Oil and gas MLPs offer investors enormous cash distributions. Some of the smaller MLPs like Legacy Reserves (NASDAQ:LGCY), QR Energy (NYSE: QRE), Atlas Resource Partners (NYSE: ARP), Eagle Rock Energy Partners (NASDAQ: EROC), and Memorial Production Partners (NASDAQ: MEMP) offer yields of more than 10%. The problem is that not all of these enormous yields are equal, as each company is pursing a slightly different strategy.

Atlas Resource Partners, for example, is focused on buying up cheap natural-gas reserves in hopes of earning investors solid cash flow now, and outsized future income as the value of those reserves increases. Meanwhile, both Legacy Reserves and QR Energy are focused on higher-margin oil production. Finally, we have Eagle Rock Energy Partners and Memorial Production Partners, which have a more balanced production profile. 

These, however, are just some of the differences between these high-yielding oil and gas companies. To take an even deeper look, I've created the slide show below to help investors decide which of these enormous distributions belong in their portfolios.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.