If you have ever watched poker on television, chances are you’ve seen a poker tournament. This highly competitive format has given rise to huge real money prizes, amazing television coverage, and has even turned many poker players into worldwide celebrities. If you have played a little poker before, but aren’t quite sure what to make of poker tournaments, read on to learn all about this exciting and lucrative form of poker play. (You might also be interested in our page about online blackjack tournaments).
A poker tournament is a competition in which players compete in a game of poker until all players but one have run out of chips — the last player remaining is the winner. Tournaments can begin with just a single table worth of players, or can feature thousands of players all competing for the right to become the champion. Each player must pay a buy-in to enter the tournament, with prizes for the top players coming out of what the players have paid.
There are several key differences between tournament poker and cash game poker. In a tournament, a player’s chips do not represent cash; instead, each player receives a certain number of chips at the beginning of the tournament. In other words, the chips are basically just a way of keeping score. Once a player runs out of chips, they are eliminated from the tournament and, unlike a real money game, cannot buy more chips to continue playing (some tournaments have exceptions to this rule in the early rounds).
Another key difference is while a cash game will be played with the same blinds and/or antes throughout a session, tournament formats will have the blinds constantly rising throughout play. This is done to force the actions, as players who do not accumulate chips consistently will see their stacks eaten away by the rapidly increasing blinds and antes.
Finally, the payout structure is much different in a poker tournament when compared to a cash game. In a cash game, you simply keep whatever you leave the table with. In a poker tournament, your winnings will be determined by when you are eliminated, with the final 10% or so of players typically earning prize money, while the rest win nothing. The last player with all the chips wins the tournament, and will win the largest prize as a result.
Poker tournaments are a key part of the game selection of any online poker site. Our recommended site is Intertops. This Australian-friendly poker site offers a great variety of tournaments for you to choose from!
The cost of poker tournaments can vary tremendously. Some tournaments cost a dollar or less (or even being offered for free, in the case of freerolls) while others can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more — one tournament at the 2012 World Series of Poker even cost $1 million to play in.
The cost of a poker tournament is typically broken up into two parts: a buy-in and an entry fee. The buy-in is the portion of the cost which goes into the prize pool players are competing for, while the entry fee goes to the poker room for organising and running the tournament. For instance, a tournament listed as costing $10 + $1 costs $11 to play in, with $10 of that amount going into the prize pool.
A satellite tournament is one in which players are competing not for cash, but for a seat in a larger and more expensive tournament. These tournaments can roughly be broken into two types: smaller satellites offering a single seat into the bigger event, and “super satellites” offering as many seats as the prize pool can support.
In Web poker, satellites will often be broken into several steps or levels so players off all budgets can participate. For instance, there may be a $10 satellite event that awards seats into a $100 satellite, which in turn awards seats into a real $1,000 tournament. Players have the option of buying directly into the $1,000 event, or can play at the satellite level most comfortable to them.
For many years, the biggest poker tournament in Australia has been the Aussie Millions. This prestigious event has long been the richest poker tournament south of the equator, and includes not only the $10,000 Main Event that offers the winner well over a million dollars in prize money, but also super high roller events with buy-ins of $100,000 and $250,000. These tournaments attract many of the world’s best players. The Aussie Millions takes place each January at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. The World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific also saw its debut in Crown Casino as of April 2013, which starts with five bracelet events and a $10,000 Main Event.
Some of the most important poker tournaments in the world take place at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. These include the $10,000 World Championship – also known as the Main Event – a Texas Hold’em tournament in which the winner not only wins several million dollars, but is also crowned poker’s World Champion for the year. The WSOP also has some additional events held in other locations, such as the aforementioned WSOP Asia-Pacific and the WSOP Europe.
But the World Series of Poker isn’t the only big name in tournament poker. The World Poker Tour holds prestigious events throughout the world, and the European Poker Tour has become the third “major” tour in the world. In fact, a player who wins a tournament at the WSOP, on the WPT, and on the EPT is said to have won poker’s Triple Crown.