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This article in two parts is aimed at exploring the differences between playing cash games and tournaments.
The notion “poker” comprises the whole system of many different poker games and various styles to play each of them. But the most common division is into tournament play and cash games. When we are talking about these two we should understand that there is a big difference between the ways these games are played in. If you are a beginner it is really important to define key criteria of each play in order to behave accordingly.
One of the biggest differences between tournaments and cash games is your investment and earnings .
In a tournament you buy in for a certain amount of money and you like the rest of participants will get a starting chip stack. Actually, the original buy-in is the only monetary investment you made in the tournament. To win in the tournament you must win all of the chips. The blinds will raise consistently and there will usually be a specific percentage of the playing field that will get paid out (example: the top 20% get a reward). If a player is not in the best top, he/she comes out with nothing.
In a cash game, with each chip being worth face value, the same investment can’t guarantee you nearly as many hands as in a tournament. But this is where you play poker with money on the table and everything you win is pure cash. If you win a huge pot, your pocket will get thicker. The blinds never increase and you can buy in when you want or leave when you want.
As tournaments provide a set maximum loss, they are very attractive to weaker players. They know that playing a cash game they may lose a lot more money. Besides that, there are some the so-called “casual” players who don’t want to invest a large amount of money into a bankroll. As a result, the average quality of tournament players overall is lower than one of most cash games players.
All professional players always play inside their bankroll . Playing tournaments requires a much larger bankroll than playing cash games.
If you are experienced player you are much likely to succeed in the short term, playing cash rather than a tournament. But the amount of your reward will always be far less than the winner’s share of a tournament with an equal buy-in amount.
They say: “Loose players win tournaments; tight players hope to make the money”.
Thus, an excellent tournament player can expect to win one out of every 40 tournaments he enters. (This ratio will become worse if the fields are getting larger in the tournaments).
Before to win a player may stand to lose 39 buy-ins. He will earn good money in the long run but will have to suffer significant losses on the way.
Of course in cash game there are also periods of swings and losses, but they are hardly as large as this. Such consecutive losing of 39 buy-ins at a cash game will tell you that you must be doing something wrong and should revise your strategy.
As it was mentioned above the quality of players in these two kinds of poker also differs. It would be irrational to insist that tournament players are less skilled than cash game players. But according to the statistics, with the same initial buy-in, a ratio of weak players to strong ones is larger in tournaments than in cash games.
Despite the bigger amount of weak players in tournaments, an ordinary player of a tournament has a chance to sit with more great players then he would at a cash game.
As the tables in a tourney are formed randomly, it is possible to find inexperienced players seated next to, and playing against, some of the poker stars. That will never happen to a player who is going to play a cash game, because the arrangement of the tables there is made according to the players levels and abilities. If you have exceeded the norm for the limit of a table and dominated it, you will move up to a higher limit.
Find the final few features that differ between the two types of poker games in Part two of this article.