Are online poker tournaments easier than cash games?
It is no surprise that online poker cash games have become much tougher to beat within the last decade. The reasons are a combination of increased player skill, which is the most influential factor towards the increase in difficulty of online cash, increases in rake as a general trend across poker sites, and one last factor which many people overlook. The fact is, many of the players who were the most egregious losers at poker simply reached a threshold where they became too fed up with the amount they lost or simply ran out of money to donate.
This last point is key to understanding the difference between poker tournaments and poker cash games.
Are cash games harder than tournaments?
In general? Yes. Cash games are considered to be much tougher than multi-table tournaments (MTTs) online. Please do note that when we are talking about tournaments, we are talking about MTTs. Sit and Go’s are considered to be equal to cash games in difficulty to the smaller edges that are possible to achieve in the formats. The quicker the formats, such as hyper turbo sit and go’s, the more difficult the competition will be and the smaller the edges that are possible.
What makes tournaments easier than cash games?
The players. It is as simple as that. Players that lose money have a hard time deluding themselves when they play cash games, especially shorthanded tables or heads up cash. What makes bad players flock to tournaments?
The appeal of one big score
Professional poker players hate when a weak player does well in a tournament. If you are sitting at a cash game and a fish doubles or triples up, it is wonderful. Even if they leave the table with their winnings, they are likely to come back the next day and lose it all. When a fish wins a tournament, that money is going towards actual property, paying off debt, or investments. Some portion of it will go back into the poker ecosystem, but not all of it. Tournaments have huge amounts of money compared to the buy in for the first couple of places. For losing players who are often more of the gambling type, the appeal of a big score is irresistible. Tournament prize pools bring gamblers to the table.
The idea that you put in the buyin and cannot lose any more
A losing player becomes weary of buying in to a cash game over and over as they lose their stack. It is much more appealing to know that they can pay the tournament entry fee and have potentially hours of fun, knowing that it is impossible to lose more than they have bought in for.
Tournaments make it difficult to tell how good you are because of variance
MTT professionals often have higher hourly win rates than cash game pros. However, this comes at a cost. The cost is variance. Because of the way that the prize pools of tournaments are set up, a single big score can equal an entire years worth of work. The luck factor in tournaments make it a very high variance way to earn a living. At the same time, this allows weaker players to win big and not realize they are actual very bad at the game.
Hold on – someone told me that MTTs are tougher than cash!
It is true that there are more concepts to learn when playing MTTs. While deepstack play is similar to poker cash game strategy, you need to learn concepts that are advanced to win at the later stages of MTTs. We recommend the Poker Bank for an explanation of one of the concepts, the Independent Chip Model.
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