Poker Tournaments Overview

A brief overview of poker tournaments


Poker tournaments are well-organized competitions, enabling players to match their wits against those of their opponents with the aim of grabbing all the available chips.

Over the years, instead of traditional land based tournaments, more players have been drawn towards the online poker tournaments. These tournaments have allowed even beginners an opportunity to compete with professionals, and there have been instances where the beginners have had the upper hand. Every day, there are new players that decide to try their hand at these online poker tournaments. The important thing to know when you start playing poker, especially in tournaments, is to learn the rules and understand the kind of poker and type of tournament you will be participating in. This article aims to give the readers a brief overview of poker tournaments, both online and land-based.

A poker tournament is essentially as a heavily structured competition in which players compete against each other to choose one eventual winner. This is unlike in a regular casino game where the hands are all unrelated and players have the option of quitting whenever they choose to. In a tournament, the players are not allowed to simply quit and walk away with their winnings, but instead they are forced to play along until either they are eliminated or one player wins all the chips.

Most tournaments feature a buy-in, which is a fixed amount of money that each player has to pay to enter the tournament, and using this money, he/she is allotted a certain number of poker chips. To ensure fairness to all players in the tournament, typically everyone at the table starts with the same number of chips. Tournament chips have no actual cash value, and their value is only notional, which is why it is not possible to cash in one’s chips for money. The amount of tournament chips issued is usually a multiple of the buy-in amount, and the tournament organizers usually set aside a certain amount of the buy-in money towards the cost of organizing the tournament. There are many Poker tournaments that allow players the option to re-buy or buy-back which means that the player can purchase more chips, subject to certain conditions. There is also the option to add-on, which is usually open to all players, regardless of the number of chips they already possess. Elimination takes place at poker tournaments whenever a player runs our of tournament chips.

There are many tournaments that are open to the public, and anyone who can afford the buy-in can join. There are other tournaments however, that are strictly invitation only. Tournaments like the World Series of Poker are open to public, and people from around the world who can afford the buy-in. Different tournaments also have different ways of determining prize money. There are some tournaments that have fixed prize money, which means that each position in the rankings corresponds to a specific amount of prize money. Other tournaments have proportional payouts which are determined on a percentage based scale. These percentages depend on the participation at the event, so the more number of people that participate, the larger the prize money. In these kinds of tournaments, though a larger number of people win prize money, it is the top three players that go away with the most money.

Additionally, poker tournaments can be classified as either multi-table or single table tournaments. In the multi-table format, many players take part in a number of different tables. Multi table tournaments typically have a lower buy-in. The single table tournament or STT is a tournament where the number of places at each table is fixed and play begins only when the required number of players is present at the table.

There are different types of tournaments, and it is very important to identify the right tournament for you before you begin playing. This will ensure maximum success, and a larger chance of winning big money. Online tournaments are broadly classified into four types – Elimination Tournaments, Shootout Tournaments, Re-buy tournaments and Satellite tournaments.


  • Elimination Tournaments: This tournament will continue until one participant is in possession of all the tournament chips, and the rest of the players are eliminated.
  • Shootout Tournaments: The Shootout tournament is simply another variation of the elimination tournament where players are arranged in groups and play continues until there is only one player present at each group. The final round then takes place with all the winners from the various groups.
  • Rebuy Tournaments: In an online re-buy tournament, players start the game with the same number of chips, but they then have the option of buying additional chips in order to continue their game. Early elimination is virtually non-existent in a rebuy tournament. At the end of the game, there is typically a much larger pot in a re-buy game than in an elimination game.
  • Satellite Tournaments: This is the final type of online poker tournament which is a kind of preliminary round for larger poker competitions. In a satellite Tournament, a number of players play against each other and the winner of each round advances to the next, larger poker tournament. Many times, the prize money of the satellite tournament is in the form of entry fee to the next level.


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