Poker Tournaments

Poker is such a popular game nowadays. People play it for fun or money, with many professionals taking part in a number of tournaments. Poker tournaments are held all around the world.

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Poker tournaments can be played between two players, which is known as a heads-up tournament, but the maximum number of players may reach up to thousands. Depending on the size of the tournament, the prizes can vary, with the largests having a prize reaching to millions.

How Do Poker Tournaments Work?

Poker players usually have to pay for their entry, although some have an invitational structure. The so-called buy-in fee gives them a seat at a poker table, with most commercial venues where the tournament is held charging a small fee as well. The player is then given a number of chips that have no cash value and can only be used on the tables. Once all their chips are lost, players are eliminated from the event. The last player standing is the winner of the poker tournament, winning the largest portion of the prize pool.

The prizes for most tournaments are derived from the buy-ins. However, bigger ones usually have sponsors which provide a major part or the whole prize pool. Spectators are often allowed to watch the action unfold for an entry fee, which may or may not contribute to the prize pool as well.

poker tournaments
Poker tournaments are great

The tournaments that don’t require a buy-in are known as freerolls. They are free to enter and play, but the player only gets one chance. Freebuy events are also free to enter, with players being able to buy themselves back in once they have lost all chips.

When it comes to the prize pool, it can either be fixed or proportional. A fixed prize pool pays a fixed prize for the top spots, while proportional pools are based on percentage-based scale. The percentage is determined by the players entering the tournament – as it grows in size, so does the payout percentage.

Types of Poker Tournaments

Listing all the poker events where you can play is difficult. There are dozens of them which range in size and entry structure. There are annual events, free-to-play poker tournaments, tournament series, shootouts, bounty tournaments, Sit & Go and Spin & Go tournaments, and the list goes on and on.

The biggest poker tournament of them all is the World Series of Poker. Held annually since 1970 and organized by Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the World Series of Poker has a total of 74 events.

The Main Event is the biggest draw, of course. WSOP covers almost all the major poker variants, with most events sticking to Texas Hold’em. The massive prize pool rewards the top players with millions of dollars, making the tournament one of the most lucrative in history.

Sit & Go tournaments are highly popular nowadays. They differ from all the other types of poker tournaments in the notion that there’s no scheduled time start time – they just start when the tables are full. This type of tournament can be a heads-up tournament or feature a thousand players in satellite and cash format.

Spin & Go poker tournaments are a type of buy-in tournaments with only 3 players. Before the game begins, a random draw determines the prize pool. The prize pool is generally larger than the buy-in might indicate, making Spin & Go tournaments popular with poker fans.

A variant of Spin & Go tournaments, Spin & Go Max tournaments have an even bigger prize pool and more players as well. This tournament gives players more variety and ways to maximize their winnings, with the top prize going as up as 10,000 times the buy-in. After a pre-determined number of rounds, the tournament enters the All-In mode, where all players must bet everything they have.

Satellite poker tournaments are events where the prize doesn’t come in cash – it’s an entry into a bigger tournament. These are ideal for players who find it expensive to enter a major tournament. Satellites are the less expensive way and that’s why they’re a favorite of many players.

The usual buy-in for satellite tournaments is $20, with the main tournament’s buy-in often going 10 times higher than that. Only the top contestant enters the main tournament in cases of 10 players. If there are 20, the first two contestants will gain entry into the top event. The rest of the money is distributed among the runners-up.

In regular multi-table poker events, players are moved from table to table to balance out the number of contestants. The few remaining players in the end are moved to a final table where they play for the top prize. This, however, isn’t the case with shootouts. In this type of poker tournament, players must win their original table before moving to another and repeating the process all over again.

There are three groups of shootout poker tournaments – single, double, and triple shootouts. In single shootouts, you need to win at one table before moving to another. The other terms are self-explanatory – double shootouts require winning at two tables, while triple shoouts require you o win three.

In general, shootouts are played with nine players per table, but if the number of contestants isn’t satisfactory, the early rounds may consist of tables with an unusual number of players.

Progressive knockout tournaments are pretty popular right now as they give players the opportunity to earn cash whenever they knock out an opponent. They are a variant of KO Poker with a fun twist. Whenever you KO a player, you also take a part of their bounty. Over time, the bounty can get pretty big, painting a target on your back.

Half of the buy-in for these is added to the pool prize pool, while the other half remains on your ‘head’ as a bounty. It’s a pretty fun poker tournament that breaks away from conventional rules and makes things more exciting.

Playing Format

Most poker tournaments feature a so-called freezeout format. With a dynamic pool shared by all players in the tournament, whenever a player loses his chips, the table he’s playing at ‘shrinks’. In order to prevent this, players get moved between tables, with those that are unnecessary getting closed. All the remaining players in the end are placed at a final table where they play for the main prize.

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