Tournament Poker or Ringside


Tournament poker vs. ringside poker has only one thing in common.  Both are poker games and the high hand wins.  The similarity stops there.  Most Holdem tournaments are no limit, where as ringside games are usually limit games.  If you make a mistake in a tournament and misjudge a hand, you could be quickly eliminated from the contest.  Once you have lost all of your starting chips in a tournament, you cannot get more unless it is a re-buy tournament.  In a ringside game you can re-buy whenever you feel like it.


The steady onslaught of ever increasing blinds makes players play hands they would pass in a ringside game.  Forced playing of hands due to the high blinds takes away from some of the patient player’s skill.  It lowers the skill level and makes luck even more of a factor.  In ringside games the blinds stay the same throughout the game.  Players may play lousy cards, but only when they want to take the risk.  The blinds do not enter into their decision on playing a hand or not.


Tournament poker does not let the player wait for high value hands and throw away all others.  In ringside games the player can wait for really good drawing hands.  This is one of the factors that give ringside players, who switch to tournament play, trouble.  They are used to waiting for good cards. 


Good tournament players are extremely aggressive in their play and their betting.  This works, as players are not willing to get knocked out of the tournament playing a bad hand even if they feel the better is on a bluff.  This survival mode of playing helps the aggressive better.


In order to make any money in tournaments, you must survive until you get in the money slots and even better to the final table.  The huge popularity of Holdem poker has made this more difficult as the number of starting players gets larger and larger in every tournament.  The World Series of Poker will have about 8000 starting players in 2006.  Ringside games are easier to make money in, but they do not have the potential payoff that tournaments offer.  It is this huge payoff vs. the entry fee that also makes a tournament draw the players.


In ringside games, you would rarely throw away a playable hand.  It is done in tournaments, when a position up in the money slots can be worth substantial money.  Often you will see a player set out a playable hand to make sure he steps up in the money.  He is hoping that one of the players will be knocked out in the hand being played.  This would not happen in a ring game.


You can quit a ringside game any time.  You cannot do that in a tournament. If you quit playing, the dealer will still collect blinds and antes from your chips even though you are not playing.  Players have shown up an hour late to tournaments and their chips were taken even though they were not at the table.


If a player inadvertently swears in a tournament, they can be penalized by being not allowed to play for ten or twenty minutes.  This never is done in a ringside game.  Television is probably the reason for this rule in televised games.


A good cash player, a ringside player, may not do well at all in a tournament.   The opposite can be the case also.  The professionals quickly realize where they can make money, and they will rarely change from one venue to another. 


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