didn't play so well - but irrespective of how the cards treated you, you choose to be in for that much by reloading. As host, you're under no obligation to stay in a game when you're stuck past your stop loss, even if it breaks the game early. Personally, I host a lot and there have been a time or three where I was down so much on the night that it was time to stop playing. In those instances, I'd simply offer to deal or just sit off to the side until the game broke.
  • Make adjustments to the game to limit players' abilities to 'artificially' inflate the stakes. Many solid suggestions have been made in this thread.
  • Stop inviting the players that are bloating the stakes. If your player pool is strong enough, you should be able to take those players off your mailing list.
  • Stop hosting for a while. You haven't indicated why you choose to host poker games. But if the enjoyment isn't there, take a break. The itch will strike you again sooner or later.
Remember, it's your game. Run it as you see fit.
 
Limit the pre flop to a number that will muck crappy hands and pot limit thereafter. When I host cash games with my close friends blinds are .15/.30 with a pot limit. We play for 4 or 5 hours and nobody loses more than $30.
 
The .25/.50 cash game I host has gotten a little out of hand over the last year or so. Last night was kind of the final straw. Usually, we will see a big winner or loser of maybe $200-$300, but last night the big winner was up over $900 and I was down over $1K. We are seeing pre-flop 3x bets of $10 or more and re-raises in the $50-$60 range. To me, this is no longer a friendly .25/.50 game.

Our max buy in is $100 with match half the big stack. I am considering lowering the stakes to .25/.25 with $50 max and no match the stack. Is this even possible? Will the players just buy in more often and play the same? Or, will they actually adapt to the new stakes and play "smaller"?

I am of the opinion that players drive the action, i.e., how big a game plays by their bet sizing and how much they are willing to lose. Having multiple players calling $10 to see the flop or who are willing to 4-bet to $50 is only one part of the problem. I can't think of any other constructive advice to give that hasn't already been offered, other than increasing the blinds to $1/$1. Fracs are meaningless in your game.

Pre-pandemic, the games in my area were tame compared to now. Hundreds are the new twenties, literally. I hosted a weekly $1/$1 dealer's choice game for 9 months last year at a private club in town. Max buy-in, including re-buys, was 200BB's. It was not uncommon to see players lose a grand.

I bought that game to a halt because I had little control over when the game ended. A majority of the players insisted on playing to 1:30 or 2am - didn't matter whether they were stuck or not. (The game started at 6pm.)

About a third of the players, all of whom are in their 60's or 70's, had played limit back in the day. They reconstituted the game, incorporating an $8/$16 limit structure.

Three weeks ago, one of the players in the limit game ran hot early, adding seven to eight hundred dollars to his stack. He went downhill from there. By the end of the night he was raising pre-flop and every street to the river in 80% of the pots he entered, effectively changing the blinds to $16/$16/$32. He went home down $1400.

Following to see if you crack this nut, so please keep us updated.
 
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Don't agree with pot limit or other restrictions on betting. NLHE is no limit.

Caps however, max the buy in $100, and no stack match. Sounds like your group just likes to play loose.
 
I am assuming by this:

We are seeing pre-flop 3x bets of $10 or more and re-raises in the $50-$60 range.

you mean: We are seeing pre-flop raises of $10 or more and 3-bets in the $50-$60 range.
 
Sounds like they will keep playing the same regardless of the lower stakes… Unless they start running out of money over a few months and tighten up. Not sure how well-rolled the group is.

Question #1: Is this betting behavior common to your whole group? Or is it being driven by just a couple of bulls—forcing the rest of the herd to follow along, or fall hopelessly behind?

If the latter, then the (less pleasant) solution is to disinvite the players driving that dynamic, or at least prioritize seats for those who don’t want to get stacks in every hand.

Q #2: If the stakes were raised to a level that made a $10 3bet more normal (say, 50¢/$1), would they keep 3betting $10? Or would that just inflate things further, i.e. $25 3bets?

… Basically what I’m asking with both questions is, is your group effectively trying to play higher stakes, or are they getting squeezed into doing so by just a couple people?
 
Your game sounds like a 2/3 game lol just go up to 1/2 or 2/3 for 1 game and see how it works/feels


The moment you make the barrier of entry more money, you’ll get less 4-5 way post flop action.

Raising the blinds will definitely start making the 9/3o hands get mucked preflop.

Versus the 9/3o calling $1 to gamble a flop against premiums….

I vote you rise to the occasion.

Minimum buy in: $400

Add on: Unlimited

Blinds: $2 / $5

Let the party be a party!

In my OP I asked about lowering the blinds, but you guys are suggesting I actually raise them? It does kind of make sense. Does anyone have personal experience where this actually worked? Would you raise it to .50/1 and keep the max buy in at $100?

Sounds like they will keep playing the same regardless of the lower stakes… Unless they start running out of money over a few months and tighten up. Not sure how well-rolled the group is.

Question #1: Is this betting behavior common to your whole group? Or is it being driven by just a couple of bulls—forcing the rest of the herd to follow along, or fall hopelessly behind?

If the latter, then the (less pleasant) solution is to disinvite the players driving that dynamic, or at least prioritize seats for those who don’t want to get stacks in every hand.

Q #2: If the stakes were raised to a level that made a $10 3bet more normal (say, 50¢/$1), would they keep 3betting $10? Or would that just inflate things further, i.e. $25 3bets?

… Basically what I’m asking with both questions is, is your group effectively trying to play higher stakes, or are they getting squeezed into doing so by just a couple people?

The majority of my group are pretty well rolled, typically bringing 3-4 buy ins with them. I have a couple of less frequent players who always buy in for less than max and are out after 1 or 2 bullets.

The betting behavior is definitely driven by just a few bulls, with 2 of them being relatively new players. I'm changing my invite system starting with the next game so that those new players will naturally be invited less often. My plan is to let my core group of 8 regs have first shot at seats, then I'm going to start an "interested" list and choose who gets the remaining seats at random...maybe that shouldn't be quite so "random". ;)

I really do not know if the stakes were raised how my group would adjust, I guess there's only one way to really find out.
 

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