Tournament poker vs Cash game poker

Tournament poker and cash game poker feature many similarities but are two completely different forms of poker. The differences between the rules of tournament poker and cash game poker are easy to learn.

The main difference between tournament poker and cash game poker is that tournaments begin at a predetermined time and finish due to predetermined parameters, while cash games can last indefinitely and feature a much more flexible rule base.

Tournament Poker

Players buy in to a poker tournament for a set cost and every player begins the tournament with the same amount of chips and at the same time. There are predetermined “blinds” which increase at set intervals throughout the tournament and this ensures players are consistently eliminated.

Players are eliminated by losing all their chips and the tournament continues until only one player has all of the chips. Usually there will be around 10%-20% of the tournament field who will go home with a prize, with the amount given to each player awarded depending in which position they were eliminated.

Cash Game Poker (Ring Game)

Cash games are much more flexible for players than tournaments as players are usually able to buy in, rebuy and cash out whenever they desire.

The blind levels in ring game poker are generally static and remain the same throughout the game unless all players agree to change the stakes. The stack sizes of each player are also different from poker tournaments as the increasing blinds in tournaments means players will sometimes have tiny stacks, while in cash games, players will often have similar size stacks and players have the ability to rebuy or top-up when they lose chips. Cash games are usually played as full ring (9-10 players), six-handed (6 players max) or heads-up (2 players).

Which format to choose?

Both formats require different approaches, skills and personality types, but there’s no reason you can’t enjoy both formats. Generally tournaments bring a lot more media attention and have the lure of a big payday for a small investment. But they are not easy to win, so the swings can be tough to handle. Cash games are likely to provide good players with a smaller but more steady form of profit.

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