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Poker news | Mar 20, 2023

How online poker tournaments work

By RTR Alex

How online poker tournaments work
Online poker tournaments have gained immense popularity over the years, as players from all over the world come together to compete against one another for cash prizes. While the game itself is the same as traditional poker, there are some key differences in how online poker tournaments work.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the various types of poker games and tournaments, as well as how they differ from each other.

Types of Poker Games

Before we delve into the different types of tournaments, it’s important to understand the various types of poker games that are played. The most popular types of poker games include:

  • Texas Hold’em: This is the most commonly played variant of poker, in which each player is dealt two cards face down, and five community cards are dealt face up in the centre of the table.

  • Omaha: In this game, each player is dealt four cards face down, and five community cards are dealt face up in the centre of the table. Players must use two of their own cards, along with three of the community cards, to make the best possible hand.

  • Seven-Card Stud: In this game, each player is dealt seven cards, with the first two and the seventh card being dealt face down, and the other four cards being dealt face up.

  • Razz: This is a lowball variant of Seven-Card Stud, in which the player with the lowest hand wins.

Types of Poker Tournaments

There are several different types of poker tournaments that players can participate in, each with its own set of rules and regulations. You will find most of these tournaments in both cash game and play money formats - both of which will usually allocate the same number of chips to each player before the event begins. This ensures that no player begins the tournament short stacked, therefore being a super high roller does not give you an advantage at the table before you start playing.

Some of the most common types of poker tournaments include:

Sit-and-Go Tournaments

These tournaments are designed to be played by a specific number of players, typically between six and ten. Once all the seats are filled, the tournament begins. These tournaments are usually fast-paced and last only a few hours.

Multi-Table Tournaments

These tournaments can have hundreds or even thousands of players and are played over the course of several days. Players are eliminated as they lose their chips, and the last player remaining is declared the winner.

Shootout Tournaments

In a shootout tournament, players compete at individual tables until there is only one player left at each table. These players then move on to the next round, and the process repeats until there is only one player left.

Rebuy Tournaments

In a rebuy tournament, players are allowed to buy back in if they lose all their chips. This allows players to continue playing even if they have a bad run of luck and get knocked out from the tournament.

Bounty Tournaments

Bounty tournaments offer a unique twist to the traditional online poker tournament format. In these tournaments, players are offered a certain amount of money for knocking out a specific player during the game. This prize money, known as a "bounty," is awarded to the player who successfully eliminates their opponents. With every player that is knocked out, a bounty is offered, increasing the excitement and competitiveness of the tournament.

Freeroll Tournaments

Freerolls are those where players can participate without paying for a buy-in. Although the entry is free, you have a chance to win money here. Freerolls are ideal for players new to poker. They are able to learn the game without risking their money. By learning the strategies, players can add to their bankrolls considerably through freerolls.

Satellite Tournaments

Satellite tournaments are a popular way for players to gain entry to major online poker events. Typically held by online poker rooms before grand events like the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the winners of satellite tournaments are offered entry to the main event.

The buy-ins for satellite tournaments are usually a fraction (5-10%) of the buy-ins for the main event. For instance, if the buy-in for the main event is $200, the buy-in for the satellite tournament would be around $10 to $20. This makes satellite tournaments a more affordable option for players who want to participate in major events without having to spend a lot of money upfront.

Double or Nothing Tournaments

Double or Nothing is a variant of Sit n Go tournaments. However, the payout structure of this tournament is very different from regular Sit n Gos.

Double or Nothing is usually played with 10 players, where only the top 5 finishers receive double the amount of their buy-in from the prize pool. On the other hand, the bottom 5 players receive nothing. The prize received by the winner is the same as what the player in the 5th position receives. Hence, there is not much competitiveness in the tournament to collect chips.

Differences between Online and Traditional Tournaments

While the game of poker itself remains the same, there are some key differences between online and traditional poker tournaments.

One of the biggest differences is the speed at which the game is played. Online tournaments tend to move much faster than traditional tournaments, as there is no need to shuffle and deal cards manually. Compare this to the biggest event in poker, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) - where the majority of the tournament events are played in Las Vegas - singular events will often take days to finish following the tournament start time.

Another key difference is the ability to play poker from anywhere. Online tournaments can be played online from the comfort of your own home, while traditional tournaments require players to travel to a physical location. As a result, online tournaments tend to have a wider reach compared to brick-and-mortar events.