Cash Games vs. Tournaments - Part II
In Part I of this article, we were taking a look at which form of poker was more suited for your personality, cash games, or tournaments. Right now, the advantages of cash games outnumber tournaments 2:1. Let's see how it ends:
If you're living in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, or Atlantic City, you're never going to find yourself without some sort of poker action. There are tournament going on every day, and cash games running around the clock. For the rest of you, the cash games may always be there at your local casino, along with a few $25 buy in tourneys, but the big time, bigger payouts are quite trip away. $10,000 buy in tournaments don't run every day, and even $1,000 tourneys can be hard to find. The advantage in this one goes to the cash games, because while one tourney win make set you for life, you're not likely to hit it, and the side games will welcome you with open rake boxes everyday.
Cash Games: 3 - Tournaments: 1
I've had people ask me, "If you won $8,000,000 in the Main Event next year, what would you do?" I always have the same answer. "I would bid farewell to poker and enjoy my life of leisure." That's a lie of course, because anyone who is dedicated enough to player poker for a living is at least a little bit addicted to the game. The point is, a big time tourney score can be enough to retire on, while it's usually going to take a lot of grinding to get to the same point of financial security. The good news (for cash game players) a proven win rate over a large sample is basically proof that you're going to enjoy a basic hourly rate. This is unlike tournaments where the variance is so sickening that the best tournament player in the world may never even see a final table because they may play 20 tournaments, never cash, and give up. The pay may be more steady in cash games, which some people prefer, but if you are lucky enough to hit that one big score, continual pay matters about as much as my answer to the Main Event question. In my opinion, the tournaments are getting the thumbs up on this one because most people aren't going to play poker for a living so why not chase that seven figure dream?
Cash Games: 3 - Tournaments: 2
Personally, I don't like to be told where to be and when to be there. Some people though wouldn't get anything done if they didn't have a strict schedule. For the most part, cash games allow much more freedom than tournaments. Due the nature of the blind levels and payout structure, tournaments have a start time, stop time, and predetermined break time. None of which care at all when you have to go to the bathroom. If you're sitting a cash game and want to get up to go eat, play a few hands of blackjack, or whatever it is you like to do when you take breaks, you have that choice. If you don't want to get up to be to the casino by noon and stay there until the tournament director tells you it's time to leave, tournaments are probably not for you. Advantage: cash games.
Cash Games: 4 - Tournaments: 3
Different people play poker for different reasons. I play poker for the money. A friend of mine plays poker because he loves games. Another friend plays because he really, really, really, really wants to be on TV someday. He's never going to get on TV though, because he is a terrible poker player that is very close to giving up and finding a new way to get onto the silver screen. Fortunately (for me), cash game players are, except in some rare occasions, never going to become famous by playing poker on TV. TV is for the tournaments and if fame is one of your goals, then stay away from the cash game. I can't even remember the amount of times people have asked me what I do for a living, and if I forget to give my standard reply of Antique Flashlight Repair Specialist, I end of telling them that I do, in fact player poker. And, without fail, the next question is, "HAVE I EVER SEEN YOU ON TV???" No, and you never will. For some people though, being on television and getting famous is a life long dream, and for that dream, tournament poker is definitely the way to go.
Cash Games: 4 - Tournaments: 4
It seems like lately, a $2,000-$4,000 H.O.R.S.E. game is running close to 24 hours a day on Full Tilt Poker. With the signing of Daniel Negreanu, the high stakes poker games on Pokerstars are running a lot more frequently as well. There is basically no cash game ceiling online anymore, as opposed to the old days where $30-$60 Limit Hold 'em was as high as you got and $1-$2 No Limit was still in its early stages. Pokerstars also offers the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP), the online equivalent to the W.S.O.P. With 2007's Main Event winner earning $1,378,330.50, the prize pools are about as massive as big buy in live events. Full Tilt Poker also has their own series of major tournaments called the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) which runs a few times a year. With the major sites each having a $1,000 buy in event every week (FTP's on Monday, Stars' on Tuesday) and the Sunday Majors (weekly tournaments that run on all poker sites) online tournaments are about as plentiful as cash games. This one is definitely a tie as well.
Cash Games: 5 - Tournaments: 5
While this list just hits on the major differences between the two forms, the advantages for each person reading this may be different. If you're a player that craves non stop action, that one time only tournament buy in may not be your thing. If you're a player that get themselves to sit down and grind the cash games, then maybe the strict tournament schedule is right up your alley. Hopefully you got something out of this list though. At least the next time you tell someone you play poker and they want to know the difference between cash games and tournaments, you'll have an answer. However, if you came to this article in search of a definitive answer to your question of whether cash games or tournaments are better, I'm sorry, but like every other question in poker: it depends.