What is a ‘Ring Game’?
In poker, a ‘ring game’ is a cash game which is not part of tournament play, and which players are free to buy into and cash out of as they choose. However, there are often restrictions on buying back in to prevent players pulling chips from the table and denying other players the chance to win them back. Most casino games are ring games, except where a tournament or elimination contest is in session.
‘Ring Game’ Explained
If a player refers to playing in a ‘ring game’, they mean one of the cash games offered by casinos and card rooms which are not part of any tournament or contest. These are the common poker games found at the low limit tables on the public floor, although sometimes high-stakes poker is played as a ring game. Most ring games are limit poker, and they can include all the different types of poker such as stud and draw games, seven and five card variants and even Pai Gow.
These ring games are different from tournament play because players are not compelled to stay until the end – they can cash out and leave at any point. However, many casinos will limit the times a player can buy back in, preventing the practice of ‘ratholing‘ – removing chips from the game so opponents have no opportunity to win them back.
Ring games are open to the public in most situations, and there is no listed schedule of players. Joining the game simply means buying in unless the table is full. In this case, players will be invited to join another table until a spot in the game they wanted comes up. Sometimes, they will be allowed to transfer their chips to the new table, but often they will need to cash out and buy back in at the next game.