Tournament play versus ring games

In general, there are two different styles of poker games. There are ring games (also known as cash games) and Tournaments. Of course, with the recent poker boom with the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker, tournament play is very popular. There are a lot of folks out there that have no idea that ring games even exist. There are a lot of differences between the two. A tournament is not the same playing style as a cash game. They call for completely different strategies for a variety of different reasons.

Tournament Poker

A tournament is a poker game that is set up in a very specific way. There will be a number of players that sign up and they will be able to buy in for the set amount of money. The entry fee will cover the prize money along with the fee that will normally go to the house. In exchange for your buy in, you get a seat in the tournament and a stack of chips. All of the players that buy in to the tournament will start with the same amount of chips. The last player standing will be the winner. As you lose your chips, you will be eliminated.

When playing in a tournament, you are racing against time as well as against your opponents. The blinds start out at a certain amount and then they raise every so often. Normally they raise anywhere from between 10 minutes to 30 minutes apart and they normally double. If you sit around and do not play any hands for a really long time, then you will find that you will start to lose to the blinds. That greatly affects the strategy of the game when playing in a tournament.

The ultimate goal of any tournament player is to win the tournament along with the money. The secondary goal of any tournament player is to get into the money positions. Almost all tournaments have a specific percentage of the playing field that will get paid. For example, the top ten players may get money. The higher up you climb in position, the more money you would get. In a lot of the big tournaments, it is a great accomplishment just to last long enough to make it into the money. The payout is also usually pretty good.

Ring Game Poker

The other type of poker game is called a ring game or cash game. The big difference here, is that you are playing for cash on the table. You will cash in X amount of dollars in exchange for chips that have equal value. The goal here is to make as much money as possible. There is no time limit in this game. You can sit at the table for 30 hours straight and the blinds will not raise one single time. The limits are set before you sit down at the table, and the blinds are structured before as well.

The biggest difference here, is that you can cash out whenever you want to. As mentioned before, the blinds do not raise. In this game style, you can be a lot more patient and you can play a completely different style. The goal here is to win consistently and play the odds. Most professional poker players make their living at these kinds of tables. They get the fame from the tournaments, and the big pay check from the Ring Games.

Understanding the differences between a ring game and a tournament will save you from a lot of frustration. You definitely do not want to go into a cash game with the mentality that you are playing in a tournament. They are completely different games.

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