PokerStars Home Games are incredibly popular, a go-to choice for players wanting to get together regularly with their poker buddies online.
As hundreds of thousands of players have discovered, setting up a your own Poker Club in PokerStars Home Games is easy to do. So is inviting others and setting up either tournaments or cash games.
Which is better for your home game, though — creating a multi-table tournament (“MTT”) or a cash game?
It’s an issue those setting up more traditional, in-person home poker games always have to settle as well.
Both MTTs and cash games can work well when setting up a home game. The best choice is usually the one most players in the game say they prefer. But when declaring such preferences, players should keep in mind factors that make their home game especially fun for everyone.
The best, most entertaining and longest lasting home games usually are set up in a way that ensures players not only enjoy themselves, but keeping wanting to come back. Set up your home game poorly, and before long fewer and fewer players will come, causing the game eventually to fade and dissolve.
Here are a few factors worth keeping in mind when deciding whether or not to create a tournament or a cash game when setting up your PokerStars Home Game.
Reasons to play a multi-table tournament (MTT) in your PokerStars Home Game
If you haven’t set up an MTT in PokerStars Home Games before, it’s incredibly easy to do. Not only that, you can modify your tournament in many ways to suit players’ preferences.
Here’s a look at all the options you have when setting up an MTT:
Notice you can name the tournament and add a note that will appear in the lobby. You can choose the game type (hold’em, Omaha, stud and draw games) and whether you want to play no-limit, pot-limit, or fixed-limit. You can also make the game nine-handed, six-handed, or heads-up.
You can play for play money or real money and adjust the buy-in. You can make the tournament a freezeout, rebuy, or re-entry, and can even make the tournaments progressive knockouts, if you like.
You can also adjust the starting stacks, length of levels, payouts, and breaks. Do this a few times and you’ll feel like a regular tournament director.
It’s a good idea, actually, after playing your first tournament or two to see what players like and dislike, and tweak the settings accordingly.
Now, here are three reasons why playing an MTT might be the best choice for your home game:
1. There are new or inexperienced players in the group
Beginners are likely going to enjoy a tournament more than a cash game, in part because they won’t have the pressure of “winning” or “losing” actual money every single hand they play. (Of course, tournament chips have cash value, but losing chips in a tournament isn’t quite like losing money in a cash game.)
Since everyone pays that same entry fee at the start, there’s generally going to be less pressure. Everyone starts with the same stacks, too, which makes the game more “equal” from the beginning, at least (which isn’t always true in a cash game). A fun home game tournament can be a great way to learn poker as well.
2. Players are more interested in entertainment than profit
Tournaments — especially MTTs played for low stakes or play money — can be great fun for players who are more interested in having a good time than in winning money off their friends. That’s not to say such players don’t want to finish deep and earn big pieces of the prize pool. But if your game includes a lot of casual or recreational players, a tournament might be the best option.
You can certainly have some very competitive home games that focus on MTTs, too. Just know that tournaments often work better with a less “cutthroat” crowd.
3. No one wants to get “hurt” (or “hurt” others) by winning or losing too much
This point is related to the previous one. Cash games typically produce at least one or two big winners and potentially some big losers. Meanwhile in a tournament some players cash and everyone else loses the same amount. In a cash game, there might be a big pot in which one player wins a ton off another. In a tournament, you can have the same big hand, but it feels a little less like one player directly taking money off the other.
All things considered, MTTs provide a “friendlier” format than cash games (although again, it depends on the people playing).
Reasons to play a cash game in your PokerStars Home Game
When setting up a cash game in PokerStars Home Games, you also have a ton of options. Take a look:
After selecting “Create a Table,” you see you can again name the table, choose the variant, make it full ring or short-handed, play for play money or real currency, and choose the stakes.
Why play cash? Three reasons come to mind:
1. Players prefer not having set start or stop times
Some players have families or other obligations that make it nicer to have a set start time for their poker game, and a likely stopping time, too. You can work on the structure for your MTTs to ensure they always take, say, two hours to complete. For some players, that’s preferable.
Meanwhile others don’t care how long the game lasts — the longer, the better. Cash games also don’t need everyone to show up at the start. People can come and go as well, whereas in tournament you don’t want to step away from the computer for too long or risk losing your stack to blinds and antes.
2. Players are more experienced (and perhaps more competitive)
As discussed above, tournaments tend to work better with new players. Meanwhile experienced players may find cash games more appealing. Cash games also keep everyone in the mix and competing at all times, whereas players get knocked out in tournaments and by the end of the night most of the group have become spectators watching the last couple battle it out.
Experienced players might enjoy changing the game and/or stakes every now and then as well, which is obviously only something you can do in a cash game.
3. The money matters (more)
Again, this is all relative. As noted above, you can certainly host a home game tournament with a group of skilled players all of whom have a keen interest in earning a profit from the game. However if the players are on the whole are more focused on remuneration than recreation, a cash game might be the better choice.
Speaking of money mattering, I should end on a caveat here. When it comes to setting the stakes for your home game, work to find that “sweet spot” where everyone is comfortable. When the money matters to players, that typically means they like to play for stakes that are significant enough to make winning pleasurable, but not so high that they make losing too painful.
It is a home game, after all. You want to keep your home game going, which means you have to find a way to make the game remain appealing to everyone who plays it.
That’s another great positive with PokerStars Home Games — you can experiment all you like, and find just the right MTT or cash game that best suits you and your buddies.