I started out with on-line play playing mostly tournaments of all sorts on a different site quite some time back, and I’ve always loved the suspense and drama of a tournament, and the struggle to survive till you are the last one standing. I probably would have never worked on my heads up or short handed game if I hadn’t wanted to last a little longer, after the first few times I made the final table.
Unfortunately, I don’t usually have large enough blocks of time to be able to reserve for a tournament, and there is nothing worse than making the final table, and then being told it’s time to leave for the grocery shopping…
So cash games are great in that I can play for just 5 or 10 minutes if I want, or if I get frustrated after a couple of bad beats, I can just do something else for a while if I find I’m not enjoying myself anymore. I also like that winnings are more consistent in cash games… if you are playing tournaments with a few hundred people, it always takes a bit of luck to really cash big. I also like the ability to buy in deeper stacked at replay, so it is not rare to be playing 500 or even 1,000 big blinds deep, something you pretty much never get to do in tournaments.
That gets to another charm of cash games: there is more strategic depth and nuance in deeper stacked play. Tournaments often start out moderately deep stacked, but inevitably become dominated by shallow stack play. Of course there is still skill involved in short stacked play, and frankly that’s what creates a lot of the excitement and tension: you’re often close to falling over the edge, with no way back when your last chip is gone. But still, increasingly, over the years I’ve gradually come to prefer cash games in general, though I still think the thrill of trying to hang on in a tournament is something that cash games cannot offer.