Poker news | Nov 04, 2022
Tag Team Poker: How, when and where to play
By RTR Alex
Most of the time, poker is a solo game - a cut-throat, every person for themselves kind of game - and when things get serious, you won't be making any friends at the table. That's for sure. But in some very rare cases, you can play tag team events that allow a group of players to take turns competing from the same seat.
Now, they can still be ruthless, and you'll certainly still face some tough competition, but if you make it to the end, splitting that final pot - and more importantly the prize pool - with a friend is a great moment. So, how exactly do you play tag team poker?
How to play tag team poker
The "tag team" format can be altered in a few different ways, but the formula is quite similar regardless of how you switch things up.
The tag team rules don't differ too much from the standard poker tournament. The main difference is that instead of one player playing one stack of chips to the end of the competition, players can tag in and out of the hot seat to play a few betting rounds.
Each player can take as long as they want at the table - betting as many hands and rounds as they'd like - so long as every player from each team plays in the tournament at some point. Though this rule may vary between each location.
In the WSOP Tag Team Event, each player has to play one full "round of blinds" or the team will be disqualified.
Another important rule that is incorporated in almost every tag team tournament, is that players cannot tag in-and-out during a hand. This means if you start a hand, you must play the hand through to the end before you can switch out for another member of the team.
Bottom line: You can only tag-in another team member between hands.
Other versions of tag-team poker may vary the rules slightly, for example, the number of players allowed in a team, the duration of time each player must play, the frequency of substitutions and so on. But these are the most common rules.
The World Series of Poker Tag Team Event
For the first time since 1983, the WSOP held a team tournament in the Event #61 Tag Team Championship in 2016. Plenty of professional players entered the event, including dynamic duo Ryan Fee and Doug Polk - who went on to win the tournament, cashing in $76,679 each. Over 2,000 players in all entered the 2016 $1,000 buy-in event and the event has continued every year since.
"I think being one of the skilled teams is a huge advantage. It’s not a big deal if your teammate punts off your stack somewhat reasonably. But on the weaker teams there is a lot more pressure to just not screw things up. So, we can play our game and not really care if we bust. The less-skilled teams have players that don’t want to be that guy that goes deep, makes a bad call, and busts out." - Doug Polk
The most recent tag-team tourney was in July 2022 where Team Leonard — comprised of Patrick Leonard and Espen Jørstad — won Event #55: $1,000 Tag Team for $148,067 after topping a field of 913 teams.
The popular format received quite the buzz once again and was hosted at the WSOP's new home - Paris and Bally's Las Vegas, with the final day played under the lights on the PokerGO live stream.
The event is open to all, so if you and your friend fancy entering with your chance to split the first-place prize pool and bag yourself a prestigious golden bracelet, then keep an eye out for the 2023 schedule and get your buy-ins on the books!
But be careful, this tournament can make and break friendships! You don't want to step in after a great run from your teammate to bust an all-in bluff on your first hand. This is what makes tag-team games so hard. It's tough to know exactly how to play.
And be prepared to face some of the best players known to touch the felt. Last Tag Team Champs, Leonard and Jorstad, are some of the toughest opponents - to play against them both is not an easy feat.
But if you manage to work your way through the ranks and make it to the final table, you may find your name on poker news headlines around the world.
If you do plan on entering, you should note that the tournament isn't short and depending on how good of a friend you have on your team, you could be left playing multiple days in a row without a break, while everyone else gets to tag in and out of play. So, if there's anything to take on board, it's probably this final quote from Espen Jorstad, 2022 champion of the tag team event.
A lot of people had played solo for the last few days," said Leonard. "Some had played four days by themselves, whereas we've probably played about 50:50. We were fresh and taking hours in, hours out, and when I was out I was studying and I knew what to do coming in, so that was our biggest advantage. - Espen Jorstad