An increasingly popular way to play poker is in tournaments. In a poker tournament, all players start with an equal amount of chips, and then the game goes on until all players have lost all their chips. Except one - the winner.
Your ranking in the tournament
Your finishing place in the tournament is decided by the number of players that are left when you lose your last chip. If five players remain, you finish sixth, and so on.
Division of the prize pool
Usually in poker tournaments, the winner does not take it all. Instead, the prize pool is divided among the best placed players, who all finish in the money. But the winner gets a large piece of the cake, so winning a tournament is still nice. Very nice, actually.
Increasing blinds and antes
To make sure that the tournament reaches its end within a reasonable time, the blinds or antes are increased in fixed intervals. This way, if you do not manage to make your chip stack grow, you will find the blinds or antes very costly after a while.
Types of Tournaments
Poker tournaments come in different varieties. Often, ten people sit down around a table to play a tournament. Other tournaments gather hundreds or even thousands of players. But you may also play a tournament against just one opponent!
Sit and Go tournaments
A sit-and-go tournament (S&G) begins as soon as enough players have joined in. Usually, a S&G consists of nine or ten players around a single table, but there are also S&Gs for two or three tables.
A multi-table tournament (MTT) starts at a preset point of time. It may be open to hundreds or even thousands of players.
In a heads-up tournament, two players sit down with an equal amount of chips and play until one of them has all the chips. The blinds or antes are increased during the tournament.
A satellite is a tournament where the first prize is not a cash payout, but a seat to another tournament. The idea is that you can enter an expensive tournament by winning a tournament that is not as expensive.
For example, if ten players sit down and play a $10 tournament, the winner could win a seat to a $100 tournament.
In large satellites, there may be several seats up for grabs.
Rebuys and add-ons
The particular thing about tournaments is that you cannot reach into your wallet and buy more chips, as in a normal cash game. When you are out of chips, you are out of the tournament.
However, some tournaments actually allow you to buy more chips - make a rebuy - but only during the so called rebuy period at the beginning of the tournament. Depending on the rules of the specific tournament, you may make a limited or unlimited number of rebuys. When the rebuy period ends, you may make a last rebuy, called an add-on.
After the rebuy period, the tournament will go on as a normal tournament, with players busting out as they lose their last chips.
The rebuys and add-ons are added to the prize pool.
A tournament with no rebuys or add-ons is called a freezeout.
Game Advice For Tournaments
Avoiding close calls
In a cash game, if you get all your chips into the pot with a hand that is just a small favorite, you will be a winner in the long run, even though you may lose a pot once in a while. But in a tournament, if you lose one such close situation, you are out of the tournament. This is why you may want to be a bit more patient in tournaments, and wait for stronger hands.
On the other hand, your opponents will be more cautious too, something that you may take advantage of.
Playing on the bubble
The bubble is the highest finishing place not being payed. If the ten best places are payed, place eleven is the bubble.
Being the highest placed player not getting any money is somehow the worst possible result in a tournament. You have invested a lot of time, without getting any reward.
Therefore, play on the bubble may be quite different. If you have a small stack of chips, why would you put it at risk when you can get into the money by just waiting for another player to lose. If, on the other hand, you have a lot of chips and the small stacks are waiting for each other to lose, you may pick up some uncontested pots.