Poker Tournament Selection

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Poker Tournament Selection

There’s lots of good tournaments in online poker – but some are better and more profitable than others.  This is why professionals use good tournament selection before playing.

Field Size of Tournaments

Field size is important for two reasons.  The first is to do with variance and ROI.  In tournaments with bigger entry fields (let’s say over 300 entrants), the chances of running deep into the final table are much lower because there are more players to beat.  In the short term this increases MTT variance, which can skew your tournament ROI and leave you going lots of game without any profits (you can go up to 20 game in a row). 

In the long term however, this variance will balance out.   Pro MTT players like Chris Moorman for example have managed an average ITM of 16% with long-term 36% ROI in big field games.

The truth is that you can make more money in bigger tournaments, however these last a lot longer and can mean endless hours of perfect play without making any money.  The length of these games  can also reduce your attention and impact negatively on your play. 

Just remember that smaller field tournaments give you greater ROI and ITM initially, and also reduce variance.  This is why I recommend new and micro-stakes players stick to games with low field sizes (below 200) and don’t fall for the big monthly promotion tournaments which attract lots of pros.

The second point I want to make is about guaranteed tournaments with overlays.  Overlay tournaments don’t receive enough entrants to cover the prizepool so the poker room has to fill rest (this is the tournament overlay).  A bigger overlay is always better because it means you’re getting better value for money.  If you’re reading this and looking for overlay tournaments then I strongly recommend signing up to Carbon Poker.

Tournament Structure

This effects your playing style.  Aggressive/Loose tournament players will naturally be better in turbo/fast structure events such as Stars 180 man MTTs or Carbon Poker’s 100 man turbo games.  Tight-agressive players (TAG) on the other hand, who use small ball strategy should naturally find deep stack tournaments better to competeit.  Depending on your style you should be playing one or the other.


The quality of players in the games you play can change your long term ROI.  Ideally you always want to play against weak opponents who make lots of mistakes.   Party Poker, Titan Poker and Carbon Poker are well known to have weak players in their tournaments.  For more information see our tournaments guide.

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