Online Poker Tournaments – Why Online Poker Is The King Of The Cash Tournaments Lineup
Table Of Contents
The Jewel In The Crown? – Why Online Poker Tournaments Will Test Your Skills Like No Other Contests
For the avid poker player, there is surely no greater thrill than battling through to the latter stages of a high prize poker tournament (and if you’re a new player, any real money prize tournament!). Ultimately winning one is likely to be one of your most memorable highlights of your time in the game.
Tournaments are just one of the reasons behind the huge popularity of the game over the last half dozen years, with a wide range on offer from all of the online poker rooms.
Opportunities to taste the excitement generated by tournaments are almost endless, with an incredible range of options available giving choices of where, how, when, and for what prizes to play. You can play pretty much on demand at any hour of night and day
This subject of poker tournaments is a vast one, and similar to poker strategy it warrants a dedicated hub section of our site. You can use this page as the tournament hub, and I’ll be building it into a resource which aims to cover every aspect of tournament play.
Latest Tournament News/New Tournaments
January 2021 – Great news for bad beat losers at GGPoker
We all know that poker can be a tough game, although it offers significant chances of making money through gaming if you can master it. But even when you’re a proficient player there are times when luck goes against you, most likely when it feels like you’re holding the winning hand only for your opponent to unexpectedly beat it. That’s known to poker players as a bad beat.
Normally you’d just have to shrug your shoulders, accept it, learn from the experience, and move on to the next cash game or tournament.
But not any more…as long as you play with GGPoker.
The popular poker room has decided to make up to $1 million a month available to those players suffering the heavy blow of a bad beat, which they can take a share of by entry into a daily $30,000 Flipout tournament to be known as GGCare. So by signing up as a GGPoker player, the next time you get a bad beat you could find yourself winning more in your compensation tournament entry than you would have on the hand you lost!
December 2020 – Pokerstars Big Blowout Series
Pokerstars are one of the biggest names in our field, and tournaments are our recommended way to play. Put them both together and you have the near perfect combination – Pokerstars poker tournaments. As we headed towards the end of 2020 and the first months of 2021, the online poker giant released a schedule of global events known as The Blowout Series.
Running from December 27th to January 19th 2021 were a total of a staggering 268 tournaments delivering a combined $60 million in prize pool guarantees. This figure included multiple qualifier satellites and main events, and offered chances for those of us with varying size bankrolls to buy in to the action.
December 27th saw the first of four Big Blowout main events held on Sundays – $5 million guaranteed tournaments with a $109 buy-in.
Other events – 88 in all – offered three buy-in levels set at low, medium, and high level.
For US players in regulated states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, there were individual events outside of the global series, with Pennsylvania players getting a $200 buy-in tourney with a guarantee of $500K. It started on Sunday 27th December and ran over 2 days.
New Jersey players had the $10k New Jersey Classic which also ran on Sunday, December 27.
Where To Play
There are many poker websites – a number of them heading towards 20 years old – that provide lists of the best poker rooms for tournaments. It’s fairly obvious the list is going to include big names like Pokerstars, Party Poker, and 888Poker, although there are a number of others worth considering.
Instead of reproducing info that can be widely found elsewhere, we’ll point out a few webpages here that already get us a good list.
For a starter try this post here on realmoney.games titled ” why these poker rooms run the best poker tournaments“.
PokerListings is probably the most well known of the older sites and has an exhaustive list that shows current bonuses and promos, while the highly experienced team over at ProfessionalRakeback have a valuable and well considered list which contains most of the poker rooms you should be aware of.
This discussion at Cardshat contains some player views on who’s the best of the rooms running tournaments and why.
Advance details and quick information are at the core of any planning schedule, and with the huge array of tournaments offered by the online poker rooms or as land-based events it’ll pay to be aware of what’s coming up.
You’ll see some of the recently announced notable events in the new tournaments section, but here we’ll take a look at some upcoming event schedules with the aim of getting info on the latest satellite, freeroll, and major events.
As above, there are plenty of resources that already do this so here are a few that are worth bookmarking:
For a schedule of live land-based events this page at Cardplayer is the one to remember. PokerNews also has a similar list.
The major poker rooms obviously have their own schedules:
You’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions around our subject in the table below, but at high level let’s deal with one big question that seems to be asked…and that’s…
Are there any online poker tournaments?
An odd question of course given we have a lengthy page which couldn’t exist if the answer was ‘no’.
So the answer is yes. In fact there are hundreds, maybe thousands. Pretty much every online poker room will run a tournament schedule consisting either of :
- planned regular events (hourly,daily, weekly, monthly)
- special named events (normally a series of freeroll, satellite, or other buy-in individual contests leading up to a grand final event)
If you do have any questions that doesn’t seem to be answered here please feel free to contact me and I’ll arrange for it to be covered.
What are the best online poker tournaments?
What is the biggest poker tournament in the world?
What is the difference between a poker tournament and cash game?
What’s the difference between rebuy and reentry?
What does rebuy mean in poker?
What is a freeze out poker tournament?
What is a deep stack turbo tournament?
What is a deep stack poker tournament?
What is a poker Shootout tournament?
What is a progressive Bounty poker tournament?
What does MTT mean in poker?
Why is PokerStars illegal in the US?
When should I enter a poker tournament?
Where can I watch poker tournaments?
The top level question here is ‘Who can play real money games?’, and the main answer is similar to the one we’ve just seen in the ‘Where’ FAQ section. From a legality perspective it depends on where you live or from what region you are playing from.
As examples – in the US it depends on what State you live in, while for other countries like Australia, the Philippines, and India the regulations can be equally complicated.
Assuming real money gaming is in general legal where you live, then as long as you’re old enough and as long as you have internet access and a device to play on, then clearly you have a great start!
How do online poker tournaments make money?
How long do online poker tournaments last?
How much does it cost to play in a poker tournament?
How do you play online poker tournaments?
How many chips do I need for a poker tournament?
How How many levels are there in poker tournament?
do I find a poker tournament?
How do you win a low stakes poker tournament?
How are poker tournament payouts calculated?
How do you win a Pokerstars tournament?
How do you run deep in a poker tournament?
How long do Pokerstars tournaments last?
How do you play big stack in poker tournament?
How do you play a deep stack tournament?
How do you play chip leader?
How many buy ins for tournaments?
How many big blinds should you start with in a tournament?
How does a rebuy tournament work?
How do you play freeze out?
Is there a game that you can win real money?
Of course there is. There are plenty in fact and these are listed here.
Can you make money playing poker tournaments?
Can you cash out in a poker tournament?
Can you cheat on PokerStars?
Are poker tournaments worth it?
Are cash games or tournaments more profitable?
Are online poker tournaments legal?
Are online poker sites rigged?
Should you add on in a poker tournament?
Should I play cash or tournament poker?
Why Are Poker Tournaments So Popular?
Playing in a poker tournament is a great way to enjoy the game, learn, and potentially win big, often for a small initial outlay. There’s no greater thrill than going heads up having won through to the final stages and ultimately standing victorious.
They are open to any player, regardless of experience or skill level – from Freeroll tournaments particularly useful for complete beginners, through to multiple types of Sit and Go and Multi-table events.
You get the chance to win big prizes for low entrance fees (or even bigger prizes for higher by-ins) – and before the tournament starts you know exactly what prizes are on offer and how much you’re risking.
The range of scheduled tournaments offered by the online poker rooms is immense, catering for thousands of players in thousands of games daily.
It’s worth noting here that Texas Holdem poker tournament strategy is different from standard cash game strategy in some key areas, and to be successful you’ll need to be aware of the differences.
Remember that because of the ease of playing online, you’re likely to encounter a huge number of unskilled players – especially in the early stages of any tournament – and your strategies can be honed to take advantage. There are chances for easy money (if you’ve got a good understanding of tournament strategy, of course).
And you can often get to play for free. Poker bonuses offered by the online rooms give you a great way to increase the number of tournaments to play in – some bonuses will give you many hundreds of dollars which can pay for multiple tournament entries.
With the chance to win some highly valuable prize pools, and play against opponents from all over the world, it’s easy to see why the popularity of tournaments is increasing. Your poker skills and knowledge will face the ultimate test in a race against the blinds and a supreme battle of wits.
6 Key Facts To Know
We move on to cover the different types of tournaments below, but it’s worth reading through these 5 overview facts on poker tournaments to pick up some quick background info first.
* In a poker tournament all players enter the tournament with the same stake amount.
* The Casino collects an entry fee from each player entering the tournament.
* All the players start out with the same amount of chips
* The amount of chips, the stakes played for and the time periods of the game determine whether it is a fast or slow tournament
* As players lose they are eliminated and players re-shuffled as tables are removed
*The tournament ends when one player has all the chips and is declared the winner
How Do I Get Into a Poker Tournament
You normally gain entry to a poker tournament by paying a fee, known as a ‘buy in’, and it begins either at a set time or when the required number of players have joined.
Buy in amounts can range from just a few dollars up to larger amounts where the prizes are often much greater. Of course, the greater the prize, the more likely it is that you’ll be facing some tough competition.
What Are My Chances Of Winning?
Skill and clever strategic play are both important factors in winning through to a poker tournament’s final stages. To have any concrete chance of success you’ll need to have at least studied poker strategy in general and the basics of how to play in competitions.
Of course, a hefty dose of luck will come in useful too, especially in multi table tournaments. In these you may have up to 200 opponents, so winning your share of marginal hands will be critical to success, along with a firm understanding of basic and tournament poker strategy.
Where Can I Find Out What Tournaments Are Available To Play In?
In the table at the top of this page I’ve listed some direct links to the tournament schedules of some popular poker rooms. This puts tournament details right at your fingertips in an easy to read format – presenting a quick view of coming and planned events.
How Do Poker Tournaments Work?
The basic structure of an online tournament is easy to understand. And it’s all made easy for you anyway – once you’ve entered and taken your place at the first table, the poker room software does it all for you.
Each player involved is given an equal number of starting chips, and play continues until only one player remains with all the chips. If you lose all your chips at any point you’re eliminated.
The blinds are raised at regular predetermined intervals, which makes the pots progressively larger and forces you to play more hands to avoid being wiped out. This acts to intensify the action in any game.
You can see from this that psychological strength plays a big part in a poker tournament, as you’ll eventually be forced into making larger and more bets than you really want to.
Introduction To Tournament Stages
You usually have a lot of chips in this stage of the poker tournament and are best advised to wait for good hands before getting deeply involved in any pot. The recommendation here is always to play a patient game. The early stages are all about survival.
You cannot afford to sit back and keep waiting for good hands as the blinds are continually rising. You have to open up your game, so do so aggressively, take risks and start attacking the pot without being reckless. Keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to progress as one of the big stacks into the late stage.
If you have reached this stage with a big stack then you have a huge advantage and you should capitalize. It is now recommended that you play the aggressor and not the caller. Avoid battles with the big stacks, going after the little ones instead to avoid busting out at this stage.
The Final Table
At this stage of the poker tournament, if you have arrived with a big or medium stack then play basic strategy and pick on the small stacks, avoiding the big stacks. The goal here is to be in the final top three spots.
Here’s a basic outline of the most popular tournaments that you’ll encounter.
Freeroll Poker Tournaments
Your first experience of online poker tournaments is likely to be in a Freeroll – a free to enter tournament often offered to new depositors at one of the major online rooms. They offer a valuable way to gain experience.
The poker rooms are constantly looking for new new players, and Freeroll tournaments are just one of the incentives on offer. Others include generous poker bonus offers and promotions such as major poker tournament entries, loyalty programmes, and other prizes.
For poker beginners, playing in Freeroll tournaments is a great way to gain experience. With some freeroll experience behind you, it’s not a big step to move up to cash tournaments with entry fees costing from a few dollars upwards.
Playing in these free to enter tournaments can often be loose, with opponents going all out to win big pots because they have nothing to lose. Because of this, they’re actually not a good way to prepare for playing where your cash is at stake, but are still entertaining and useful as practice games to understand the structure and get a feeling for how tournaments progress.
Sit N Go – Single Table Tournaments
Sit and Go’s are small poker tournaments – sometimes known as single table tournaments (STTs). They’re fast moving and straightforward, and as the name suggests they’re played on single tables of up to ten players. Sit N Gos are often exciting right from the first flop and are completed fairly quickly compared to the larger multitable tournaments.
STTs are a good way to get some tournament play for fairly low stakes or buy-ins. They give any reasonably skilled player a good chance to enjoy a good game and make some money.
Many sit and go tournaments are played at around the $5 or $10 buy in level, with prize pools usually shared between the top 3 finishers. STTs are available at most of the popular online poker rooms, with games beginning as soon as enough players are seated at a table.
Calm and knowledgeable players can enjoy good advantages, as the low buy in levels can sometimes attract opponents who play with a reckless Freeroll style. Hence following good basic tournament strategy can earn good rewards.
Multitable Tournaments – MTTs
The most popular format of all poker tournaments is the MTT, or multitable tournament. This is the type you’ll probably be most familiar with. They can have up to thousands of entrants, and are the highest paying type available.
Multitable poker tournaments are scheduled events, meaning you need to register in advance to play at a specific time and date. You can normally register right up to around a minute before the start. Buy-ins can start at $1 and go up into thousands of dollars, and all players start with the same number of chips.
The tournament takes place on multiple tables at the same time, and as players are eliminated the remaining players are gradually moved around to fill the gaps and keep tables fully occupied. Eventually the field is reduced to enough players for one table only – the final table.
The prizes vary depending on the number of original entrants, with normally the top 20 players receiving cash prizes relevant to their finishing position. The overall tournament winner is the player ending up with the biggest number of chips.
The World Series of Poker is recognized as the biggest of all poker tournaments – a live, week-long no limit Texas Holdem tournament with a massive $10,000 buy in. The competition attracts every top professional, plus celebrity players and online champions.
Every top poker player sees this one as the one to win, but this is not just for the poker pros with the 2004 winner qualifying through an online poker satellite tournament with a $250 buy-in.
Aside from the chance to win cash prizes, you can also play in tournaments where you’ll win through to the finals of major land based or online tournaments with huge prizes. Winning through to one of these in a satellite could be well worthwhile as the actual buy-ins could reach into the many hundreds or thousands of dollars. Sometimes you’ll see satellites which give the winner entry into major championship or well known tour events.
There have been a number of major poker tournaments eventually won by players who qualified online for low buy-ins in satellite tournaments.
Speed or Turbo Tournaments – the fastest and most exciting action in poker….
Speed Poker Tournaments, also known as Turbo Tournaments, offer fast exciting action with double the fun in half the time. Blinds increase every few minutes, offering some of the fastest, most exciting tournament action to be found – if you’re looking for an exciting poker experience but don’t have hours to spare, speed poker tournaments could be the answer.
Many of the major online poker rooms run turbo tournaments.
Team Poker Tournaments
These are a fairly new addition to the online poker world. Create your own team and nominate a team manager who is responsible for hiring and firing players.
The maximum number of players in a poker team is 10, with a minimum of 5. The team builds a fund which is used to pay the tournament entry fees, and can then play either in multi team tournaments, one off games, or in poker leagues.
As with any poker games, your chances of success at tournaments lies in your ability to master the correct strategies to employ in each type you might enter. Different strategy applies to each – whether it be Freerolls or ‘pay to enter’ tournaments, or any of the different tournament types listed above.
For this reason, poker tournament strategy is a vast subject. You can use the poker strategy hub of this poker section of realmoney.games to learn about strategies overall, and further below (after the 23 poker strategy tips to remember) I’ll list some valuable sites which give extra information.
The video below is a good starting point to understanding the strategies you’ll need to use to do well in poker tournaments.
Without further ado, further below there’s the list of 22 poker tournament strategy tips which will give you a starter on your path to tournament domination (we hope!). You can take a look at this video while you’re reading through.
1. In the early stages play tight. Your aim is to avoid elimination. Rely on strong starting hands and extremely tight post flop play. Don’t hurry to build a giant stack. In the early stages of a tournament it doesn’t matter who’s in the lead. Wait for your hand.
2. Reserve looser, aggressive play for the later stages, when most players have been knocked out, the blinds are rising, and it’s the right time for strong winning tactics.
3. Only play A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J and A-K in early position. If you don’t want to face a re-raise on a hand, then don’t raise with it. Be prepared to let all but A-A and K-K go if you face an all in from an opponent. Raise with 10-10, 9-9, 8-8 in mid to late position. Other hands you can consider playing in late position, but only if you can do it cheaply, include two suited face cards, and suited aces down to an eight. With these big hands, play three times the big blind. Stick to this as a standard raise.
4. As a tournament progresses, you will need to become increasingly aggressive in your play, but still be selective. Position is critical, check where you are before raising. The time to change your game is when around half the players have been eliminated. The middle stages are a great time to try out a few blind stealing bluffs.
5. Watch the other players to determine how they play. Are they aggressive, semi-aggressive, middle, tight, or solid.
6. Never try to bluff an idiot. You can’t judge what moves poor players will make. Never bluff in the early stages of a STT. The blinds are not worth taking the risk.
7. Create the impression that you’re a rock. If one player amasses a huge stack early on, it’s possible he’ll eliminate the lesser players gradually. Don’t be one of them.
8. Don’t play when you’re tired.
9. Keep pressure on by re-raising with strong hands. Set your own standard for what your raises will be.
10. Don’t let other players change your style of play. When the blinds are low, there is no need to get caught up in big pots because you think someone is stealing your blind.
11. Think about limping in from early position with Aces and Kings against aggressive opponents.
12. Bet consistent amounts to hide whether you have a big or moderate hand.
13. Watch out for your kicker. Remember high pair hands can be lost with a weak kicker.
14. Be unpredictable. Switch from aggressive to solid and back to mislead your opponents.
15. Play small connectors very carefully. Remember it’s easy to hit over pairs on the flop.
16. Learn the odds. Tournaments are all about survival, don’t make big calls just because your pot odds are good.
17. If the flop brings trips, bet against aggressive players but be careful against rocks or solid players.
18. Re-raise with A-K before the flop and re-raise when the flop shows A-x-x.
19. Be careful with high connectors. If you hit the flop you may be forced into chasing the straight.
20. When on the blinds in an un-raised pot you should raise regularly. You may get a good flop if called, and this will ensure good value if you get a strong hand.
21. Be unpredictable when bluffing. Wait until you’ve had a strong showdown hand before attempting to bluff.
22. When it’s late in the game, and you’re short stacked, you need to avoid hoping the other players will take each other out. They’ll just watch you lose on the blinds. This is when aggressive play is needed. Try to double up with all-in plays with any reasonable hand. It’s surprising how often the others will fold, or you’ll win with medium hands.
23. Don’t enter a tournament where the stake will affect your play. If it’s too high you run the risk of choking when there’s a need for a critical bluff or call, and if too low you’ll maybe take chances that you don’t need to.
Poker Tournament Strategy Resources
SitAndGoPlanet.com offer a valuable poker tournament strategy website, with dozens of useful articles covering all many aspects of tournament play.
PokerListings has a superb easy to follow Poker Tournament Strategy section which holds valuable info from beginner to advanced level tournament play.
The Poker-Strategy.org tournament strategy section holds articles on Multi-table, Single table, Freeroll, and Rebuy tournament strategies.
Tight Poker’s tournament pages contain numerous guides on how to improve your poker tournament strategies, including no limit, limit, and many others.
Who Can Play
As long as you’re of the specified legal age, and living in a country or region where playing in online poker tournaments is legally allowed, then you should be able to play. The best way of being sure is to check the terms and conditions of any poker room you want to sign up with – those that are respectable will make it clear who can and who can’t play.
Other than that, anyone who has a method of depositing can enjoy playing poker tourneys. Of course, if it’s a free event you’re interested in then you don’t even need that as long as you don’t need to deposit to get that free entry.
Are Poker Tournaments Legal?
In general skill games fall outside of many regulatory rulings. That’s to say they’re often legal where other types of gambling games are banned. So since poker tournaments do require good skills in order to do well, you might be thinking they’re going to be legal where you live.
It’s not that cut and dried. The reality is that some will be allowed, and some won’t. There are lots of grey areas.
In the US you should be OK but still need to be cautious. Tournament websites that are owned by US-based companies are subject to US federal laws and the laws of the particular state the website owner is registered in as a business.
Throughout the rest of the world, laws and regulations vary from country to country.
Wherever you are, before playing you should check any poker room’s Terms and Conditions page for specific details and be aware of the regulations of the country that you reside in. Be aware that some sites may accept players from countries that other sites don’t, especially where the regulations are not fully clear.
What Can You Win
Prizes vary wildly. They can range from a few $/£/€s up to many tens of thousands, and it’s not always just the winner that gets the cash. Sometimes there are prizes for runners up and even lower positions.
The prize pool – and how it’s distributed – will always be clearly spelled out in the event rules or conditions. Generally at least the last 2 or 3 remaining players in a tournament win a share with the winner taking the most, and in the bigger tournaments prizes can be given to the final 10 or even more players.
Where To Play
If you enter the term “online poker tournaments” into a search engine, you will find that there are dozens of websites that offer them. So there are plenty of places to play, as you’d expect just from reading through this page.
How Easy Is It To Play?
Playing any form of poker online is fairly easy, most software will prompt you when it’s your turn and basically tell you what to bet. Playing poker well – in cash games or tournaments – is an entirely different story. You’ll have needed plenty of practice and good strategy skills to last to the latter stages of a contest.
Getting set up to play is normally easy. Just pick the website you want to play at and follow the registration process. The vast majority of tournament websites make this process as easy as possible to follow.
Are The Contests Fair?
It’s one of the perennial questions…..”If I’m going to be risking my own money playing tournaments against opponents, how do I know it’s going to be fair?”
To answer that question we need to consider a couple of angles:
1. Has the organiser made it fair? – Game operators normally have this covered, and it’ll be extremely rare that any platform you’re playing on could be directly manipulated by an external party. Plus the operator has no incentive to manipulate results since they’re making money from entry fees as opposed to individual bets.
Where re-buys are involved you could argue that an operator could benefit from somehow ensuring a participant loses, but this would be highly unlikely.
As far as trusting the games operators goes, the sites I’ve listed on this page should not pose any concerns. They’re well respected, long running firms that wouldn’t take any risks of being labelled as untrustworthy.
2. Are participants cheating? – This is a little more difficult to be sure of and depends on the type of contest. Whenever you’re playing online you don’t actually know what your opponent is doing. There are some types of games where they could be using software to give an unfair advantage, but normally the operators have algorithms built into the platform software to prevent or detect use.
Poker is actually likely to be the most common game where this might be happening – some players can use robots to play hands to their optimum potential.
Pros & Cons
It’s fairly easy to label the pros of competitive poker tourneys, and we can do it in half a dozen bullet points:
- Low cost, value for money entertainment
- Easy to learn – Easy to play
- Good for gaming beginners & regulars alike
- Free to enter options
- Valuable cash prizes
- Games using high quality latest technology graphics
- Based on skill, if you’re good you can win
There really are very few negatives. Clearly if you don’t have the necessary skills, you’re going to struggle. Very likely you’ll lose any fees you’ve paid.
Playing in online poker tournaments can offer a simple, often low cost form of entertainment. If you’re a stronger player then it may even be worth entering the bigger prize events with the more hefty by-ins.
It’s definitely fun, though you’ll need to be able to focus and play strategically to have any real chances of getting any further than where luck is intending to take you. You’ll get possibilities to win cash prizes without risking large amounts of money, and the thrill of competition.
With the lockdowns in 2020 more players have turned to playing online, with the result that the number of online events has increased. The choice of where and when to play in tourneys has never been greater. More and more poker rooms are increasing their online contests, and this means there are plenty of easily-found opportunities for anyone with the prerequisite strategy skills.
For the rest of us, online events are probably approached with the intent of getting some intense entertainment, and who knows – maybe with some luck one of us will make it to a final table.