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  • Tourneys or cash games?

    Just curious, as this site seems to have a strong bias towards tourneys. Compared to cash games, tourneys have massive overheads, expensive entry fees, huge variance and annoying time constraints (depending on your cards, you could be playing for three days or 30 minutes.) I personally only play cash, and pre-covid was averaging about $80/hr (average has been steadily creeping upward.) I personally know several cash game pros making a similar or even higher amount, and no tourney pros apart from the few big names everyone else has heard of. So tourney pros - what's the attraction please?

  • #2
    I'd have never called myself a MTT pro, semi pro a few times in between full-time jobs. But for me the attraction was:-
    - having a target / definite end goal i.e. makaing FTs and top 3 finish
    - the buzz of 'winning' a tournament (the downside to this is if you finish anywhere but 1st there is always a bit of disappointment)
    - The general field is softer than online cash at similar stake level
    - the chance of a one off 'big' score
    - the variable strategies depending on stack size, stage of the tournament ect

    I have recently switched to cash for all the reasons you stated i.e. time constraints, variance ect but at some point will go back to MTTs or at least play a mixture of both once I have built a BR back up.

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    • #3
      often wondered why people play tourneys myself

      believe many people who play tourney can't beat cash

      cash seems to be a bigger grind ..

      if I'm a losing player left and right, maybe tourneys are more exciting ??? I don't even know why I play anymore
      Last edited by CrazyEddie Reloaded; 06-28-2020, 08:37 AM.

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      • CrazyEddie Reloaded
        CrazyEddie Reloaded commented
        Editing a comment
        I do better now in cash games than before... not good enough to cash $$ / hr. When I do, if I do ... maybe I stop playing tourneys myself ?

        Maybe not

    • #4
      I used to play tourneys casually a few years back, but only at the very small stakes. My best result was taking down the Pokerstars $7.50 bounty builder for ~$2k which is very small for most people, but the enjoyment and sense of accomplishment is greater than anything I have ever experienced grinding cash games.

      If I had the time I would much prefer to focus on MTTs, but I've only got a couple of hours a day and so they just don't work for me.

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      • #5
        Cash games are predatory hustles in a way that tournaments simply are not.Cash game regs of necessity are always looking out for the weaker players, the unguardedly splashy ones, the whales, and so on. A person might have severe moral qualms about developing the skills to excel in cash games. Tournaments do not have this problem.

        Tournaments have the significant disadvantage of being extremely high variance. A typical player is going to bust out for no return at all 90% of the time, and only rarely win enough money to even come close to making up their regular losses. Overall profit in tournaments comes from the top spots, and those are difficult for even the good players to hit. A reasonable cash game bankroll might be as small as 20 buy-ins; a tournament bankroll has to be something on the order of two hundred buy-ins.

        If more than money matters to you, success in cash games generally goes unrecognized. For the most part, the celebrities in poker are the people who win tournaments. If you want recognition, reputation, and the benefits that come with them (sponsorships, training site gigs, coaching, etc.) the way to go is to play tournaments -- unless you do something else to build a reputation, like writing, blogging, vlogging, commentating on streams, etc.

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        • #6
          Some interesting responses. Maybe the wisest course for those who want to play tourneys is to do what JL himself seems to have done, which is become a pro at cash games first while taking occasional shots at tourneys. He was saying a while back that he was playing twelve hours a day at the Bellagio and making about $120/hr at 5/10 and $140/hr (?) at 10/20. Personally I have zero overhead playing cash - the casino is close by so I walk, and I even take my own bottled water. And I invest all my winnings - my financial advisor's recommendations are up an average of 65% over the last 18 months, even after the Covid crash.

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          • CrazyEddie Reloaded
            CrazyEddie Reloaded commented
            Editing a comment
            cash won't prepare u for mtt. Tournaments alot of nuances. u need to be pretty sharp ... But if already winning $, why bother

            I never dreamed of holding up trophy ... fall down crying silly
            Last edited by CrazyEddie Reloaded; 06-29-2020, 03:14 AM.

        • #7
          "cash won't prepare u for mtt." Actually the early stages of a tournament are almost identical to cash games.

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          • Turbulence
            Turbulence commented
            Editing a comment
            this is true - but you can't win an MTT in the early stages, and that is where a lot of cash players fall down. Knowing how to navigate the mid to late stages with less than 30bbs is how you make money playing MTTs because that is what you will have most of the time.

        • #8
          Another big negative on tournaments if you're in the US would be having to pay taxes. Or do the casinos there monitor cash game players winnings? Not residing in the 'Land of the Free' myself I'm not sure.

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          • Dilly
            Dilly commented
            Editing a comment
            *DISCLAIMER* I am not advising anybody do anything like tax evasion. But, the casinos do attempt to track significant cash winning, at least at Borgata they do. They record it any time you cash out $5K+ at the cage

          • kkep
            kkep commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes as Dilly said Casino's here report winnings over $5000 but some of us wink wink have plenty of losing stubs to write those off

            I have to claim around $15,000 whenever I get around to doing my taxes this year but I'm guessing I can find at least $10,000 in loses
            to help offset that and all those little wins in-between remain a secret.

            Casino's here don't monitor cash games. At least not at the stakes I play. They have no idea how much we buy in for so they can't force us to claim the money we cash out for. For all they know we could be cashing out for $7000 but fired several bullets at a table for $10,000.

        • #9
          Interesting Dilly - based on that then I'd assume it's a virtual impossibility for any authority to know how much a non-high-roller cash player is winning, or even if he's winning at all?

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          • Dilly
            Dilly commented
            Editing a comment
            I would say that's probably true. Even if you are cashing out $5K+ like Kkep said they can't actually prove how much of that is profit since they don't track buy ins. I guess in theory if the casino reports a certain amount of $5K+ cashouts to the IRS, and you claim nothing on your taxes it could get flagged....are you required to claim losses if you're not profitable? If you are that could be an issue.....what's to stop someone who works full time job, also claiming income from poker, and then some years they just happen to lose enough to bring their taxable income into a lower tax bracket? I swear I'm not sitting here brainstorming tax evasion :P

          • kkep
            kkep commented
            Editing a comment
            So I had enough right offs in previous years that I didn't need to bother with gambling losses. I suspect this year is going to be different because of this COVID and my working situation. But I think you can only right off gambling losses to offset gambling wins. Traveling Pros did get to deduct expenses too (that may have changed). I know that the new tax law in 2018 or whenever effected 'professional gamblers' but I don't know to what extent.

        • #10
          So 30BB is the make or break , that explains how people play so many tables. Early stages are a waste of time anyway. So we register late when everyone dwindles down to 30BB.

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          • #11
            A recent comment from Jonathan Little: "I would tell you to stay away from tournaments in general, especially if your goal is to build a bankroll. You should be playing cash games where the winnings are going to be very consistent." https://pokercoaching.com/classes/no...-office-hours/ Nov 2, 2020.

            Yet this site is HEAVILY weighted in favor of tourneys - e.g. of 1076 quizzes, almost 800 are for tourneys! Is this due to the coaches preferences or demand from users?

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            • #12
              Very surprised to hear him say that.

              He's also spoken at length about how MTTs are actually way more profitable because of the softer fields (and less chance of bot-infestation).

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              • #13
                Originally posted by LondonImp View Post
                Very surprised to hear him say that.

                He's also spoken at length about how MTTs are actually way more profitable because of the softer fields (and less chance of bot-infestation).
                He's talking about LIVE cash - ZERO chance of bot infestation there I'm pretty sure...

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                • #14
                  The two statements aren't contradictory though, cash games are way tougher in general, but once you're beating them you tend to win in a more consistent fashion. MTTs have softer fields in general, but even when you're beating them the variance is very high. The real advantage is you can play much higher stakes in MTTs before encountering realllllly tough fields.

                  If we played 50 weeks a year, 5 days a week, 20 MTTs a day at avg buy in of $600 with a 15% ROI we would profit $450K.

                  To do the same in cash we would need to play 500h/hr (about 6 tabling) 500NL with a win rate of 9BB/100--this would be wayyyyyyyy tougher than the MTT option.

                  It all depends on what your goals are though. But if you're goal is to make the most money possible in the long run, I'm reasonably confident the easiest way to do it is work a job until you have a decentish bankroll for live 1/2, grind that up until you have a bankroll big enough to play reasonable buy in MTTs online. Then study a ton for a while and make the switch.

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                  • #15
                    I always say "I play cash games to make enough money to buy into tournaments."

                    Cash games are definitely more profitable, but they just aren't as much fun to me. I get much more of a buzz out of grinding away 4 hours in a $100 buyin tourney and cashing for $300 than sitting at a cash game and buying in for $200 and getting up with $400. It's the same $200 profit, but it just doesn't feel like I "earned it," in the same way.

                    Cash game: Played tight. Flopped a set. Stacked a guy. Yay.

                    In a tournament it feels more like competition and you have to really outplay people to get the chips. And, of course, there is no cash game equivalent to actually winning a tournament.

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                    • #16
                      450k? rosy tinted glasses

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                      • Dilly
                        Dilly commented
                        Editing a comment
                        It's just a math problem lol. If you want to change the inputs to something you find more reasonable, the point still stands, we hit a ceiling in how tough the games get much faster in online cash than MTTs

                    • #17
                      I greatly prefer the tournament structure but it's rare I have 4+ hours of mostly undivided attention to give to it - let alone enough to put in any serious volume. I like cash because I can play online for 90 minutes and walk away, come back when I'm ready, etc. I'd also argue cash game skill are more relevant for most players to make money, at least short term. You can study and beat live 1/2 or 1/3 reasonably quickly and make $20-30 an hour where it would take a long time to get to that level in online tournaments. If you play 20 $50 MTTS a day with the 15% ROI noted above that's only $150 profit daily. If you put in 10 hours on this (likely longer) that's only $15/hr. Bank roll requirements would be similar in both scenarios.

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