When starting off to play Texas holdem many players ask what should they play SNGs or Cash Games, this article aims to reveal the differences between both. Cash Games Players buy in for cash amount usually 100x the big blind, so in a game where the big blind is 25 cents you would buy in for $ 25 since it is given the name NL25. In cash games the ability to reload chips allows you to make certain plays that yield a + $ Expected Value that you could not profitably do in a SNG (such as set mining). Expected Value ($ EV for short) is the concept that if you do a certain action that has a certain probability over the long run we will expect to see a set return.
For example: In a game of NL1000 we hold AA we raise $ 40 our opponent who holds QQ pushes $ 1000 all in. To find out whether or not it is profitable to call we have to do an $ EV calculation which is:
$ EV = (result of win) - (result of loss)
So we know from using PokerStove that AA vs QQ AA is an 81.5% favorite, so 81.5% of the time we will win $ 1040 (the amount already in the pot) and the remaining 18.5% we will lose $ 960 (the amount left in our stack) so we enter that into our equation and get
$ EV = (0.815 × 1040) - (0.185 × 960) $ EV = 847-177 $ EV = $ 640
So theoretically every time you make this play you EXPECT to gain $ 640 in the long run, since what your expecting to gain is a + amount, this is known as a + $ EV play. This concept is crucial to understand since a player who makes many + $ EV moves will be profitable over the long run and one who does - $ EV moves is a loser in the long run. Cash games place a greater emphasis on expected value than SNGs where although EV is important the main aim of the game is survival since you can still come into 3rd place with 1 chip and still earn money.
A tournament which starts when the required amount of players sign up. At Texas Hold em Card we think these are great for new players since they have a heavy focus on pre flop play which enables you to learn the various starting hand strengths, the importance of position etc. Since the amount of chips you are given is finite the main aim of the game is survival. SNGs differ from cash games in that the blinds go up in regular intervals.The blinds constantly going up means that the game eventually reaches a stage where the stack to blind ratio becomes very low and so the normal raising pre flop method of play is no longer a profitable option and is replaced by a more optimal strategy of push and fold, which is where if your hand is playable, you push all in, if it is not playable you fold.
One of the main considerations of SNGs that a winning player must know at this stage is a mathematical concept known as ICM. ICM stands for independent chip model and describes a model for giving monetary values to chip stacks during tournaments, that is, to calculate the $ EV from the EV. The money value of your own stack ($ EV) is dependent on the stack ratios of the other players. Learning ICM can be done using a ICM calculator such as SitNGoWizard or SNG endgame tools. Using A ICM calculator it can tell you whether it is + EV or -EV to push or fold in a certain spot. The knowledge of ICM really becomes important when there is 4 remaining players left (the Bubble) at this stage making the wrong move can end up becoming a disastrous mistake since another player can bust out automatically guaranteeing you money.
All in all when playing Texas Hold em Card , we think which form to play depends on which you are better at, however with SNGs there are many wining players playing at the high stakes playing the same optimal push and fold strategy and playing with many winning players reduces your expected value, so there is not as much money to be won at the high stakes compared to what can be won in the high stakes cash games where there is no one optimal form of play.