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Author Topic: Cash vs. Tourney players  (Read 4736 times)
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« on: May 24, 2012, 07:11:15 PM »

The general consensus amongst the educated in the poker world is that cash game players are better than MTT players (we're leaving SnG out of this discussion), and with good reason - cash game players need to be patient, they're constantly looking at decisions in terms of big blinds (as opposed to stack size), along with a ton of other valid reasons.

I'd like to play Devil's Advocate for a second here though.  No, you won't catch me stating MTT players (well, the good ones, anyway) are better than cash players.  Rather, I'd like to point out that the two games are VERY different monsters, and therefore you can't compare the two - you're comparing apples and oranges, Texas Hold'em to Omaha.  Yes, there are some similarities, and to the casual observer one might think the differences are negligible - but they aren't.  Here's a look at some of them:

  • You can't just take your chips and leave.  While cash game players can (and often do) play for 8+ hours at a time, the simple fact is they can get up and leave whenever they want.  Need a piss break?  Sit out for as long as you (reasonably) want and return for the price of a single round of blinds.  If an MTT player needs a break, he needs to make it fast or he'll be blinded out.  Cash game players need patience in that they can't force a move, MTT players need patience in that once they buy in, they are knowingly starting a marathon.
  • Blinds go up. This simple fact changes the game drastically.  You play much different with a stack of 30 blinds than you do with 100 blinds, even if in both situations your opponents have the same relative stack.  While it's true that decreasing the relative stack sizes will increase the luck factor, a skilled MTT player will know when to apply pressure and force an opponent to make a move, where cash game players simply don't have that luxury.
  • There's an endgame in MTTs.If you're playing a cash game, you can play for 12 hours straight, and while the opponents may change, the fact is you're almost constantly playing a full table (whether that be 6 or 9 handed). While you need to adjust to the different opponents styles of play, you don't need to adjust to a different number of players.  Not the case in the end of an MTT.  As tables go shorthanded, then condense, rather, rinse, repeat, you are regularly going from 9-handed down to 6 and back up to 9 again....before whittling it down to heads up play.
  • There's the luck factor.Simply the fact that only the top tier of finishers in an MTT will win big money (while others will win very little, or more likely nothing at all) changes things a lot.  If a cash game player has a bad session, he can chalk it up to variance, make adjustments as needed, and win the next day.  An MTT player can go through hundreds of tournaments barely breaking even before hitting a big score to make it all worth it.  To go through that long of a drought, through no fault of your own, is demoralizing and emotionallly exhausting, and it takes a lot to persevere through it all until you land the big one.

So, would a cash game player beat an MTT player of equal skill level?  Sure thing...on the cash tables.  Move the game to an MTT and the MTT player wins, hands down.
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2012, 02:05:31 PM »

Obviously this is pretty much spot on, but as I mentioned on THF in a similar thread, cash players tend to adapt better to tournament play and seem more naturally inclined to play agressively making those that understand how the MTT players think and play, very formidable and successfull players. 

I think the main reason for this is because good cash players know a lot more about extracting value and tend to avoid getting into spots where the risk is not worth the reward.  They are also more comfortable playing a big stack where a lot of tourney players would sit and wait to trap (set mine mostly). 
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