When deciding whether to be a tournament or cash game poker player there are many factors which you must take into account as each form of poker has distinct differences.

Some players excell in tournament poker but cannot regularly win in cash games, while for others it’s vice versa. This article will help you to understand why that is, as well as helping you to decide what’s the best form for you.

1. The Players

It’s accepted by the majority of poker players that cash games generally have a higher standard of players than tournaments. The simple reason for this seems to be that most of the poker broadcast on television is in tournament format, so when new, inexperienced players start playing poker, they automatically play tournaments. Hence, there are weaker players playing tournaments than playing cash games.

The obvious reaction to this is, “well if tournaments have weaker players they must be easier to win”. This isn’t always the case though, and is usually dependant on your playing style. If you’re a tight, mathematical player who bets when you have something and folds when you don’t, then new players should be easy to beat as they don’t know what starting hands to play, cannot see straight or flush possibilities, and will call with any piece of the board. New players are easy pickins for mathematical players.

On the other hand, if you’re a loose aggressive type player these beginners can be a nightmare. When loose aggressive players play cash games against good players who understand poker, they tend to do well. This is because a good loose aggressive player is able to read when it’s likely that his opponents have nothing too strong, and by betting aggressively, bluff them off of the pot.

If he tries to do this in tournaments against weaker players though, his bluffs will usually be called by the weaker players who are generally willing to call with anything. This is obviously not good for the aggressive players stack. It’s always easier to bluff a good player than it is to bluff a poor one!

2. Investment Verses Return

The better that you are for the stakes that you are playing at, the more profit you will make in cash games versus tournaments. The reason for this is simple. If you are sitting at a cash game table with nine players, and you know that you are better than all of them, not only will you have the possibility of winning and keeping all of their money, but also all of their rebuys. If you are playing in a sit and go tournament with nine other players who you are better than, not only can they not invest more than their original buy in, but even if you win all of their chips, you don’t get to keep all of their money. The prize pool is split between the top few positions.

On the other hand, tournaments are much safer than cash games, as you can only loose your original buy in, where as the amount of money that you can loose in cash games is unlimited.


To sum up, there is alot more potential to win money playing cash games, but there’s also alot more potential to loose it. Tight mathematical players tend to fare better in tournaments, where as loose aggressive players tend to fare better in cash games. It’s up to you to find out what form of poker suits you best.

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