While many poker players think that it is realistic to make money through cash games of online poker, there are equal chances to make it big playing poker game tournaments. A majority of the players choose to specialize in one of the two formats, while the others comfortably swing between both the disciplines. So, what aspects should be considered before choosing a certain discipline in online poker?

First, let us know the basic differences between the two formats.

The Fundamentals of Cash Games and Poker Tournaments

Poker Tournaments

  • Must play until you run out of chips
  • Must be present during registration
  • Rebuys are not permitted unless the format says so
  • Blind levels increase at predetermined intervals

Cash Games

  • You can sit down and leave whenever you feel like
  • You can rebuy chips as per your discretion
  • Blind levels are static

The two fields do not have significant differences but this results in a major difference in the style of play. So, let’s discuss a few factors that should be taken into consideration before deciding which format to choose from.

Also Read : How to Play Poker

Time Commitment

It goes without saying that online cash games of poker give you the luxury to sit down and leave whenever you feel like, and if you don’t have much time this is the best option to choose. On the other hand, poker tournaments require you to give more than 8 hours in case you survive throughout the game. This is the case in most of the larger field MTTs.

So, online poker tournaments at the best poker site for those who are either professional players or someone who is sure about their time commitment.


A major section of professional players choose cash games of online poker over tournaments because the variance is a lot less in cash games. Although, you can put a check on the variance by playing smaller field events, if you are a regular MTT player, you have to get ready for some variance. A cash game player could play without any profits for over a month in extreme cases. An MTT player could go for over 6 months without making profits. This is the case for online regulars. For live tournament players, the time span could even increase to over a year.

However, it should be noted that there is a sense of prestige and acknowledgment associated with tourney players. Taking down a massive field MTT, reaching an FT filled with a poker pro is definitely a noteworthy achievement.


Both disciplines, cash games and poker tournaments require different skill sets. The differences mostly depend on the stack size. In cash games, players usually start with a pre-determined stack, in most cases 100bb. Also, in case your opponent is playing with a shallower stack, then you will have to change your course of action. However, generally, players play with 100bb. In cash games, players start with 100bb or even 150bb, but as the blind levels increase your stack will decrease significantly. This factor decreases the range of hands you can profitably play. In online poker tournaments, players play a decent amount of games where the chip stack gets below 20bb and this sends you to the push-or-fold stage. In this stage, players make only pre-flop decisions in poker tournaments as the stacks are not healthy enough to enter the turn or the river.

Playing with 20bb is a rare sight in cash games and therefore tourney players do develop a specific set of poker tips and skills to dodge such situations. Players use Nash and ICM strategies to calculate pre-flop push/fold ranges. It’s a difficult skill to incorporate in one’s gameplay but playing with 100bb needs a higher degree of skills according to the masses. Therefore, cash games of online poker are considered as a difficult format to play.

Players also feel that there is a time constraint in online poker tournaments because each hand starts with a different structure which is not the case in cash games. Thus, being a good cash game player cannot make you a good MTT player and vice versa. This is one of the major reasons why professional poker players decide to choose one option out of the two. Both the fields require a different set of skills and focusing on one helps you increase your potential. The other side of the coin here is that your experiences of the late-stage of poker tournaments will help you when you are short-stacked in cash games. Developing strong 100bb skills in cash games of online poker can help in the early stages of tourneys.

Therefore, choosing one field or making the most of both formats is the player’s decision to make