Playing poker as a cash game has always been more popular than playing tournament poker, at least until poker moved online. It made more sense for card rooms to utilize their space for cash games, and it made more sense for the players as well, but all that has now changed.
A poker room can earn more revenue hosting cash games where there is a rake after every hand, as opposed to tournaments which typically have an upfront fee only. Tournaments were held primarily for the players benefit because they took up space, required lots of dealers, and dragged on for a long time.
Many players also preferred cash games because their tournament could be over in an instant and then the entire session would be over as well. A card room holds one tournament at a time, and when you’re out you’re out of a poker game altogether unless you play in cash games.
All of this changes completely with online poker. Online poker rooms can and do host hundreds of tournaments simultaneously and on any given day there are thousands of poker tournaments to choose from on the Internet at every stakes level you can imagine.
Online poker tournaments frequently are held with guaranteed prize money regardless of the number of entrants. This can mean exceptional value for money if you are a good player. You essentially pay no commission to play and there may even be an overlay in your favor! An online poker tournament may offer $10,000 in guaranteed money and charge entrants $100 + $10 fee for a seat. But if only 80 players compete they still give away the $10k for a $2,000 overlay in your favor. Even if you factor in the entry fees the overlay in this example is still $1,200.
Online poker tournaments are also popular as satellite events or qualifiers to the world’s biggest poker tournaments like the World Poker Tour events and the World Series Of Poker main event. Thousands of seats are given away in this manner to online qualifiers.
The best aspect of playing tournament poker online is that if you suffer a bad beat in one another one is starting up very soon, probably at the same poker room. There are professional Sit & Go players who do nothing except play in poker tournaments online.
You can of course still play cash games at every level at poker rooms on the Net but you should experience the rush of tournament poker, and who knows? You might be the next online qualifier to the big show at the WSOP!