Choosing Between Cash Games and Tournaments in Poker

Choosing Between Cash Games and Tournaments in Poker

With both online poker and land casino poker, you have to choose between playing a cash game or a tournament. These different poker styles have varying dynamics, so if you’re not sure which one’s best for you here’s a brief analysis to help you decide:

What Are Cash Games?

Cash games in poker, also known as ‘ring’ games, are where players use their own money at the table. You decide how much to put into the game, and your wins or losses at the table directly translate into the money you walk away with. You can join and leave poker cash games at any time, as long as there’s space at the table. These games vary in size, depending on how many people want to play, but are mostly held at a single table.

Why Play a Cash Game?

Cash games are flexible, starting and finishing when you choose, and they offer opportunities for deep-stack play. There is no limit to how much money you bring to the table, or take away from it. This means you can play creatively with weaker cards, because you stand a chance of winning much larger pots than your initial stake. Cash games are also useful for choosing who you play against; you can monitor a table before joining it to see the dynamic of the game, and you can easily switch to another table when you want. You can also rebuy when your chips are down, so if you get unlucky you can keep playing and try to win back your money. The danger, of course, is that with bigger pots you stand a chance of losing more, so cash games require a great deal of patience and self-discipline.

What Are Poker Tournaments?

Tournaments are poker games set out over a finite amount of time, with fixed buy-ins and prizes for the winning players. Once you've paid the buy-in, you're given a set amount of chips and keep playing until you lose these or knock out all the other players – your reward is dictated by how far in the tournament you progress. Tournaments can be between as few as two players, or as many as thousands.

Why Play Poker Tournaments?

Tournaments offer two distinct differences to cash games: they limit your losses and they turn the game into an event. Tournaments provide a goal and a sense of competition that further add to the fun of the game. Everyone starts on a level playing field, with the same size of chip-stack, so high rollers do not have an advantage. You also stand to win huge returns on a small investment if you manage to win a tournament with a large field of players. The downside is that tournaments have to end, so the blinds and ante keep increasing, meaning that play can become rather limited when you are small-stacked. Playing styles are not always as creative as in cash games, and if you get unlucky you could quickly find yourself out of the tournament.

Which Type of Poker Game is For You?

The basic divide is that cash games provide flexible and dynamic play, offering instant rewards for creative players, whilst tournaments provide more rigid, event-based play with rigorous competition and fast-paced gaming that can offer large returns on small buy-ins if you can go the distance. If you're still undecided, you can try out both styles online today at partypoker to help you make your choice.

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  1. 1
    BetMGM Poker
    Established 2018
    More Details
    Get the MGM Resorts Experience Online
    BetMGM Regulars Reward
    Exclusive Poker Software
    Daily Tournaments
    Promo Code
    The code required to claim a sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Min Deposit
    10
    Bonus Wagering
    The number of times you have to play through your bonus before you are able to withdraw any winnings
    1x
    Payout Time
    The average withdrawal processing time
    1-5 Days
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    No
    WSOP Satelites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Poker players at BetMGM are in for a treat once they register with this poker provider. The exclusive software and an abundance of ongoing promotions and tournaments make this operator the perfect pick.
  2. 2
    PokerStars Poker
    Established 2015
    More Details
    100% Bonus Up to $600
    Owner & Sponsor of the European Poker Tour
    Official Partner of the Red Bull F1 Racing Team
    Signed Neymar Jr as 'Cultural Ambassador'
    Promo Code
    The code required to claim a sign-up bonus (if any)
    STARS600
    Min Deposit
    10
    Bonus Wagering
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    35x
    Payout Time
    The average withdrawal processing time
    3-5 Days
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    No
    WSOP Satelites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Multi-award-winning PokerStars host some of the biggest online poker tournaments including the famous Sunday Million which has a $1million guaranteed prize pool, plus exclusive satellites to the European Poker Tour.
  3. 3
    Guts Poker
    Established 2013
    More Details
    C$200 Welcome Bonus
    Guts Poker Loyalty Program
    Weekly Tournaments
    Weekly Missions for Unlocking Rewards
    Promo Code
    The code required to claim a sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Min Deposit
    10
    Bonus Wagering
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    20x
    Payout Time
    The average withdrawal processing time
    1-3 Days
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    No
    WSOP Satelites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    Aside from sportsbook and casino, users can also access the poker section. Like other brands, it requires client download and offers an excellent poker experience.
  4. 4
    PartyPoker
    Established 1997
    More Details
    Experience World Class Online Poker
    Official Partner of F1 McLaren Racing Team
    Poker Ambassadors Kevin Hart & Carl Froch
    Weekly Cashbacks
    Promo Code
    The code required to claim a sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Min Deposit
    10
    Bonus Wagering
    The number of times you have to play through your bonus before you are able to withdraw any winnings
    1x
    Payout Time
    The average withdrawal processing time
    1-2 Days
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    No
    WSOP Satelites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    Yes
    One of the pioneers of online poker, PartyPoker was once the world’s biggest poker site and they still host huge online tournaments such as the prestigious MILLIONS series with a $1million guaranteed main event, plus satellites to PartyPoker live events.
  5. 5
    888 Poker
    Established 1997
    More Details
    100% up to $1000
    Online Poker Operator of the Year' 2022
    Unique BLAST & SNAP Fast-Fold Games
    Satellites to Exclusive Online XL Series
    Promo Code
    The code required to claim a sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Min Deposit
    20
    Bonus Wagering
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    30x
    Payout Time
    The average withdrawal processing time
    1-3 Days
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    No
    WSOP Satelites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    No
    With over 10 million registered members, 888poker is one of the world’s largest poker networks and they also have their own live circuit featuring some of the most prestigious poker events in the world, with destinations such as London, Barcelona and Bucharest.
  6. 6
    GG Poker
    Established 2014
    More Details
    Bet $20, Claim $50
    Largest Online Poker Site in the World
    World Series of Poker™ Official Partner
    External Tools & Tracking Software Blocked
    Promo Code
    The code required to claim a sign-up bonus (if any)
    not required
    Min Deposit
    10
    Bonus Wagering
    The number of times you have to play through your bonus before you are able to withdraw any winnings
    1x
    Payout Time
    The average withdrawal processing time
    1-3 Working Days
    Rakeback
    Does this poker site refund a portion of your rake or offer cashback for poker loyalty points?
    No
    WSOP Satelites
    Can you enter satellites for World Series of Poker™ event packages?
    Yes
    GG Poker offers award winning features include EV Cashout, Snap Cam, NFT Avatars and Squeeze Cards. You can also play online with GGTeam Pro Players Daniel Negreanu, 'ElkY' Grospellier and Jason Kroon.
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