Over the last few years, poker tournaments have become increasingly popular online and in “real life.” You may have watched a poker tournament on the television or live streamed one from somewhere like Twitch; you may have even witnessed a local poker tournament taking place around town.
Regardless of how you came to learn of poker tournaments, chances are you’re here to figure out how you can get involved. Well, never fear, as we’ve gathered all the information you could need to ensure you can enter the world of poker tournaments.
What Are Poker Tournaments?
On the surface, describing what a poker tournament is seemed quite simple: it’s a competition during which individuals play poker to win prizes, recognition, and, occasionally, titles. The tournaments can be played between as few as two people or can be made up of thousands of individual players engaging in their own table games against competitors, which often occurs online. Let’s also clarify that in the vast majority of cases you hear “poker tournament,” the organizer is referring to a Texas Hold’em tournament, which is currently the most popular variant of poker. If other variants are involved, the announcement will specify them.
Usually, each of these players must pay a fixed buy-in to get involved, whether the tournament is open to all or invitational. A buy-in must depend on the individual tournament, with the more expensive tournaments often having the biggest prizes and titles to win. For example, the World Series of Poker Main Event buy-in will set you back $10,000 as it is by far one of the most prestigious poker events in the world. Though, particularly online, there are some exceptions where there is far more variety, including free poker tournaments that still reward players with real money despite them never having to deposit or risk their own cash.
After the buy-in stage, players will receive a specific amount of poker chips that can be used during the tournament. Of course, once a player runs out of chips, they will be eliminated from the poker tournament, so the aim is to hang on to your chips for as long as possible while knocking competitors out by taking all of their chips. If you are playing in a bounty tournament, you should aim to knock players with bounties over their heads out to collect a reward. While bounties do occur at real-world tournaments, if you’re looking to get involved in them often, then there are plenty taking place at online poker sites at any given time.
Fortunately for those who aren’t feeling particularly confident about all this, many online and off tournaments allow players to cash a percentage of their chips in about halfway through the tournament. As for how much you get, that will be entirely up to the event organizers or site owners, and once your time to cash out has passed, you’ll have to stay in the tournament for good.
When Do You Know You’re Ready To Enter A Poker Tournament?
Players must practice before entering into any serious poker tournament with all that in mind. This can be done by playing with friends or family, although many choose to practice by playing online. As we’ve explained above, online and offline tournaments are quite similar in nature. Still, the internet-based poker portal certainly offers a lot more variety when it comes to tournament types and variants, including Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, and more. They also tend to be far more forgiving as there’s no real-world pressure or face-to-face competitors that may put you off.
You’ll want to start by learning all there is to know about the very basics of poker. After all, ensuring you have a strong foundation will help you build your skills. Begin by learning poker hands by heart, as without knowing these, you’re unlikely to get very far. Once you’re absolutely confident in your ability to organize strong hands, do some research on how you should play each of those hands, especially whether you should raise, bet or fold. These are known as strategies, and believe us when we say there are literally hundreds of different ones you can learn and practice, depending upon your playing style.
If you’re planning to play in online tournaments, this may well be enough to get you through a poker tournament, but if you’re entering into a live competition, then there’s certainly a lot more to learn. If 60% of a poker game is decided by the hands that you get and your skill at playing these hands, then the other 40% is all in how you perceive and are perceived by your competitors. A live tournament is where bluffing will really come into play. For example, the ability to fool your fellow players into thinking exactly what you’d like, causing them to either fold or raise. We recommend reading up on body language in general, not just in poker, to ensure you have at least a basic knowledge of how other people tend to react to certain events.
Yes, there’s a lot there to prepare before you can be truly ready to join a poker tournament, but once you’ve mastered these basics, then it’s time to get involved in the real thing.
Tips For Tournament Newbies
Now, it’s time for the real thing. As we’re sure you’ll know from experience, no amount of practice can fully prepare you for the big day, but at least you have all the tools you need to succeed. Whether you’re playing online or live with other players, there are a few tips you absolutely should keep in mind.
Firstly, try to stay calm even if it does feel a little overwhelming. At the end of the day, this is a poker tournament, not a fight to the death, and you’re there to have fun.
Remember to always pay close attention to what’s happening, even if it isn’t your turn. It would help if you saw what your opponents are doing and, as the game progresses, you’ll also want to keep an eye on the chips.
Finally, don’t let your newbie status stop you from making a few assertive moves. For example, if someone raises in the later stages, chances are they’re bluffing, which gives you a good chance to be a little risky. Hopefully, you’ll be rewarded, and your confidence will grow.
Both live and online tournaments can be entertaining, though we completely understand if you prefer one over the other. You may like the real-world feel of live tournaments, while the slightly more protected online world may be better for you. Regardless of which you pick, or if you’re really into it and pick both, these poker tournament tips are sure to help you through those beginning games.