The diff between cash game and tourney play

loopmeister

loopmeister

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I've read a few of the threads on this forum with topics like "cash game vs. tourneys" and while there is consensus that ring game and tourney strategies are different; I'm not at all clear as to what those differences actually are.
(I've read most of Harrington's stuff, so most of my play is informed by tournament strategy - which works o-kay in the cash games)

Hence this thread. I think it'd be simply smashing to have the strategy differences outlines side by side. Right here for us noobs' convenience.

For example:

TP : If you are ever less than 10 BB, you are in a shove/fold situation.
RP : You should never be <10BB - reload.

and so on.

Key questions that arise in my mind - Are you looser/tighter? Playing suited connectors / When do you go all-in/how often? and many more. TIA
 
stormswa

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well in a cash game you can rebuy chips anytime you wish so it would only make sense to always have max. In a tourney you cant so there are times when it is correct to push/fold.


basically the big difference in the two is in a tourney you buy in and the effect of not winning its directly affected in your bankroll. Unlike a cash game where not having a winning sitting has a direct and visible affect on your bankroll.

that is why there are only a few people that can do both, alot can handle the stress of one or the other but not both. What specifically do you want to know sir.
 
stormswa

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Key questions that arise in my mind -
Are you looser/tighter? everyone plays there own style of game both for cash games and tourneys this is too broad to answer.

Playing suited connectors / depends on situation, stack sizes, blinds etc

When do you go all-in/ see above.

how often? and many more. see above the above.
TIA


let me split this up. in red
 
skoldpadda

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A couple of key points IMHO:

1. Cash games $1 = $1. In tournaments, each extra $1 in chips you have is less than $1 in true value... as you know from Harrington (I think that's where I read it). So you generally want to avoid more marginal situations, especially early when your M value (Harrington) is high.

2. In tournament games, you have a limited supply of chips as you pointed out. So you have to be less inclined to play hands like suited middle connectors early. In a cash game, that is not the case and the implied odds (as Doyle points out in Super System) are thus much more favorable for their play. There is no M value in a cash game, only a Q value (I think that's what Harrington calls it) -- that is your stack size on the table compared to the others at your table. So, if you have a marginal holding like 89 suited and a guy with a large Q (who can double you up) raises and there is a caller also with a large Q, you're much better off calling his raise (Implied pot odds are large) than you are against a guy with 1/4 of your Q value who raises and gets another low Q caller.

There are many other differences, but those are a couple of the key ones I try to remind myself of in those situations.

So to answer one of your questions succinctly, you should play tighter IMHO in a tournament's early stages and looser (or more loose in general in certain situations) in a cash game.
 
hott_estelle

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Ditto as above (or Stormswa's post).

I think that every table is different, whether tourney or cash. I don't play a specific set style for either, you have to play by the situations, and know what is the best style that will fit that particular situation.
 
loopmeister

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I'm really just looking for general tips (like a Top 100); highlighting the main differences in playing style.
 
stormswa

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yea

I'm really just looking for general tips (like a Top 100); highlighting the main differences in playing style.

that is the point we are making, there is no top 100 differences in playing style.

its just poker!

some people play more aggresive in tourneys and some more in cash games, is either right or wrong? no. Its just how they play. In tourneys there are certain times when you are obligated to make certain plays and in cash games you are never obligated to do anything.

Like say you in tourney with A5 in BB and have 100k in chips and guy with 5k pushes all in and it costs you 3k to call. Now you have to call this.

in cash game if you have $200 in MONEY and guy with $10 pushes all in and is $8 to call then you may not call that because that is real money not chips.

alot of tourney players can not see that difference and they blow money left and right at cash games.
 
loopmeister

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How about this:

TP: It's often profitable to try and steal blinds on the button when the blinds are big and you're first in (Typical case K5o).
RG: Since you're so big-stacked, is this such a good idea? Or do you tighten your stealing range (Would you try it with K5o?)
 
J

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Here's a big difference: in cash games when you run out of money you go to cashier and reload, in tournaments when you run out of money you get knocked out. It sounds obvious, but you might not be aware of how this will affect decisions during your session. To make an example, lets say you're in cash game, you call a raise with KhQh, and the flop comes As8h2h, so you have a K high flush draw. You will now call any bet, or raise to get a free card, as long as you're getting the right odds. That same hand in a tourney is not necessarily a call (or raise) even if you're getting the correct odds, because you will also consider other factors like how many chips you have, how much will it cost you if you miss your draw, etc. That is a huge difference. Chasing your draws in tournaments can have devastating consequences to your stack, regardless if the odds are correct or not. Since I'm not exactly an expert, I can't explain every reason why ring vs tourney is very different, but trust me, you definitely need to make adjustments like the one I described in the example.
 
stormswa

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How about this:

TP: It's often profitable to try and steal blinds on the button when the blinds are big and you're first in (Typical case K5o).
RG: Since you're so big-stacked, is this such a good idea? Or do you tighten your stealing range (Would you try it with K5o?)


when you are deep in a tourney and there are antes then it is profitable to steal the blinds with something like K5 os because it is a favorite over a random hand in the blinds and you will take it more often then not so it is a +ev play.

BUT

you cant do this every time or it will become obvious what you are doing so every once and awhile you have to give the blinds a walk. You have to play situational poker, it is not smart to try to steal blinds from a very very small stack with garbage because they might be obligated to call you no matter what.

BUT AGAIN

everything is situational again, we need to know blind levels, stacks, how much is in pot. etc etc. Usually if you are going to try to steal blinds you need somewhat of a hand or a hand that could become a hand (wow that didn't make alot of sense to anyone but me). Like you might give the blinds a walk if you have 9-3 but will raise almost everytime with hands like 7d8d.
 
Irexes

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In a ring game, each hand exists as a separate entity. The amount of chips you win or lose equate directly to cash.

Also the blinds never change, so it is possible to wait and play "correct" poker as dictated by the cards and other players without pressure to make a move at any point.

You can sit for a table at hours and if the situation doesn't present itself then not take any risks and break even.

This means there is a "correct" way to play the hand, which is the one that in the long run wins you the largest amount of money or loses you the least.

There are also what are called metagame considerations, which relate to your table image and how your play affects other players. These are important but do not detract too much from each hand being a closed mathematical model which starts again each hand.


In a tournament the emphasis is slightly different for two reasons.

First the chips do not equate directly to cash. This means that sometimes (though definately not always) the correct move is not the one that makes the most chips in the long run. Instead you have to judge how the risk/reward of each hand relates to the likelihood of making the money or a moving up the cash and play accordingly. This can have the effect of making the correct play at various times in a tourney either tighter or looser than the same hand in a ring game.

It can also become correct to play for implied odds and speculate for the right price in order to build your stack. Play that in a ring game would be very fishy can be viable in a tourney because of the second difference.

This is the changing blind structure. Correct ring play may be to fold and wait for a better situatuation but in a tourney it is often the case that you need to accumulate chips or bust out.

As a result of this the metagame is extremely important in tournies. The relative size of stacks, the size of blinds and table image of yourself and others are all factors in helping to decide when to make a move or sit tight and wait.


In general the principals are the same in both and the differences can be subtle. Solid application of pot odds, patience and positive betting are key.

In the majority of cases the right play is going to be similar, however to overgeneralise a bit, in order to be a successful ring player you need to be extremely patient and very focussed on the long run and to be a successful tourney player you need to be very aware of the effects of the everchanging context of the game as the blinds rise. Successful tourney play also requires a lot more pushing all-in than good ring play.



Finally, just to add that I think that effective SnG (single table) play is another very different form of the game with it's own unique features and successful strategies.
 
loopmeister

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Yeah, baby! Now the ball is rolling! Keep 'em coming, and at the end, I'll summarise all the points into a wall o' wisdom. (With a suitable disclaimer to placate Stormswa that these are just general pointers and may be completely wrong in some cases and that players use them at their own risk etc etc)
 
stormswa

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hehe

Yeah, baby! Now the ball is rolling! Keep 'em coming, and at the end, I'll summarise all the points into a wall o' wisdom. (With a suitable disclaimer to placate Stormswa that these are just general pointers and may be completely wrong in some cases and that players use them at their own risk etc etc)



JERK, hehe just kidding.


if that is all you want why dont you just do a forum search on the subject. We have months and months of threads with tons of information in them that could help you compile this list of yours.
 
reglardave

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Always try and keep in mind that tourney play is a survival game first and foremost. In a 3-5 hour MTT online, for instance, the law of averages says that you will get X number of monster hands.....IF you're still around to see 'em.

Tom McEvoy puts it this way- to win a large turney, you have to get lucky, but you have to survive until the luck kicks in.
 
aliengenius

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Here is an interesting discussion of the strategy differences.
 
LadyLoon

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All very good advice . I learned a lot reading all the posts and referrals
 
dj11

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Don't forget the really obvious ones

Cash game, get up and leave with all your money at any time.
Tourney, You can get up and leave your money behind.
 
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