Yesterday one of my poker buddies, who primarily plays cash games online for a living, asked me this question (which I hear quite frequently).
"Who do you think are the better poker players: cash-game professionals or tourney professionals?"
I thought about this for a few seconds. Obviously the kid wanted to hear that cash-game players are better, which I do think that they are ... but only in cash games.
The thing is that cash game grinders are just generally better at cash games, and tourney grinders are just generally better at tourneys. It's that simple.
The real test of how "good" a poker player is must be determined by how well they can do in both settings.
The Best Poker Players Do It All
The "best" poker players in the world should be able to dominate in all aspects of poker. They should be able to crush in live cash games, live tournaments, online cash, and online tournaments.
Phil Ivey is the absolute perfect example of someone who is able to do this. Yes, I understand he doesn't play online tournaments. Obviously, he doesn't have to, but I think that if he wanted to, he could do very well at them.
Phil Ivey, in my opinion, has to be considered the best player to ever live. People can make their case for Stu Ungar or for Chip Reese. I cannot comment on how either of those guys played because I never saw it myself.
But I do know that the players that they played against were far less advanced than the players that the average player has to play against nowadays.
Phil Ivey has been dominating the highest-stakes cash games, online and live, for the past 10 years, probably more like four years when it comes to online.
Just Look at Ivey
At the beginning of the WSOP, me and a few of my friends had heard that Ivey was taking action on himself to win a bracelet this year. We were interested and were planning on laying some odds.
Some things ended up preventing it, couldn't get in contact with him in time etc., and we ended up not making the bet. Thank God! He just ships two bracelets and makes the Main Event final table.
I don't usually give out this kind of respect to just any poker player, but Ivey, seriously bro, you deserve it man. What you have done this series is an inspiration to me, and should be to all professional poker players.
Whenever someone feels like they have reached the top of the poker world and that nothing else can be accomplished, just look at Ivey.
Congrats on making the final table, it's great for poker and I really look forward to watching it in November. I now have a reason to be excited about the WSOP main event final table. Good luck.