About Poker Tournaments

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The Different Types of Poker Tournaments

Poker Tournaments are structured competitions where players compete against each other to win all the chips.  This article will describe the  different types of poker tournament structures and  how they vary.  Look for the Best Tournaments recommended by us.

Unlike cash games (where player’s leave or come when they want), poker tournaments run continuously until only one winner remains.  Most big poker tournaments take synchronized “breaks”  – which halt the play and give players an opportunity to rest or leave the table.  It is not uncommon for big or popular live tournaments (such as the WSOP Main Event) to last for 60 or more hours.  Live poker events such as the WSOP can run for 2 weeks before the November Nine and winners are announced. 

Smaller and local poker events can last as little as a few hours.  Ultimately it depends on a number of factors including:

·         Total Number of Players

·         Number of Starting Chips

·         Length of Time between Blind Level Increases

·          Size of the Blind Increases

·          Use of an Ante

·         Availability of Re-buys or Add-ons

·         Skill Level of Players

·         Cost of Entering the Tournament

Types of Poker Tournaments

Poker Tournaments vary depending on their strucure and format.  The length and prize money involved in tournaments depend on the type of tournament being played.  Live freezeout tournaments such as the Aussie Millions have prizepools worth millions of dollars.  Depending on the poker tournament structure, your playing strategy can (and should) change greatly.

Elimination or Freeze Out Tournaments.   These are one of the most common type of live and internet poker events.  In this structure, all  players will begin with the same amount of chips (which they have bought in for).  Players are constantly re-seated as others are eliminated (in order to balance an even number of players on each tables – assuming the event has more than multiple tables in action).  While the winner of the tournament will be the player who accumulates all the chips; the payout structure for Freeze Out poker events reward a specific number of final positions once the event is over.  For example, in a tournament of 100 players, only the top 10 may receive payouts, with each higher placed finisher receive more than the previous.

Re-buy Tournaments.   Re-buy poker tournaments all players involved who get eliminated or busted out early (lose their chips) to re-buy into the event.  For a limited period into the tournament this means poker players can enter the tournament again with the original amount of chips.  The further into the game these players re-buy however, the more disadvantaged they become, as the average chip stack will be higher than the “re-buy” starting amount.  Typically the advantages of re-buy events are that they give extra opportunities to players who’ve been eliminated from the tournament. They also tend to provide larger prize pools than non-re-buy events.

Shootout Tournaments.  These are considerably different from regular poker tournaments.  In Shootout Tournaments, tables are not combined as players leave the tournament.  Instead, each table in a multi-table tournament (MTT) competes among themselves. A single winner for each table proceeds to the next level of the event.  For example if a tournament starts with 20 tables; the 20 table winners will then compete in this format until they reach the final table – where the game is played like any normal freezeout event.  Shootout Tournaments generally dont’ last as long as regular tournament events. 

Daniel Negreanu on Shootouts:  “A shootout might start with 10 tables of 10 players each, but these tables don’t break down as players are eliminated. Instead, each table plays down until one player remains at each of the 10 tables. Those 10 players then move to the final table where each person starts with an equal amount of chips. In my opinion, shootouts require more skill than traditional tournaments.  To advance in shootouts, players are forced to play well under a variety circumstances: full-table play, short-handed play, three-handed play, and ultimately, heads-up play. In a traditional tournament, just hanging in there and trying to survive can get you all the way to the final table. Not so in a shootout, because all ten players are in a must-win situation and have to play accordingly.”

What Negreanu is stating here, is that it is harder to win a shootout tournament.  Not only do you have to be successful at the various stages of the tournament, but you also have to play faster and under more pressure.  This is because you have to take more chances than you would in a regular poker tournament.

Satellite Tournaments.  Many internet poker players will be familiar with satellite events.  They are essentially mini-events or preliminary poker tournaments where, depending on the specific structure, the top finishing players will be gain entry to a bigger/better main event.  Satellites can also lead to further satellites, and so forth.  The advantage of satellites is that they provide great opportunities for players to compete cheaply in order to qualify for main events (with big prize pools).  These can also offer giant returns of investment (ROI) without having to fork out much money.  A famous and recent example includes the French online poker player Adrien Allain (23), who won the 2009 Asian Pacific Tour (APT) Macau Event after qualifying on a $5 satellite tournament on PKR.

Heads Up Tournaments.  These provide one of the most interesting dynamics and formats of tournments.  In Heads Up Tournaments, there will only be two players involved who play each other directly.  In these tournaments players will always be playing a blind.  What makes Heads Up poker tournaments so interesting is that more than anywhere else, the cards in these tournaments become practically irrelevant.  Along with this, most internet poker players – especially new internet poker players – will have had little practice in Heads Up tournaments.  This is because they are only normally reached by being the last two players in a regular freezeout style tournament.   Because these are so difficult to reach, most players will not have experience at this point.  Unfortunately for heads ups fanatics, there are very limited opportunities to play Heads Up tournaments live.   Howeverthere internet poker sites are full of them, with 24/7 sngs running at nearly all internet poker sites.  Carbon Poker, Party Poker and Full Tilt Poker all offer these tournaments in a number of stakes.

Bounty Tournaments.  These are a recent innovation by internet poker sites to attract new players and increase the excitement tournaments.  In Bounty Tournaments,  players will receive a “bounty” for every player they successfully knock out.  In No Limit Hold’em games, these bounties can  be quite generous.  As such, they make games exciting by encouraging players to call ‘all-ins’ and act more aggresive.  Ultimately they are worthwhile as they provide more opportunities to make money, even if you don’t make the regular payoff sports.

Whatever your choice of tourament, you can try out and test these different  tournaments at our favourite internet poker site Titan Poker with a 100% up to $500 Bonus.

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