Cash Games vs. Tournaments

Cash Games vs. Tournaments
By Hank Cashman

As we all have learned how to play poker, we have learned many variations of the game. We started with Stud and Draw then at the turn of the century Texas Holdem became king. Now most players play Texas or Omaha. With all of these games, sometimes I think we miss one of the biggest differences in poker. That is the difference between cash and tournament play.

I would love to get you in a cash game. I have heard that so many times. It is usually after some one gets put out of a tournament with a bad suck out.

Part of the big difference is that in tournaments some of the players see the entry fee as spent money. They know that the tournament will not cost them any more than they have already spent. Since there is no more money to risk, they are willing to play loose and try to get that next card.

In a lot of tournaments, especially on-line, you will see players go all in early to build chip stacks. In a cash game they would never do that. They wouldn’t risk losing more money on what is usually a 50/50 chance.

In the beginning of re-buy tournaments the play is even more loose. Players know that they can lose all they have and just re-buy to get back in. Many players will look at a tournament with a $50 buy-in and $50 re-buys as a $200 tournament. They come in planning on playing fast and loose in the beginning. They are willing to risk the first $50 just to try to get ahead. After the re-buy period is over, the same player will settle down to a more tight/aggressive play, or he’ll leave.

In a good cash game the players aren’t trying to see how fast they can lose their bankroll. The chips have a real value to the players and are seen more as money than tournament chips. In tournaments you may pay $100 and get $2,500 in chips. The chips have no real money value. In a cash game the $100 chip is a real $100. That does make a difference to your thinking. Chips are designed to keep you from thinking of them as money but they are in a cash game.

In some point in a tournament, whether it is a re-buy or freeze out, you can make an opponent leave. If you put them out they stay gone. That isn’t necessarily so in a cash game. If you put someone out and for what ever reason they want to stay, they just buy back in. This has its good and bad side.

If you get put out just because of one bad call, buy back in and win. If you aren’t playing well or the cards just aren’t coming, call it a night. Its your call but keep your head about you. Don’t buy back in to get revenge. That just costs you more.
Just because you can play well in tournaments doesn’t mean you can be a good cash player, and vice-versa. Remember, Phil Hellmuth is the world’s best tournament Holdem player. He has eleven bracelets to prove it. He is still a fish in cash games though.

Keep the cards and chips flying.