Should You play for cash online or in tournaments?

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One of the questions that aspiring poker players out there ask is whether to play a cash game of tournament poker. Which one is better ultimately depends on which you prefer and suits your skill set.

Both are a great way to enjoy poker and both are readily available on line these days. They are very different when you look at their formats, and the skills needed to be successful also different.

Here we’re going to go over the pros and for both formats, to help you decide which is most suitable for you and ultimately which will make you the most money.

Poker Tournaments


  • If you win then you will win big. Unfortunately this won’t always happen because tournaments have a lot of people entering them, but if you do manage to finish in the top three then you can expect to see your initial stake multiply by a huge amount.
  • Play against recreational players like yourself and not pros. Recreational players enjoy taking part in poker tournaments because they see it as an experience. A lot of people enter in the hope of making the final table where you can really test your skills.
  • You’ll find yourself playing high stakes against some very weak players. At first glance you would imagine that the weaker players will drop out of tournaments quickly, this however is not the case. Due to the short stack in tournaments and high variance, you’ll find a lot of very weak players go far accidentally. This is what makes tournaments good for recreational players and the regular players; recreational players chase the dream of the final table and regular players get to go up against weaker players to raise their initial stake.

 Cash Games


  • In tournaments you have to follow a fixed schedule and once it starts you are locked in. For cash games you can join a table and stay as long as you like. So if you want to quickly play for 30 minutes or have a marathon session it’s completely up to you, cash games give you the freedom to work around your lifestyle. When you hear someone talk about poker players having lifestyle with freedom, they are always talking about cash game players.
  • Cash games allow the player to me more analytical. In tournaments blind levels increase and pay jumps happen. In cash games you don’t have to worry about this that means you can focus on your post flop game, and also work out your opponents and exploit any weaknesses.
  • In cash games you get a lot less swings. It’s easy for a very good tournament player to have a bad year because of the downswings they face. Whereas it’s pretty much impossible for a decent cash game player to go on a similar bad run, that is if they have enough money to bankroll the recovery. 

Which format do you prefer and why? Put your thoughts in the comment section below this article.