Poker tournaments are largely responsible for poker’s sudden boom in the early 2000s. Images of everyday guys and girls winnings millions of dollars have shown the rest of the world just how much money there is to be made in poker. Online poker tournaments have become especially popular as well, thanks to the spread of internet access around the world and the widespread popularity of real money online poker sites.
The greatest advantage of betting on online poker tournaments is that they have a fixed buyin cost. So with a minimal investment, real money poker players have the ability to win hundreds or thousands of dollars (or more). This is different than traditional forms of betting, in which you can keep betting as long as you keep pulling cash out of your pocket.
How Online Poker Tournaments Work
In its most basic form, a poker tournament is a contest in which everyone signs up, pays a fee and receives an equal number of chips. The goal is to amass as many chips as possible and to be the last player standing at the end of the tournament. At the completion of the tournament, cash prizes are given to the players who lasted the longest.
In order to keep things moving, poker tournaments use a blind structure that increases at set intervals. An average tournament at online poker sites might start out with blinds of 10/20, but then those will slowly increase to 20/40, 25/50 and so on. There is always pressure to keep betting and doing everything possible to amass more chips.
Players who run out of chips during a poker tournament are eliminated from the rest of the tournament. Some poker betting tournaments allow rebuys, but most tournaments are a one-shot-only deal. If you run out of chips, you’re done.
Betting In Poker Tournaments Online
The vast majority of poker tournaments at poker websites are held in the no-limit betting format. This means that you can bet as much money as you want at any point during any hand in the game. The only poker tournament betting rules are that the minimum bet has to at least be as big as the big blind, and the minimum raise has to at least equal the previous bet or raise.
The second most common betting format for online poker tournaments is the pot-limit format. In this format, all bets and raises are capped at the current size of the pot. So if the pot is 100 chips, the biggest bet you can make is 100 chips. If you did indeed make that bet, the next person over could make a raise for an additional 200 chips. This betting format is occasionally used in Texas Holdem tournaments, but it’s most common for Omaha tournaments at internet poker websites.
Types Of Tournaments At Online Poker Sites
There is an almost endless number of poker tournament betting rule variations that can be introduced to change the way any single poker tournament is played at real money poker sites. Over the years, a few types of tournaments have emerged as the most common at top tournament poker websites. The following types of poker tournaments are the ones you will be most likely to see at nearly all online betting sites with poker games.
Freezeout Poker Tournaments
This is the type of poker tournament you think of first when you hear the phrase “poker tournament.” In a freezeout, every player starts out with an equal number of chips and the tournament plays down until there is only one player left standing. If you get knocked out of a freezeout, you can not buy back in.
The prize structure for freezeout tournaments is based on the buyin and the number of players. The first place player typically takes 25-50% of the prize pool, and then the other high finishers receive smaller payouts.
Rebuy Poker Tournaments
A rebuy poker tournament is played like any other poker tournament except players have the option to buy back in again if they get knocked out. If you lose all your chips, you can pay the buy-in fee again and receive a default starting stack. Some tournaments have unlimited rebuys while others place a limit on rebuys.
The usefulness of rebuying in a tournament game while playing online poker decreases as the tournament wears on. At some point, the blinds are so large and the average stack size is so big that it’s not even worth buying back in again. Some rebuy tournaments also let you purchase a single add-on, which gives you a bigger starting stack.
Sit-N-Go Poker Tournaments
A sit-n-go tournament (SNG) is a tournament that does not have a scheduled start time. It just begins after a certain number of people have joined the table and paid the buyin fee. Most SNGs are single table tournaments that consist of 8-10 players. Some SNGs can have more players, though. Some online poker sites even have SNGs that can handle as many as 180 players.
Satellite Online Poker Tournaments
The only difference between satellite poker tournaments and other tournaments is what you win. Satellite tournaments give away free seats to other tournaments instead of cash prizes. For example, many people opt to try to win free seats to the WSOP Main Event rather than come up with the $10,000 entry fee.
Online satellite tournaments can also be used to win free seats to other online tournaments with larger buyins. These tournaments are popular among small stakes players who have limited bankrolls. If you don’t have the bankroll to justify spending $150 on tonight’s big tournament, there’s probably a satellite running somewhere with a $1 to $10 buyin fee.
More About Real Money Online Poker Tournaments
Poker tournaments on TV almost always show live players in casinos, but online poker tournaments at top poker websites are much more popular. The ease of signing up and the worldwide nature of the internet open the game to so many more people. Plus, online poker is a lot more convenient and better lends itself to the average hobbyist.
One of the best things about playing in online poker tournaments at online poker websites is that the buyins range from the very tiny to the very large. Poker fans can get started betting on poker games for money in freeroll tournaments that don’t cost anything, and slowly work their way up the ranks from there. Some of the largest online poker sites even feature poker tournament prize pools with a million dollars or more.
Another major advantage to playing tournaments at poker sites online is that there are many tournament types to choose from. At a live casino, you’re pretty much stuck with what they happen to be offering the night you show up. Online poker sites, however, have dozens of new tournaments starting up all the time. If you don’t like what you’re seeing at your poker site, just wait a few minutes and check again.
When you’re ready to test your skills at the tables, be sure to check out our top-ranked online poker sites. We have played at dozens of online poker rooms and know which ones are the best for tournament players. At the best tournament poker sites, you’ll find a lot of selection, big prize pools and generous deposit bonuses.