Difference Between Cash Games And Tournaments

Tournament poker often requires a minimun of players. In cash games, there is a minimum buy-in and somewhere between 20 to 100 the big blinds is the average requirement. For example, a cash game with blinds of $1/$2 could require anywhere between $40 to $200 to join. Fixed limit games generally require 10 times the small blind to join.


You love poker games. You decide to put your money where your heart is and play at a legitimate poker site like the best online poker sites here. However, you are caught in a dilemma.

As a beginner to online poker games, which types of poker games should you play for real money; Tournaments or Cash games?

These two poker game formats are readily available at online poker sites, and they seem to have attractive and rewarding features. You can decide to select one or the other and win real money from both.

  1. Unlike cash games, tournaments can be played on either a single table or multiple tables. This means the number of people that take part is essentially unlimited. Tournaments can involve just two players or thousands of players.
  2. Only difference between the variants is the winning amount calculation and number of deals. Points Rummy The fastest rummy variant where the game just lasts for one deal, this serves as one of the quickest ways to earn real cash.

But if you are running on an average budget, you need to choose the right poker game option to maximize your bankroll and playing time. You should also not forget that you are a newbie, just starting to learn how to play online poker real money games.

You will be playing the same poker game either you go for cash games or tournaments. However, bear in mind that the two game formats require a different strategy to emerge victorious while playing them. So what do you go for? The thrill of cash games or exciting poker tournaments?

This article covers the key differences and pros and cons of both cash and tournament games. Using this information, you will be able to decide which game format is best for you.

Key Differences

The best way to carefully decide whether to play cash games or tournament games at a poker site is to understand the two formats’ fundamental differences. Firstly, what are poker cash games? Also known as live-action games or ring games, this poker game format is played with real money on a single table. If you’re interested in playing something different like online blackjack you can also find some guides dedicated to it on our site.

To play cash games, players exchange their money for chips and, depending on their budget, can go for the minimum or maximum buy-in limits cash games offer. Another unique feature of cash games is that you can buy in, opt-out and convert your chips to real money anytime.

In poker tournaments, several players compete against each other to win a prize pool offered by the site. Like cash games, players have to purchase a buy-in to participate in the online poker tournament. Here are the primary differences between poker tournaments and cash games.

A poker tournament features only one buy-in amount that every player willing to participate in the competition is expected to buy. Also, each player is given the same number of chips in a tournament. However, cash games come with different table buy-in amounts.

A tournament ends when a player has all the chips. Players are paid after the winner is declared, and their payouts depend on their tournament position. However, you can convert your chips into money any time you feel like leaving the game.

Tournaments may be played on more than one table. Cash games are usually played on a single table.

In tournaments, the blinds’ costs increase while it stays fixed for each hand in cash games.

If you lose all your chips in a poker tournament, you are automatically out of the game. However, if you exhaust your bankroll during a cash game, you only need to rebuy to continue playing.

Now comes the million-dollar question? How do these poker game differences affect your chances of winning some poker cash? Which game format will give you the best and most consistent payout? Poker tournament or real cash games?

Although much depends on your strategy, your competitors’ skill set, and several other factors, cash games are known to give regular payouts than tournaments. This is mainly because cash games have a lower volatility level compared to poker tournaments.

If you are skillful and you get your strategy right, your payouts while playing cash games may be small but consistent.

However, tournaments often come with huge prizes, which can significantly boost your bankroll, especially if you finish in the top three positions.

How often should you cash in a poker tournament? You only cash out in a poker tournament when the winner is declared, and that’s one of the main reasons why payouts of poker tournaments are not as constant as cash games wins.

Let’s look at other pros of cash games and poker tournaments.

Cash Games Give You More Flexibility

Cash games should be your option if you are looking to have a flexible time playing online poker. You can opt-in and leave anytime you want without affecting your cash-out. Cash games are your best bet if you want to have control over your time or have other important activities in your schedule.

Since cash games run 24/7 or around the clock, you can buy-in and play the game whenever you want. Tournaments do not offer this kind of flexibility. You can’t easily leave a tournament until it is over, or else you risk disqualification and the forfeiture of your chips. Since tournaments do not come with a fixed time, you can end up playing for hours till a winner emerges.

Another way cash games offer you flexibility is on your bankroll and playing budget. You are not restricted to a specific buy-in amount like tournaments. Instead, cash games feature a wide range of amounts with a minimum and maximum limit.

Tournaments are Easier to Learn

One specific positive feature tournaments have over cash games is their easy and straightforward gameplay. As a newbie, you can quickly grasp the workings of a poker tournament rather than a cash game.

As you progress in the levels, the blinds get more increased, and fewer hands are played. Before you get to “the river” or a winner emerges, several players’ stack sizes would have thinned out, which will help you make more straightforward decisions.

However, in cash games, irrespective of the time you buy-in, you may find players with bigger and deeper stacks. In such a setting, the experienced players have more advantage over beginners since they will be able to manoeuvre and try other moves. Not having a solid strategy while playing against these skilled gamblers is a fast way to lose your bankroll at the poker site.

What Should YOU Play?

Now that you know the differences between Cash games and poker tournaments, which one do you think is right for you?

In the end, the decision to choose a poker game format depends on your preferences. Both of them offer exciting gameplay and excellent payouts. But what are your choices? If you want huge wins, play poker tournaments. However, if you desire consistent and steady wins, then cash games are great for you.

Also, if you have limited playing time and a busy schedule, then opt for cash games. Poker tournaments should be your choice if you want a more straightforward approach to playing poker. However, cash games give you an opportunity to learn broader skill sets. So, if you want to be more competent, go for cash games.

Final thoughts

Cash games and poker tournaments are some of the essential features of a poker app or site. They contribute to the fun and thrill of a poker site and can’t be substituted for each other.

However, they have different pros and cons that a newbie must consider before deciding to play one. As has been mentioned earlier, the ultimate decision lies with you.

However, irrespective of the format you choose to enjoy your online poker game, you must learn some basic and advanced poker strategy like how to play poker tournaments online. Having a solid strategy will help you secure wins whether you are playing cash games or online poker tournaments.

Choosing between Tournaments or Cash games on Poker was first seen on Casino Life Magazine

Cash game vs tournament strategy

A game of poker can be classified in a few different ways.
There are a variety of betting structures that can be used, such
as no limit and fixed limit, and there are different versions of
the game as well. Among these versions are the ever popular Texas
Hold’em, the slightly less well-known Omaha, and every version
in between.

In addition to these classifications, there are also two main
formats the game can be played in: cash games and tournaments.
The fundamentals of the game are the same in each but the two
formats both have certain characteristics which make them very
different from each other.

You’ll probably want to try both of these formats out when
you first start playing poker, so you really should learn the
mechanics of them both. We explain the basics of each one below
to help you understand exactly how they are played. We also
summarize the main differences and see if we noticed that one
version is clearly better than the other.

How Poker Cash Games Work: The Basics

Cash games are played on a single table and can involve any
number of players between two and ten. They are played using a
fixed blind level (such as $1/$2), which doesn’t change during a
game. A player may join an active cash game at any point,
providing there’s a seat open at the table.

To join a cash game you must first buy in. This involves
exchanging cash for the equivalent value in chips. There’ll
usually be a minimum amount you can buy in for and there may be
a maximum too. The house rules and the type of game being played
will determine whether or not a minimum and a maximum buy-in
will apply. A typical minimum buy-in is ten big blinds and a
typical maximum buy-in is 100 big blinds. So in a $1/$2 game,
for example, you may be able to buy in from anywhere between $20
and $200.

Your chips all have a real monetary value when playing cash
games and money is won and lost in each and every pot. If you
put $10 into a pot and end up getting beaten by a better hand,
you’ll have lost $10 of actual money. If you win a pot with $50
worth of chips, then you’ll have won $50 of actual money (minus
what you had put in the pot of course). This aspect of cash
games might seem incredibly obvious, but it’s actually the
complete opposite to how you win and lose money in tournaments.

If you lose all your chips during a cash game, or are running
low, you can buy more by exchanging additional funds but any
table minimums and maximums will still apply. However, you can’t
usually remove any chips from the table unless you are actually
leaving the table.

On the subject of leaving, you can do this at any point
during a cash game. Any chips you have will be converted back
into cash. This is another significant difference to tournament
poker, which you will learn more about if you continue reading.

How Poker Tournaments Work: The Basics

Poker tournaments are a little more complicated than cash
games, primarily because they come in a range of different
formats and structures. We explain more about the various types
of tournaments in another article, so we’ll try to keep things
as simple as possible here.

Unlike cash games, tournaments can be played on either a
single table or multiple tables. This means the number of people
that take part is essentially unlimited. Tournaments can involve
just two players or thousands of players. Most, but not all,
tournaments that take place on multiple tables have a fixed
start time which is set in advance and these are known as
scheduled tournaments for that reason.

The alternative to a scheduled tournaments is a sit and go
. These don’t have a fixed start time as they start as
soon as the required number of players are entered and ready to
play. They are generally played on single tables, with between
two and ten players taking part but they can be played across
multiple tables as well.

To enter a tournament, you have to pay the relevant entry
fee. In exchange, you’ll receive a fixed number of chips (called
your starting stack), which will be the same as every other
entrant. You’ll be eliminated from the tournament if you lose
all of your chips at any point. You don’t have the option to
rebuy more chips in the same way you do in cash games, although
there’s one exception to this rule. There’s one specific type of
tournament where you are allowed to rebuy another starting stack
when you lose all of your chips during the early stages.

The chips in tournament poker have no monetary value, so
therefore real money isn’t won and lost on each hand. Instead,
players win money based on their finishing positions. Tournament
entrants are eliminated as and when they lose all of their chips
and the last one left with all of the chips is declared the
. The final finishing positions for everyone else are
determined by the order in which they are eliminated.

At the end of a tournament, the prize pool (which is made up
of all the entry fees) is distributed to the highest finishing
players. There’ll be a payout structure which
stipulates how many players get paid and how much each player
wins. There are no fixed rules regarding what that payout
structure should be and it’s ultimately up to the tournament hosts but it’s
typically based on the number of entrants.

A payout structure for a single table tournament with a $10
entry fee and ten entrants might look something like this.

Finishing PositionPrize Winnings

The following illustrates what the payouts might look like
for a $50 buy in multi-table tournament with 100 entrants.

Finishing PositionPrize Winnings

Difference Between Gpp And Cash Games

Please note that for the sake of these examples we’ve ignored
the rake applied to tournament entry fees. A casino, poker room,
or online poker site will typically apply between 5-10% rake on
each entry fee, so a $10 tournament might actually cost $11 to
enter. Entry fees are usually displayed with the rake separated,
so in this case it would be $10 + $1.

The final characteristic of tournaments that we need to
mention here is that the blinds increase over time. They might
start at 5/10, for example, and then increase every 10 minutes.
The blinds levels used in a tournament, together with the rate
at which they change and the size of players’ starting stacks,
form what’s known as the tournament structure. Different
tournaments use different structures depending on how many
players are involved, the type of tournament being played, and
how long it should last.

What Is Gpp Dfs

Cash Games & Tournaments: The Differences

The key differences between cash games and tournaments is
summarized for your convenience below.

Cash Game & Tournaments: Which is Best?

Difference Between Cash Games And Tournaments Games

We’ve outlined the main technical distinctions between cash
games and tournaments above and it should be noted that there
are other differences that we didn’t cover as well. The most
significant of these is the strategy involved. Certain aspects
of basic strategy are essentially the same for both but many of
the strategic concepts involved are entirely different.

The two formats require slightly different approaches
psychologically, as there are further differences in terms of
the potential profits in relation to the amount staked and the
variance involved. We’re not going to go into detail with these
additional differences here, as this article is targeted at
beginners. All that you really need to know as a beginner is
that each of the two formats has its own set of characteristics,
which come with certain advantages and disadvantages.

You should also know that, to some extent at least, these
advantages and disadvantages are a matter of opinion. It’s not
really possible for us, or anyone for that matter, to state
definitively that either cash games or tournaments are the
“best” poker format, as it’s ultimately down to personal

Difference Between Cash Games And Tournaments 2019

Many poker players choose to focus on playing either just
cash games or just tournaments, while many prefer to play both.
Either approach is absolutely fine. There are certainly some
benefits to concentrating on a single format, but there are
benefits to playing both too. There’s no right or wrong approach
here and it’s entirely up to you to choose what you want to

Cash Games Vs Tournaments Draftkings

Our advice on this subject is simply to try both formats out
for yourself. You might find that you enjoy playing one
significantly more than the other, or you might find that you
get noticeably better results in one over the other. If you’re
playing primarily for fun, then you should stick to what you
enjoy the most, whereas if your goal is to make money, then you
should focus on what makes you the most profit.