Cash games or tournaments or both?

Harry Truman's poker chips
Image via Wikipedia

Lately I have been having some discussions with other poker friends as to what type of poker games one should play in? Should a player concentrate on just cash games or play only in tournaments? Or should a player do both? Based on reading, talking and studying about the topic, it appears that there is no one correct answer.

There are two different mindsets for each type of game format. The actual game format is different as well. Generally, in a cash game, the size of the blinds and antes, if any, are fixed throughout the entire game. Whereas in a tourney, the blinds and antes increase at fixed intervals during the game.

In a cash game, you buy in for a certain amount which is usually based on a number of big blinds. You can play for as long as you have chips in front of you. If you run out of chips, you can buy more. You can leave whenever you want.

In a tourney, you buy in for a fixed amount and get a specific amount of chips for that buy in. You play until you either win all of the chips in the tourney or lose all of your chips. In some tourneys, you are allowed to rebuy chips for a certain time period or number of levels. Once that period is over, the only way to increase the number of chips is to win them. You cannot leave a tournament when you want to. You can leave when you no longer have any chips or have won them all.

In a cash game, it is easier to fold weak starting hands as the most you lose might be your big or small blind amount. It is fixed and does not change. In a tourney, your blinds increase at each level and you might be forced to play a hand you would not normally play because you are staring to run low of chips.

These are just some of the ways that cash games differ from tourneys and some players do better at one versus the other. There are only  a few that can play both formats successfully.

Are you a cash game specialist? Are you a tournament player? Do you play both? What is your preference?

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