Different Types of Poker Tournaments

Texas Hold em poker has become one of the most popular poker games played both online and at land based casinos. Several yearly major poker events brought that popularity including large tournaments, which give the opportunity to the players to gain big amount of money.

What exactly does a poker tournament looks like? Mostly at tournaments the competitors play No Limit Texas Hold em but it is not unusual competing in the limited version of the game. The online poker tournaments are structured competitions where players compete against each other to gather all the chips held by the opponents.

In normal cash poker games, each hand is unrelated to any other. Players can quit whenever they want but in tournaments, players cannot quit and cash out their chips. Play continues until there is a winner.

There are some different types of tournaments:

Single Table Texas Hold em Tournaments (SNG)

This format is very popular in online Texas Hold em, and is also referred to as a shootout, or a ‘sit and go’. Single table Texas Hold em games can be interpreted a couple different ways. All the players start with the same arbitrary dollar amount.

This format has both advantages and disadvantages, but for most good online poker players the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. If player’s running well and hr has won a couple nice hands and has a healthy stack, unfortunately he can’t win more than what first place pays.

At the same time, if player’s catching cold cards all he has at risk is how much he put up to enter. Unlike a Texas Hold em Poker cash game, especially no limit Texas Hold em games, the risk is defined in a tournament. If his tolerance for risk is low or he is a player that goes on tilt, at least, his downside is limited.

Multi Table Online Poker Tournaments (MTT)

There are multi player online poker tables, where everyone pays the same entry fee. This format is similar to single table online poker tournaments, in that players are 9 or 10 starting with the same amount of chips.

The difference here is that the table can be one of a hundred tables, all-playing to make one final table. This is the format of the tournament used in World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour. The risk is limited to the entry fee, which every player pays to participate at the tournament.

Elimination tournaments (Freeze Out)

These are the most common type of poker tournament. All players begin with the same amount of chips, and play continues until one player has accumulated all the chips. As players are eliminated, the active players are re-seated at fewer and fewer tables. While the winner of the tournament is the player who accumulates all the chips, the payout structure rewards several players. Commonly the final table of players would receive prize money.

Rebuy Tournament

These are tournaments where players who lose all of their chips are allowed to rebuy more chips and continue to play. This is only allowed for a certain amount of time, most often 1 hour. There are also “Add-on” tournaments where you can rebuy more chips once you reach a certain threshold before you bust out.

Rebuys often lead to larger total prize pools being played for than would be standard for the initial entry cost. Rebuy tournaments generally feature more aggressive play earlier on as players do not face the prospect of elimination if they lose all their chips.

Shootout Tournaments

In this style of tournament, each table plays down to a single winner. Then table winners proceed to a finals portion of the event. So, if a tournament starts with sixteen tables, the sixteen table winners then compete elimination style until there is a winner. Shootout tournaments normally last several hours less that the other.

I have also seen other shootout tournaments that will play a certain number of hands or a certain amount of time before the round ends. Then, between the top 1 and 4 players are selected out of the 10 to advanced to the next stage of the shootout.


These are preparatory, mini tournaments. These mini tournaments are one of the strategies used by the online casino sites to attract poker players. Often the prize pool includes a seat for one of the biggest poker events for the year.

Many satellites at online poker rooms will offer a prize of a free seat into an expensive poker tournament ($100+ entry fee). The thing that makes these tournaments popular is the small chance to win a lot of money while you are only risking a small amount of money.

One Response to “Different Types of Poker Tournaments”

  1. Thanks for the article! I wish you good luck in poker tournaments in the future. All the best, from Kansas. Tucker.

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