Cash Games or Tournaments: Which Poker Format is Better?


If you’re a poker enthusiast you have probably wrestled with this question once or twice before. Choosing which format to play is a big question really. You need to prioritise which one to spend your time, energy and money into. Pick the one you’re suited for and you may earn thousands, choose wrong and you may lose lots of money and waste your time. That’s why this article is going to offer some insights to readers as to the advantages of both formats so you can pick the one you feel most suited for.

Cash Games

Cash games are perfect for players who excel at deep stacked play. It rewards those with advanced strategy and a creative mind. A thinking player gets the chance to make high level bluffs due to the stack sizes being deeper. This is something few can achieve in tournament poker where stacks are typically shallower.

Cash games affords players the opportunity to get into their heads of their opponents and manipulate their bet sizes accordingly. A strong cash game player will adapt to the opponents around them and exploit weaknesses to ensure they achieve a good poker win rate. Cash games are convenient as you can start and stop at your leisure so if you’re someone with limited time, they may be for you.

The skills below are required to perform well in the long run:

  • Mental strength
  • Advanced post-flop skills
  • Adaptability
  • Excellent hand reading ability
  • Bankroll management skills

If you have the skills above, you may be suited to cash games.


Tournament poker is arguably more popular than cash due to the prestige attached. Players like the opportunity to earn vast amounts while risking little. The strategy involved in becoming a proficient tournament player is more limited than cash. This is due to the fact that tournaments are more strategy based and focused around survival and hand selection. Once you learn push fold strategy – you know it and can use it effectively with a stack under 20 big blinds.

The problem is that most tournament experts know this strategy so the edge is thin between the better players. Fortunately, there are plenty of inferior opponents around making tournaments profitable.

Tournament’s favour those with lots of free time and not necessarily interested in immediate results. Tournaments have a high variance element that means you may generate a 500% ROI one month but be a big loser the month after.

Being able to pick the right moments to attack, change gears and steal blinds are just a few things that separate the successful from those that fail. If you have these skills, you are potentially a great tourney player in the making.

The skills are below are also required to become a successful tournament poker player:

  • Endurance
  • Stamina
  • Excellent hand selection
  • Patience
  • Ability to play short stack poker well

Tournaments are dynamic, fun and rewarding but ultimately, it’s survival of the fittest. If you have the skills above and have a relaxed schedule, tournaments may be for you.

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