Cash Games Vs. Poker Tournaments: Which Fits You Best?

Cash Games Vs. Poker Tournaments: Which Fits You Best?

- March 16, 2016

Maybe you are at a point where you feel it’s practical to make money playing cash games, but it’s also possible for you to win big in an online poker tournament. Deciding which of these two types is the right for you could be the determining factor in whether you succeed or fail at your next online poker table. So let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one, to help you find out what suits you best.

The Basics

Before getting into the pros and cons of cash games and poker tournaments, here are the fundamental differences between the two:

Online Cash Games

  • You can join and leave whenever you like
  • You can buy chips whenever you like
  • Blind levels in cash games are static

Online Poker Tournaments

  • You have to sit down during registration and play until you are out of chips
  • Rebuys are not permitted except in specific rebuy tournaments
  • Blind levels in tournament poker increase at set intervals

Online Poker Cash Games: Pros

The undeniable advantage of cash games is that if you feel things are not going great at your current poker table, you can leave and look for another game in your favorite poker site. Multi-tabling online poker cash games are also extremely attractive because you can simply sit out or vacate a live game without worrying about losing any tournament equity.

With cash games, you also have the chance to slowly but steadily build up your bankroll in the best online poker rooms. It may seem as though it isn’t much to win a few dollars per hour when playing cash games, but you can increase your modest bankroll many times over by grinding away at the tables.

Generally speaking, cash games are consistent, deep-stacked blind structures. If you want to continue and hone your poker skills by playing poker in its purest form, then online cash games would be the choice for you.

Online Poker Cash Games: Cons

As you may have noticed in the description above, cash games don’t offer huge winnings even if you have awesome poker hands. So if you are looking to feel much “glory” after a cash game, then it might not be the case. Cash games can become monotonous. It can even be particularly frustrating if you have fallen behind several buy-ins and you don’t have the time to play several days to make up for that shortfall. This is why some players become disillusioned with the idea of working hours upon end just to regain funds lost during a run of bad luck.

Online Poker Tournaments: Pros

There are very few emotional triumphs that can match the feeling of navigating through a large player field and earning a spot at the final poker table of a tournament. Plus, being on top of the heap means a massive payout to justify the time you spent engaging with your opponents. This is what multi table tournaments (MTTs) have to offer.

In online tournaments like PokerStars Sunday Storm, you can risk entering the tournament with $11 and potentially win $20,000 at the final table in under 24 hours. If you want to try it out, sign up for PokerStars and compete in MTTs.

A first place finish in MTTs can instantly jumpstart your poker career. Another advantage of tournament poker is that it is rarely monotonous. When it comes to choosing the right online poker tournament, there are tons of varieties of formats to select from.

One other advantage of tournaments is that decisions are generally easier than in cash games. This is because of the escalating nature of blind levels in tournaments. The amount of decision making that goes into a move when you need to get out of a short stack is much less in tournaments than in cash games.

Online Poker Tournaments: Cons

The main drawback of competing in an online poker tournament is the time you need to invest in it. It takes as little as several hours to as much as several days to keep up with the action at your online poker site for real money. Secondly, because of the short-stacked nature of tournament stages, the variance in tournaments can be incredibly high, even for the most experienced players. A great run can result in a giant boost of monetary funds, but a horrible run can significantly harm your bankroll. Finally, a bad run in a tournament can affect your enjoyment of playing poker to a higher degree than it would if you were playing cash games.


There are many forms that poker can take. While some prefer the challenge of playing online poker cash games, others prefer the buzz of poker tournaments. It really comes down to your personal preference if you want to go with one or the other.

If you are still uncertain, you can try a variety of games with small buy-ins or no deposit poker bonuses so that you can learn the techniques and strategies you need to compete. You should consider your time at these tables as a learning experience that could very well prepare you for all of the positive expectations that online poker can give.

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard’s interest in keeping up with the ‘bleeding edge’ of technology has kept him working in the digital marketing industry for over six years. Aside from searching for opportunities to increase his online marketing knowledge, Sam also scours the Internet for useful bonuses and coupon codes that he can use to fuel his love for photography. During his free time, he watches professional photo retouching tutorials in between streaming his favourite TV shows. Fun fact: Sam has never met a cupcake he didn't like.