Poker Cash Games
When you first look at poker cash games vs. tournament games, they seem quite similar. They’re both forms of poker with the same card hands and values, but there are fundamental differences. Cash games, which are also sometimes called ring games or live action games, are non-tournament poker games where the chips used represent real money. Players can enter (buy in) or leave (cash out) a game at any point between hands. In contrast, a poker tournament has a definite end – usually when only one player is left – and a predetermined group of competitors. Also in tournament play, the chips do not represent real money, and are only used to determine winners and rankings.
Poker cash games vs. ring games
While the terms "ring game" and "cash game" are often used interchangeably, there are some subtle differences. If all seats at a table are full, making a full “ring” of players, this is a ring game. In contrast, if there are one or more empty seats, this is a cash game.
Differences of cash vs. tournament games
The biggest advantage to tournament play is the cap on the amount of money you’d lose vs. your potential winnings. If you buy in to a tournament, the most you can lose is the amount of your buy-in. However, to win, you essentially have to be the “last man standing.” Do you have what it takes to be that last man? Think about it – many aspire to it, but very few do.
By contrast, in cash games, there is no limit to how much you play. You can even play multiple games, and while it can increase your potential earnings, it also increases the potential risk of losing money. But let’s say you decide to buy into a game and a combination of skill and luck means you win the pot after only one or two hands. You get to taste a victory, and you are now free to do what you would. You could continue to play, or you could cash out. In a different scenario, let’s say you’re getting bored, or realizing that the style of game you’re playing is not to your liking. For example, if you’re not yet fully confident in your game and the stakes are a little too high for your comfort level. After that hand is over, you could also cash out, and look for another game that will suit you better.
Tournament play may have more prestige attached to it, but cash games allow you a lot of options and are definitely worth looking into.
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