Are Poker Cash Games Fundamentally Different From Tournaments?

Are Poker Cash Games Fundamentally Different From Tournaments

Cash games and tournaments are the two most popular formats of poker. Both of these formats are equally entertaining and enjoyable. Both of them can be played online and offline.

But what are the basic differences between these two?

As a poker player, here are some key factors which you need to consider before selecting a variant to showcase your poker talent.


Cash games are played on one table only. You can join a cash game anytime and sit on any “empty seat” on the table to start the action. You can also leave the table anytime you want and exchange the chips you won for real money. Multi-table tournaments (MTT) are played on more than one tables. Players need to register themselves to join the table by paying the entry fees. If a player leaves the table during the game, he gets nothing from the prize pool. The tournament ends when there is only one player left on the table who won all the chips. The top players earn rewards on the basis of the position they finish. The player who survives until the end gets the biggest share of the prize pool.


In cash games, chips have a monetary value. Players buy these chips with real money. As per the stakes, there is a minimum and maximum buy-in limit. In tournaments, all players need to pay a specific amount of buy-in. They all receive the same amount of tournaments chips which don’t have any value in terms of real money.


In cash games, blinds usually remain the same. Players can take their sweet time deciding their next action on their turn. In tournaments, blinds increase consistently (e.g. – after every 10 minutes) so players need to act more quickly than cash games.


You can re-buy as many times you want in cash games whenever you are out of chips. In tournaments, you can re-buy only as per the rules of the particular tournament. In re-buy tournaments, you can re-buy only for a specific amount of time. After that, if you lose all your chips, you cannot purchase more chips to remain seated on the table. In freeze-out tournaments, re-buy feature is not available.

The rules of the game are basically the same in both formats. Poker tournaments are best for those who want to play against the best to test their expertise and earn their share from the gigantic prize pools. Cash games are preferable for those who don’t want to commit to the table for the long duration of time. Cash games have less variance than tournaments so it is a better choice for those players who are into small but steady profits. So always choose that format to play which best suits your level of interest and skill-set.

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