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Is there a different between playing cash games and tournaments?

Many people ask is there a difference between playing cash games and tournaments, and the simple answer to this question is there is a huge difference. In fact, you only need to look at the professionals to see that this is the case. Some professionals can dominate just about any tournament they enter, but put them on a cash table and they look lost and vice versa, but why?

In a tournament survival is everything (unless it is a re-buy), on a cash table you can top-up

The main difference between tournaments and cash tables is that in a tournament once you lose all your chips you are out. On a cash table, you want to be getting your chips in with a 70% advantage, because if you do this, you will win more than you lose (statistically). However, in a tournament, while it is still important to get your chips in while you are ahead, if you all in, and you are 70% you will exit the tournament 30% of the time, which sounds like good odds, but then look at this:

First time: 70% of the time you win.

Second: 80% of 70% you win, and remain in the tournament 56%.

Third: 70% of 56% you win are still in the game 39.2%.

If you go all in three times, even if you are 70% every time, you will only remain in the tournament less than 40% of the time.

Picking up blinds can be important in a tournament

Look at this example; your stack is 10,000 and you are on the button, and the SB and BB are 1,000 and 2,000, if you press all in and take down the blinds you have increased your stack by 30%. Squeeze play can be a real difference maker in tournaments. However, doing this on a cash table is pointless because even if your stack is $10 picking up $3 is irrelevant because you can top up and $3 shouldn’t be making a difference to your balance if you are playing in your bankroll.

These are just two of dozens of points why playing cash and tournaments are completely different. However, the most valuable tip is if you are good at tournaments and poor on cash tables, stick to tournaments and vice versa.

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