There’s a big difference between cash and tournamentplay, I suppose you know that by now. But exactly what is it that makes the difference? Allow me to let you in on some of the secrets.
First of all you need to understand the difference of the value of chips. In a cash game you need to slowly accumulate more chips, as they represent your income. But in a tournament it’s quite different because the chips represent your strength at the table rather than your actual income. Since in a tournament the blinds go up and players fall off, the value of chips decreases, where in a cash game they would always represent the same Euro’s.
In a tournament you’ll want to survive, and in an ideal world knock other players out of the game so you get closer to the money, where in a cash game you want to keep the players in so they can keep on bringing you their money.
Also, in a cash game you should be less inclined to be moving all in because a lot of the times there’s just no need to. In a tournament you often need to protect your hand by moving in, and the threat of being knocked off is often enough to get the other player to lay down his hand. But in a cash game, where the blinds remain the same and the objective is not to eliminate opponents, you should be a little more conservative with the all-in approach.
But to make it easy, things are different when it comes to calling an all-in, as opposed to moving all-in.
Let me give you an example: Suppose you are holding 99 pre flop and your opponent, who has you covered in chips, moves all-in. Suppose for arguments sake you are dead sure he is holding AKo. In a cash game you would technically be more inclined to call since this coinflip is giving you 53% vs. 47% chance of winning. So if you would play this exact same hand 100 times it would be profitable 53 to 47 times.
But take this exact same situation in a tournament and you would be losing your entire buy in 47 times and doubling up your stack 53 times. But this doubled up stack doesn’t represent a double chance of winning the tournament. In fact, if you would wait for a few hours (or in some tournaments a few minutes) these chips you’ve just won are nothing more than one big blind. So you’ve risked all for a small added chance of winning.
Now the same example but this time you are holding the AKo and you think you’re up against a medium pair. If I would be playing a tournament I would me more likely to move all-in in this situation than in a cash game since in the tournament taking down the pot right there is more important so you don’t run any risk of getting out drawn (you have to survive), while in the cash game you could take the statistical odds, which are in your favor in this situation, to play down the hand for even more money.
One more important factor is that, as the blinds remain the same in a cash game, the play doesn’t change. In a tournament, where players get eliminated an the blinds go up, the action does accordingly. This holds especially true in a small Sit & Go where the size of the table decreases with the players who get eliminated (in other words, the vacant seats at the table aren’t filled). In these tournaments your play should be constantly adapted to the amount of players and to the varying value of the blinds. In a cash game you would obviously have to vary your play according to the different types of players at the table and to make sure you won’t become predictable, but, all considered, a cash game requires a different tactic than a tournament, because you can get up from the table and take small losses, as opposed to a tourney where you play until you are eliminated (and leave your by-in behind), so you have to be really careful not to waste good money when you’re playing a cash game.
Think about these principles whenever you feel ready to switch from the comfort of your preferred game. In fact, I encourage you to do so because it will make you a better player altogether.