Cash Games vs. Sit N Gos vs. Multi Table Tournaments

Now that you know about play money vs. real money poker, it is time to learn the different variations of poker you can play on the Internet. This article is going to discuss the differences between cash games (ring games), sit and gos (single table tournaments), and multi table tournaments.

Cash Games (Ring Games)

The first variation we will discuss is cash games, also known as ring games. Cash games are poker games where players buy-in for real money, wager that money, and then cash out whenever they wish. To play at a cash table, the players have to take turns paying the "blinds" or "antes", which are the "price" of sitting at a cash game.

When you are sitting at a cash table you are actually wagering real money, so when you throw a black $100 chip in the middle, you are actually betting $100 worth of real money. Most cash games allow players to buy-in for as little as 10x the big blind, or as much as 100x the big blind (or 200x the big blind at a deep stack table).

So, if you were playing a $1/$2 NL Hold'em game, you could buy-in for as little as $20 or as much as $400 (if it was a Deep Stack table, only offered at Full Tilt Poker).

Players can sit at cash tables for as long as they like, and can leave whenever they wish. The goal at a cash table is to steadily increase your stack so you can leave the table with more money than you sat with. Also, if you happen to lost all your money at the table, you can reload with more chips whenever you please.

Internet poker rooms that host cash games make money by charging a small fee on each pot, known as "the rake". The rake caps out at 5%, and usually is a lower percentage unless the pot is a really big one.

To review, at cash tables you:

  • Buy-in with real money, and actually wager real money.
  • Sit with any amount of money that you wish, as long as it is between 10x and 100x the big blind at the cash table.
  • Attempt to build your stack steadily, as opposed to attempting to knock all the other players out.
  • Can reload if you go bust.
  • Can cash your chips out for cash value, whenever you want.
  • Pay "rake" in consideration for the casino hosting the cash game.

Sit N Gos (Single Table Tournaments)

The next variation we will discuss is single table tournaments, also known as "sit and gos". Sit and gos are much different than cash games for a few reasons.

First of all, each player in the sit and go pays a fixed "buy-in" that gets them an equal amount of tournament chips, which have no cash value. There are usually nine or ten players in a sit and go, because the tournament is limited to one table.

Once each player has their tournament chips, the players all sit at the same table and play poker. Whenever a player loses all of their tournament chips, they are eliminated, and the sit and go runs until one player has every single chip.

At that point, the top three finishers all receive a cash prize for their efforts. First place usually receives 50% of the prize pool, second place usually receives 30% of the prize pool, and third place usually receives 20% of the prize pool.

To ensure that the sit and go ends in a timely fashion, the dealer increases the blinds every ten or so minutes to force action. If the blinds were never increased, the sit and go would be almost identical to a cash game, and could run endlessly.

Poker rooms make money on sit and gos by charging a small tournament fee in addition to your buy-in. This fee is usually displayed as a +fee on the end of the buy-in. For example, if you play in a $5+$0.50 sit and go, $5 goes into the prize pool while $0.50 goes to the poker room in consideration for hosting the game.

In summary, sit and gos:

  • Charge each player a buy-in, plus a tournament fee to ensure that the poker room makes a profit.
  • Provide each player with an equal amount of tournament chips.
  • Sit all nine or ten players at the same table, and have them play poker until one player has all the chips.
  • Raise blinds in ten minute increments, to ensure that the sit and go ends in a timely fashion.
  • Pay out cash prizes to the top three finishers.

Multi Table Tournaments

Multi table tournaments are extremely similar to sit and gos, with a few minor changes. In multi table tournaments (MTTs for short), players pay a fixed buy-in and receive an equal amount of tournament chips, which have no cash value.

Unlike in sit and gos, multi table tournaments accept an unlimited amount of entrants. All of the entrants are then seated at tournament poker tables, and play until one player has all of the chips. Just like in sit and gos, the blinds are raised every ten minutes or so to ensure action and tournament progress.

Since there are multiple tables, players have to be re-arranged throughout the tournament as more and more players are eliminated. Once the multi table tournament reaches the final table, it basically becomes a single table sit and go.

Another way multi table tournaments differ from sit and gos is the payouts. In sit and gos, the top three finishers usually receive a cash prize. However, in multi table tournaments, the top 10%-15% of the field generally receives a cash prize. The winner usually takes 15%-20% of the prize pool, and payouts decrease as you go down the top finishers' list.

When you see the World Series of Poker on ESPN, you're almost always watching a multi table tournament. By the way, has launched their own online poker room - check out my buddy's WSOP bonus guide to learn more about the site.

To recap, multi table tournaments:

  • Are exactly the same as sit and gos, except there are more than ten entrants.
  • Remove tables as players are eliminated, to ensure that tournament tables are always as full as possible.
  • Reward the top 10%-15% of finishers with a cash prize.

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