Tournament Poker versus Ring Games

by PokerFanatic | posted in Poker articles

Tournament and Ring game

Poker tournaments are a different ball game altogether when compared to a poker ring games. Tournaments are different because they need to be played with the help of a strategy that is completely unlike what would be used to play the usual game of poker. First of all, let us look at the distinctions between a poker tournament and a normal game of poker. A Poker tournament is a structured competition wherein the players will compete against each other to collect all the chips. A ring game is a regular game at the casino where the hands are unrelated to each other. The player can quit as and when he chooses to. In a tournament, the play will continue till there is a definite winner; players cannot cash out their chips before that happens.

There are various kinds of Poker tournaments which we will take a look at. The most commonly found tournaments on the poker scene are the ‘Freeze Out’ or ‘Elimination tournaments’. In these tournaments, all the players start out with the same number of chips. The game progresses as the players are eliminated and the remaining players are seated at fewer and fewer tables. The game continues till one of them has amassed all the chips – he is the winner. Although the winner is only one player, the payouts will reward several players from the final table.

In the ‘Rebuy’ tournaments, players who lose chips are allowed to re-buy more chips for an initial period of time, say for about two hours into the game, and continue to play. Such tournaments often have large prize pools due to the re-buys. Another type is the ‘Shootout tournament’. Here, the format varies a little from the elimination tournament. Each table plays till there is a single winner. Then the winners of each table will compete in an elimination style or a shootout competition till a winner emerges. Shootout tournaments usually last for a short duration of time. ‘Satellite’ tournaments are preliminaries to another tournament. For example, before a tournament having an entry of $1000, ten players will put up $100 each and the winner of this mini tournament will go on to participate in the main event.

The strategy for ring games and tournaments may be somewhat similar, but you would need a special kind of tactical thought process, different types of action and preparation for a poker tournament. Often, poker players who win at ring games lose badly at tournaments. This happens because they fail to see the differences and modify their play strategy accordingly. A successful ring game player may be playing the poker tournament the same way he plays at the ring game – he will definitely lose at the tournament because of his inability to adjust his game.

In a regular poker card game, you must have the proper bankroll. If you play correctly and have the adequate bankroll, you are bound to win at most of your games. However, this strategy usually does not work for a poker tournament; here, hardly any player has the appropriate bankroll, more often it is way too small to absorb the fluctuations in the game. So, at a tournament, you are expected to play by adjusting your strategy to this fact.

Poker tournament winners may often lose at ring games. Again, they are not adjusting – they cannot accept losing a pot. They are used to winning some of the pots at tournaments. At a regular poker game on the other hand, surrendering pots at the right juncture is a skill. You need to have consistency, dedication, repetition and make mathematically correct play. You also require to play better than your opponents, day in and day out. Tournaments on the other hand, seize the opportunity and look for the inspiration to find a successful strategy in a critical situation. Hence, different skill sets are necessary to win in both the types of poker games.

Outstanding poker players usually enjoy a winning spree because they adapt to the circumstances. They understand the differences involved in a normal game of poker and tournament poker and they play accordingly. Interestingly, tournament winners are often successful ring game players who have put in more hours at the ring games than at the tournaments. So, you can’t say it is the practice that has given them the wins, but it is their ability to adjust to the situation and seize an opportunity when they see one.

It is a fact that ring game players win most of the times while tournament winners lose most of the time. Players of the normal poker game cannot accept the fact of losing more often than winning. If this skill of accepting defeat is mastered, then there is no reason why a person cannot succeed at both, poker tournaments or poker ring games. It just takes a proper psychological attitude to do well at both. Therefore, the secret of being successful at both is to play well always but not to play the same always.

Winning at poker is a matter of putting in lots of efforts and lots of hours. There is nothing glamorous about it if you want to make your money at playing poker, whether it is tournaments or ring games. Top poker players make good use of their time by playing in tournaments, they make good use of their skills too. However, since tournaments do not happen round the clock at traditional casinos, players cannot afford to put in all the time to play only tournament poker. Yet, they manage to make their money by playing at ring games as well.

Trying to decide whether ring games are better or whether tournament poker is better is like comparing a sprinter with a distance runner. There is no real comparison. Poker in itself is a process of cause and effect; it is a lifetime of effort and learning. Of course, you must also enjoy the challenges and thrills of the game whether you play tournament poker or whether you prefer ring games.

So where should you choose to play at if you want to play online poker tournaments, and where should you play if you want to play online poker cash games?

I play both tournaments and cash games myself, and i play at different sites depending on what what form of poker i am playing.
As a tournament player it is more attractive to play at many different sites, compared to being a cash game player.
And why it is so is very simple.
As a tournament player you want to find a tournament that suits you, whether is a small buyin, high buyin, normal tournament, rebuy tournament, satellite tournament etc. etc.
But as a cash game player there can be huge advantages from sticking to one site so that you can participate in the different poker rake races that the poker room have to offer.

For tournament players i can recommend a mix of the following sites:

Party Poker
Good for both cash games and tournaments.
Now that Party Gaming also owns the WPT rights there are some awsome poker satellite tournaments to the different World Poker Tour events.

Ladbrokes
Great structure in their Irish Open Poker Satellite Tournaments.
Many guaranteed tournaments for both small stakes players and high limit players.

Pokerstars
The biggest online poker site in the world, and they accept players from the US.
They host the famous online poker tournament the sunday million, where you got the chance to win some serious bucks for a $200 buyin.
There are constantly running satellite tournaments, and guranteed prize pool tournaments 24/7.

For cash game players i recommend Full Tilt Poker where i personally have most success at the cash game tables.

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