Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

When playing poker, there are two main formats. These are cash games and tournaments. These two formats differ in several ways. For example, you play cash games on one table. Tournaments usually involve multiple tables. Here are some other differences between the two to help you decide what format to choose.

Chips and buy-ins

In cash games, you exchange money for chips. You have minimum and maximum buy-in amounts that depend on the stakes. In tournaments, all the players usually receive the same amount of chips and buy-in for the same amount.

When using a reputable poker app, it usually allows you to participate in cash games or tournaments. All you need is your mobile phone and an internet connection.   

Length of the game

When you play in a cash game, you can quit at any time and exchange your chips for money. If you lose all your chips in a cash game, you can buy in again and continue to play. A tournament will only end when there is one winner with all the chips. If you lose all your chips in a tournament, you can’t continue to play. The exception is a rebuy tournament format that allows you to buy in again if you lose all your chips.

Poker tournaments can carry on for hours. The length of a game depends on the number of players, blind levels, and the type of game. If you take part in a poker tournament, you need to take breaks. It’s not a good idea to have wine or any other alcohol in breaks as this could impair your judgment. 

Why play cash games?

Cash games are the main way players get their first exposure to poker. Cash games are typically played in clubs, homes, lodges, casinos, and on the internet. There are real money cash games to suit every kind of budget, especially when playing online. You can choose to play low, medium, or high-stakes games. The range of stakes available means there’s something to suit everyone. 

Cash games are often called “ring games” with 9 to 10 players sitting around a table. With online poker, tables are usually limited to a maximum of six players. If you choose to play a six-max game, it is full of action as players can play more hands. As blinds come around more quickly, you can’t sit back and wait for premium cards. As a beginner, you should play full-ring games before trying a more aggressive six-max game. 

Why play tournament poker?

Poker tournaments often have large cash prizes, but they aren’t a way to make some quick money. To enter a standard poker tournament, you will pay an entry cost and a fee to the entity running the tournament. For example, a no-limit hold’em tournament may have a $50 entry cost and a $5 fee. 

The $50 will go into the prize pool, and you will receive your non-negotiable tournament chips. The blinds keep escalating every 15 minutes or so. The chips you hold only relate to your position in the tournament. Your finishing position dictates whether and what you get paid.  

It will come down to your personal preference when deciding whether to play cash games or tournaments. Each format has its strengths and weaknesses. 

By Richard Maxwell

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