Should You Play Tournaments or Cash Games

The answer to this question like most things in poker is that it depends. Before you register and deposit money into an online poker site, it’s important to find out if you’re better off playing in tourneys or cash games. There are pros and cons to playing both forms of poker, which we’ll discuss in greater detail below.

If you have ever wondered why online tournaments are very popular, the answer is because tourneys present poker players with bigger possible EV+ opportunities if they feel they have a big enough edge against the the majority of the players in the tournament. They also typically require a smaller investment.

In a poker tournament, you can play as many hands as it takes for you to win it or to bust out, without any surcharge. The only time you pay a fee to the room is when you register for the tourney. When it comes to playing poker tournaments, there are two basic types: SNGs and MTTs.

SNGs are single table tournaments. They usually start out with 9-10 players, out of which 3-4 may finish in the money, so the return on the initial investment (the buy-in) is not really great unless you win, but it’s still pretty good starting point when first getting started in online poker!

Multi-table tournaments (MTTs) feature hundreds or even thousands of players. While MTTs have a much bigger number of opponents you have to play against and beat in order to win, they offer a great deal of value to players that choose to play them.

If you are lucky enough to win a MTT with a few hundred players, you’re practically guaranteed to make at least 50 times your initial buy-in, which is an awesome ROI, and much better than what you can expect to make playing a SNG tourney.

However, the thing about playing MTTs is that you will need lady luck to be on your side for the stars to align up and beat so many opponents, and skill is often not enough. This means you can go for long stretches, even when you are playing well, without winning or even cashing in a tournament.

On the other hand, cash games are a different beast. The strategies involved when playing in cash games differs quite a lot when compared to tournaments. In tournaments and sit-and-go’s with a fast blind structure, the blinds escalate quickly, making players short stacked.

Playing cash games are more convenient than playing tournaments. If you only have 30 minutes to play, that isn’t a problem. fire up a ring game table at your favorite online poker site and playing as many hands as you can get in before calling it a day. You don’t have this same luxury in a tournament poker.

Cash games are good for building up a bankroll for new players by booking lots of small wins and seeing slow and steady growth to your roll, assuming you are a winning cash game player. You don’t get the same ROI as you would when playing a large field MTT, but it’s not like you’re going to win one of those tourneys every day, or even year!

Obviously in cash games the blinds are fixed so there is no increasing pressure from the blinds going up and forcing you to play more hands. It also means the stack sizes are much deeper and this has a significant impact on the types of starting hands that you can play. Playing deep stacked, it becomes a much different game of poker, as it allows players to speculate with lots more marginal hands, since they are getting very good implied odds to do so.

Bankroll requirements are another important consideration when deciding whether you should play tournaments or cash games. Due to the higher variance nature of tournaments, you’ll need a much bigger bankroll to support the stretches where you don’t cash. Having as many as 100 buy-ins is necessary when playing MTTs. Cash games, on the other hand, are a lower variance style of game, although it does depend on other factors like the game you’re playing and your playing style. Generally, though, having a bankroll of 25 buy-ins would be sufficient.

From a psychological point of view, cash games can be a bit easier to deal with without allowing the bad beats and run of bad cards to affect you. In tournaments, if you happen to get unlucky, you’re out of the tournament, assuming you can’t re-buy. But when you play cash games, although you can still experience downswings, period where you get sucked out on a lot, etc if you are playing well, you can still manage to keep your head above water.