Cash Games Vs Tournaments – Which Should You Play?
By Bob Garcia
When it comes to playing poker, there are two main types of games: cash games and tournaments. Both have their own unique set of rules and strategies, and both can be extremely profitable if you know what you’re doing. So, which type of game should you be playing?
Well, that depends on a number of factors. Here’s a quick overview of each type of game, along with the pros and cons of each:
The benefits of playing cash games include:
– Assuming there’s a seat open, you can always sit down at a cash table, regardless of how long the game’s been running. Similarly, as opposed to tournaments, you can get up and leave a cash game any time you choose. This makes cash games ideal for anyone with a busy schedule, or a short attention span.
– The blinds in cash games stay the same throughout, meaning you don’t face the same type of pressure to get involved in a hand you’re not comfortable playing. Instead, you can sit back and wait for a premium hand before splashing into a pot. Of course, if you only play premiums, your opponents are unlikely to give you much action, so regardless if it’s a cash game or a tournament, make sure you don’t turn into a “nit” (an overly tight player).
– Finally, cash games offer more consistent profits. Since your goal is simply to make as much money as possible, rather than outlast a large field of opponents, you’re more likely to see smaller, but more frequent wins in cash games.
The downside of playing cash games include:
– Potential profits are limited. In a cash game, the most you can win is what’s in the pot, which is usually only a few big blinds. It is relatively rare to win a pot more than 400 Big Blinds (of which about half will be your own investment). In a tournament, on the other hand, first place can be worth hundreds or even thousands of times your buy-in.
– Cash games can sometimes be more frustrating than tournaments. If you have a downswing in a cash game, you can easily lose a large chunk of your bankroll. In a tournament, however, you can only ever lose your buy-in.
– On a related note, cash-games can be much more destructive when you are on tilt. Since in a tournament you can only ever lose your buy-in, the risk of tilt is somewhat minimized. Conversely, in a cash game, one bad beat can put you on tilt and cause you to spew off your entire bankroll before you have a chance to gain control over your emotions.
The benefits of playing tournaments include:
– The potential profits are much higher. As mentioned above, in a cash game you can only ever win what’s in the pot, while in a tournament first place can be truly life-changing money.
– Tournaments often provide more flexibility when it comes to buy-in levels and generally last for many hours, meaning you can get a much larger bang for your buck, even when working with a smaller bankroll.
– Tournaments force you to play your A-game. Since the blinds increase over time, you can’t afford to sit around and wait for premium hands like you can in a cash game. This forces you to play more hands, and as a result, you’re likely to improve your overall game – not to mention the added excitement of constantly trying to stay ahead of the blinds.
The downside of playing tournaments include:
– Tournaments can be very time-consuming. Unless you’re playing in a “sit and go” tournament (one that starts as soon as all the seats are filled), you’ll usually have to clear your schedule for several hours to commit to a tournament.
– The early stages of a tournament can often be quite slow, with lots of players just hanging around waiting for something to happen. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re used to the faster pace of cash games.
– You will often run into bad luck deep in a tournament, which can be frustrating as heck! Even if you’re the best player at the table, there’s always the chance that someone will get lucky and beat you, making the often-significant time investment seem meaningless.
So, which type of poker game should you be playing? Ultimately, it depends on your goals and your preferred style of play. If you’re looking to make quick and consistent profits, then cash games are probably the way to go. However, if you’re looking to stretch out the time you spend at the table and experience the potential to make a life-changing amount of money, then tournaments are definitely the way to go. Either way, the most important thing is that you have fun and don’t get too caught up in the results. Remember, poker is a game — so make sure you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself. Simply relax, focus on getting better every session you put in at the table, and let the luck of the cards fall where they may.