Online poker tournaments

Tournaments are what attract most players to online poker with the opportunity to win huge prizes from a relatively small buy-in amount.

At many online poker sites you can play a wide variety of tournaments, including satellites, single-table tournaments, sit-and-go tourneys and many more.

This article will run you through everything you need to know to begin playing tournament poker on the internet, including explaining how it all works.

Multi Table Tournaments (MTT)

All players in a MTT begin with the same number of chips with each player paying the same amount to enter. Several tables will be playing at the same time within the tournament, as each player vies for the other players’ chips in an attempt to eliminate the competition. The blinds increase incrementally as the tournament progresses. As players are eliminated tables are “broken”. The online platform will automatically re-assign players to other tables to maintain balance, as well as keep full tables whenever possible. The tournament will culminate in a final table with the last remaining players. The overall tournament winner is the player who wins all the chips. The top tournament finishers are awarded cash prizes, dependent on the number of entries.

Single Table Tournaments (STT)

STTs work in the same way as MTTs except there is only one table to begin with – consisting of either 2, 5 or 10 players. With a maximum of 10 players taking part, the running time is usually less than an hour for a 10-player tourney and even less for 5 or 2 players. If time is short then STTs are advisable. STTs generally have no scheduled start time but begin once the table has filled up. A payout structure for a STT tournament could look like this:

1st 2nd 3rd
10 Players 50% 30% 20%
5 Players 70% 30%
2 Players 100%


Freeroll Tournaments

Freeroll tournaments are a fantastic way for beginners to learn the poker ropes. Players can register for these tournaments for free and then practise with the chance of winning real money. Many poker operators give away thousands of dollars in freerolls every day. Freerolls tend to attract large numbers of players, often several thousand, and so can take several hours to complete. Once you’ve mastered the basics, we strongly recommend moving on to micro buy-in tournaments or capped cash games.

Re-buy Tournaments

In normal (freezeout) tournaments, when you lose all your chips you are eliminated from the tournament. However, in a re-buy tournament you have the option to buy back in any time you bust out or when your chip stack falls below the original size. The re-buy period usually lasts for the first hour at which time all players (regardless of their stack size) can also purchase an add-on. Both re-buys and add-ons cost the same as the original buy-in amount and will get you the same number of chips. Re-buys are a great way of getting yourself back into the game after a bad beat but remember to manage your bank roll. All the extra money from re-buys goes straight into the pot.

Satellite Tournaments

Satellites allow you to potentially win millions of dollars with very little investment. In a satellite you pay a buy-in as normal but instead of winning cash you win entry into a tournament with a higher buy-in. For example you might enter a $1 satellite where the winner wins entry into a second tournament that costs $25 to enter – there will normally be one player who progresses for every $25 in the pot in such a satellite. Often live events such as the World Series of Poker cost thousands of dollars to buy in to but poker operators such as Pokerstars and 888 offer satellites to these events from as little as $1.

Turbo Tournaments

Turbo tournaments are for those in a rush or who simply don’t have the time to sit through a regular MTT but still want the big payouts. Generally these tournaments will have a fast blind structure (usually five minutes) and a starting stack of just 1000 chips. There is little time to wait for that premium hand.

Deep Stack Tournaments

Deep stack tournaments are the opposite to turbo in that you get a massive 2500 chips in your starting stack. The blinds begin at a certain length but get gradually longer as the tournament progresses, favouring the patient, experienced poker player.

Guaranteed Tournaments

In a guaranteed tournament, there is a guaranteed prize pool no matter how many players register for the tournament. For example in a $25 buy-in there should be 400 players to make a prize pool of $10,000 but with a $10,000 guaranteed tournament, the operator will pay out $10,000 even if only 200 players register. Of course, if more than 400 register then the total prize will be greater again. Guaranteed tournaments can therefore offer great value if not enough players register.

Heads-up games

To win any tournament you must first be able to win heads-up. Heads-up is when there are only two players which may mean the last two players of an MTT or simply two players in a heads-up game. With only two players the pace is fast and hectic and you need to be aggressive to be in with a chance.