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Tournaments or Cash Games?

Discussion in 'Home Game General' started by echoseven, Aug 6, 2015.

  1. echoseven

    echoseven New Member

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    Hi all, I've been lurking for a while, but this is my first post. If there's already a thread somewhere that discusses this, feel free to point me in that direction.

    I used to play a lot of poker about 10 years ago and I've been thinking lately about getting a regular game going with some friends. I'm trying to decide whether tournaments or cash games would be better for us and in turn what chip denominations to buy. I haven't played many cash games, I pretty much only played tournaments back in the day, but I like that they could potentially be a bit more laid back than tournaments. Don't have to worry about blind schedules, people could come late or leave early, etc. This is probably just personal preference and I'll probably just need to talk to the group about what they'd prefer, but I'm curious what you all think. What do you usually play and what do you like/dislike about each?
     
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  2. abby99

    abby99 Admin / Chip Magpie
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    Welcome to ChipTalk!

    Cash games are easier to host, based on my experience with hosting both. Personally, I prefer cash games because I find tournaments to be very stressful. Other players prefer tournaments because their loss is capped to the buyin (plus rebuys if applicable), and of course there are many players who will happily play either.

    The chip denominations will depend not only on whether you play cash games or tournaments, but also on the stakes and the type of game (e.g., limit vs NL/PL, mixed games vs all NLHE, etc.). If you schedule tournaments followed by cash games, having separate chip sets is recommended to avoid higher-denominated tournament chips finding their way into the cash game and causing a shortage in the bank.

    Yes, do ask your friends. If you spread the games that they prefer, they'll keep coming back. :)
     
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  3. Trihonda

    Trihonda Well-Known Member

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    Abby provided great advice. Follow it to the T :)

    Ya, tournaments can be fun for some people, paying like $20-30 and getting mountains of chips to play with... But cash games are easier by far to host (for the reasons both you and Abby mentioned). Like Abby said, poll your people, see what they think. Those that respond will likely be the only ones who will care which game you host. The others will probably come to either. Don't forget to ask about preferred stakes/buyins.
     
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  4. steverino

    steverino Well-Known Member

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    Our game is mostly tournaments, but once a few people have busted out there is always a cash game set up.
     
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  5. echoseven

    echoseven New Member

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    Thanks for the advice! We'll generally play pretty low stakes $20 buy in or less, mainly NLHE. I'm leaning towards cash games, but I'll run it by my friends to get their thoughts. I had thought about getting a set that could be used for both, like maybe use the $25 chip for a quarter when playing cash, but Abby makes a good point about having two sets so maybe I'll go that route. The more chips the better, right?
     
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  6. abby99

    abby99 Admin / Chip Magpie
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    Exactly! :)
     
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  7. Trihonda

    Trihonda Well-Known Member

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    Using the same set for both is HUGE no-no. Security reasons for sure. Not that any of your friends would take advantage, but knowing that it's not possible (removes the opportunity) and will make people feel better about it.

    But ya, more chippies is better
     
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  8. phantom

    phantom Well-Known Member

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    I also started with tournaments, and have moved to cash games. The play is so much better and it is a much more social atmosphere. I have $20-$25 buy-in as well, so no one feels they are going to lose their house, car or pants. Most people leave with at least half their buy-in anyway, so it is a good night. Most people don't think about spending $30+ on a bad meal, followed by a bad movie, followed by a bad coffee, followed by a bad ... So, in summary, cash games good, Hitler bad.

    Good luck.
    Ad
     
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  9. echoseven

    echoseven New Member

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    Hadn't really thought about security. Would the concern be that someone would hold on to some higher denom tournament chips and bring them into a cash game?

    This is definitely what I'm going for. Just having an excuse to hang out with friends is a big reason I want to get this game started.
     
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  10. QuiQuog

    QuiQuog Well-Known Member

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    I have a set that I have used for tourneys and cash games. I had thought that since we don't have cash games after the tourney, the problem of mixing tourney chips and cash chips was moot. I hadn't thought about somebody skimming a couple 20's (accident or otherwise) and bringing them on a cash night. I guess I trust my friends, but now I have a cash set anyway. If somebody holds out a cash chip and brings it another night, it's okay because they already paid for it anyway, assuming they didn't rob the chip cage.
     
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  11. Anthony

    Anthony Active Member

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    I prefer tournaments between friends as I don't feel so bad taking money from them whereas in cash games I do, haha.
     
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  12. TexRex

    TexRex Well-Known Member

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    Several years ago, we started a cash game. Then we tried a tournament. We ultimately dropped the cash games just because we found it easier to get players to come to a tournament. I've not played cash in years now. I personally prefer tournaments, but cash is easier to host, especially if the tournament is multi-table.

    What I'd do is poll players and try to find out what they prefer. For us, we found it was just much easier to get players to come to a tournament, but other groups are different.

    To me, there are tournament chips and cash chips, and never the twain should meet! I've discussed why before, but chip migration can happen even accidentally. Best example I've seen. In multi-table tournament, just before first color up, one player wins a pot with a mound of chips, but table is bumped and his chips wind up on the floor. He and others pick them up, tournament continues.

    When enough are KO'd, a cash game starts at that table. Person in same seat wins a pile of chips, table bumped, and chips all over floor. He picks up chips. Late in cash game, it is discovered that there is $25 more in chips than in cash. Some have cashed out. No one cheated. The first chip dump missed a chip, and it got scooped on the cash game. Absolutely zero chance of that happening with two different chip sets.

    I also think denominated chips help, but still need two different sets.

    Tournament chips are fantasy values. As tourney goes on, they become worth less and less as blinds go up. Cash chips are cash value and their value doesn't change as the game goes one.
     
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  13. justsomedude

    justsomedude Well-Known Member

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    My experience is the same as TexRex's... we started cash games, and now we play monthly tournaments. There are a few reasons for this:


    1. Low Stakes / Tight Games. When playing with $20 or $40 buyins and 6 or 8 people, unless you have people who are comfortable with the game, the new guys will play tight. After 5 or 6 hours, it's not much fun only leaving with an extra 10 or 15 bucks. What's the point?

    2. Big Pot. Even with only a $20 or $40 buyin, you can easily get a $300 - $500 pot with a tournament (assuming you have space for, and can run, two tables). With the bigger pot, and the increasing blinds, people are motivated to play better and work through hands. Even with only 9 guys and a single table, you can still hit $250 in a pot (including rebuys). Payouts for 1st, 2nd, 3rd are big motivators to stay late and play ... it's much more enticing when you could potentially score $150 as opposed to an extra $10 or $15 on top of your buyin.

    3. Cash Outs. Cash games can be very fluid with players cashing in/out -- whereas tournaments require you to play until you bust. While it may be more difficult to get people to commit to a longer game, it's more fun. This way, you know people are in for the long haul - whereas with a cash game, you may get people cashing out early for "other plans" on their calendar. It sounds like you see this as a "pro." Personally, I see it as a "con" to cash games, as one minute you are 7 handed, the next minute, you're 4 handed and no one wants to play.

    4. Social Aspect / Instruction Time. Cash games can be tight from the get go, as people are playing with their hard earned dollars. With a tournament, you can build in some instruction/fun time. We intentionally start with ultra low (25/50 and 50/100) blind levels -- this gives us an hour or so of low-key social time before the game gets "serious." We prefer this to the "tight fest" that cash games can be (when dealing with newbies). These ultra low levels (relative to a 10k starting stack) give everyone some good social/beer drinking time, and the new guys time to warm up.


    You'll need to tailor your game to your group, but I have a lot of friends who are new parents and on tight budgets. They just aren't interested in throwing around $50 or $100 to play poker once a month. Our $20 tournament fits in their budget, while giving them a nice pot to entice them to play for - along with an entire evening of entertainment. Side note - we recently upped our buyins to include pizza (paid for from the pot)... and it's worked well.

    That's how we roll. Hope this helps.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
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  14. abby99

    abby99 Admin / Chip Magpie
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    For me, the point would be the sheer joy of playing poker! :)

    ymmv
     
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  15. justsomedude

    justsomedude Well-Known Member

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    Touche!! :)
     
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  16. echoseven

    echoseven New Member

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    Thanks for all the input! Now I'm leaning towards tournaments. :wink:

    I may end up just trying both ways and seeing which one sticks.
     
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  17. JeromyinWV

    JeromyinWV ChipTalk.net Supporter
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  18. SixSpeedFury

    SixSpeedFury Well-Known Member

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    Wwhatever amount of money your group of friends are comfortable playing with is what will dictate which way you'll lean towards to. For tournament games, the max amount of money that you'll lose will just be the $20 (unless it's a re-buy game) whereas in a cash game, if you lose the $20 and want to keep playing, you have to buy in again, and so on and so on. Something to chew on.
     
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  19. TexRex

    TexRex Well-Known Member

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    This is a follow up to my earlier post based on comments since.

    Most people think the people they play with are honest. I specifically cited a case where chip migration happened accidentally. I didn't mention that the host wrote it off as "it just happens sometimes." Apparently the fact that it's rare makes it OK. Well, not in my view. It happens because few want to admit cash and tournaments are just different. The chips are used differently. Even if using the same set on different nights, problems can occur.

    It does help if you count the chips carefully at the end of the night. If all are accounted for, great. But if you are a chip or more short, what do you do? Did one roll under the couch or behind the china cabinet? Did it wind up in someone's pocket, and if so was that accidental? Did you or someone else trying to put them up put it in the wrong place? I've had all of these happen at least once.

    I've had chips disappear that have never reappeared. I had a player email the the day after and tell me he accidentally took a chip. I've had a player bring a chip back the next month saying he accidentally took it. I was grateful to get it back, but I spent a month concerned, at least a little, that it would mysteriously show up in a future game.

    I've also seen players cheat, and they are usually people you would never suspect. That's why I detest a chip set used for both cash and tournaments, and I don't like non-denominated chips. I don't like chips that are easy for someone to go buy more of and sneak into your game. I get that customizing chips is expensive. It's taken me a while (a LONG while) to accumulate 3 custom sets -- one cash and two tournament sets. Looking back, I should have just spent extra money in the beginning to get a custom set, and then another. That way I wouldn't have wound up with 7 or 8 sets that have been sold for next to nothing or given away. It ultimately didn't save me any money to get a set to "tide me over" until I felt I could afford more. If I were really honest, it's not that I couldn't have afforded better, it's that I chose not to spend the money at the time on chips.

    Here are some thoughts if you are considering starting a game and you have no chips.
    1. Go in with a friend and get 2 sets -- cash and tournament. Agree to swap out so you can both use both sets for your game. As long as you are in the same game, there shouldn't be a conflict. Just make sure you carefully think through the sets before buying. Set a budget and make the sets efficient. Get sets that you can expand on later. You might like everyone getting a mound of chips, but if cost is an issue, get more high denom chips. Yes, you will make change more often. You can't build chip castles. But as nice as those are, you can't afford something else yet.
    2. Get a player who has equipment involved and ask for their help. I've helped get a few games going by coming and providing equipment until they could get their own stuff.
    3. Don't spend money on the cheapest most readily available chip sets. You might be surprised at how often hosts find more chips at the end of games than they started with.

    ***
    Choice of tournaments or cash: I'll say again poll players. SixSpeed makes a great point. A much bigger than expected loss by a player could end your game if his wife says no more. I think it helps a lot if players know what their maximum loss could be.
     
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