Poker tournaments are growing ever more popular online. Tired of ring games? Tired of losing your shirt in big bad beats, or winning endlessly meager pots? Want a bigger return on your investment? Consider poker tournaments! For a one time buy-in, and usually a moderate registration fee, you can test your poker skills in a whole new way, with a much larger pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Most poker tournaments are "Freeze-out" or "Shoot-out" tournaments where players are eliminated one by one as each player loses all their chips, with ultimately one player remaining to claim the bulk of the overall pot. Occasionally, though rarely, players are allowed to "re-buy", or rejoin the tournament after being eliminated, by paying the buy-in again, or some other disclosed re-buy fee.
Most poker tournaments divide the promised prize pool between at least the top three players with a breakdown much like the following: 50% to 1st place, 30% to 2nd place, and 20% to 3rd place. Some poker tournaments, especially "Freerolls" (see below), offer prizes to the top 30, 50, 100 or more players.
Oftentimes poker tournaments are promoted with guaranteed prize pools (such as $10,000 guaranteed), promising players a specific amount in the prize pool regardless of how many players enter. Oftentimes, though not always, entrants' buy-ins will be added to the guaranteed prize pool amount, making the guarantee merely a promised minimum.
It is important to know what type of poker tournament you are considering before buying in. For example, if you're new to poker tournaments, you may want to avoid "Turbo" Tournaments where players have a strict time limit within which to make their decisions. Conversely, poker novices can benefit greatly from "Freerolls", poker tournaments that allow players to enter for no cost, yet still win real money.
A typical poker tournament buy-in and entry fee will be listed as "$X + Y" (such as $5 + 1 or $10 + 2 or $100 + 9). The first number is the buy-in. The accumulated buy-ins from all the entrants in a poker tournament is usually added to the overall prize pool. The second number is also a dollar amount, but this is the entry fee, or a commission paid to the casino to host the poker tournament. This second number is not added to the prize pool.
Poker tournaments can be Limit or No Limit games (or even Pot Limit) so, again, read carefully before entering. Likewise, poker tournaments can be in Texas Holdem, Omaha, 7-Card Stud, or any other card game. Most scheduled poker tournaments, though not all, are multi-table tournaments. It's worth noting how many competitors your online hosts expect you to be playing against and to compare those odds against the cost to enter and the promised rewards. Yes, not all poker tournaments are created equally. You could enter a $1,000 guaranteed prize pool tournament for $111 as easily as you could for $11.
Among the most popular poker tournaments are "Satellite" tournaments, where the prize or prizes is not cash but entry into a larger and more potentially rewarding tournament. Some satellite poker tournaments have, as their top prizes, seats in the World Series of Poker, in World Poker Tour events, and in other popular land-based poker tournaments. Other satellite poker tournaments are for entry in poker tournaments within the same online casino with significantly larger prize pools. Oftentimes, Freerolls will also be satellites.
My favorite type of poker tournament is the "Sit 'n Go" or "Sit & Go" tournament. These tournaments are usually single table poker tournaments, and they are not scheduled ahead of time. A Sit 'n Go tournament begins when the proper number of entrants buy in and sit down at the poker table. If I buy in to a Sit 'n Go and there are no other players, I simply wait for other players to join me, hopefully while I play at another ring table to entertain myself in the meanwhile. When one Sit 'n Go tournament table is filled, the game automatically begins and a new Sit 'n Go tournament table is started at the same limit structure for the next batch of interested gamblers.
What I love the most about poker tournaments is that I pay my money once, it's a finite amount I can safely farewell, allowing me to play more aggressively with my thousands of dollars in chips, because I know they only cost me $6. I also know the game won't go on endlessly as I watch my chips trickle away. There's no middle ground or gray area with poker tournaments, either I win or lose; but when I win, I win big, and when I lose, at least I lose fast.