Tournament poker is a pretty recent addition to the poker world. For most of the history of poker, it has been a cash game only. Even though poker tournaments has been held for a few decades now, it wasn’t really until the 2000’s that tournament poker really became widespread throughout the world.
Among the many factors that contributed to the rise in tournament poker were the growth of online poker and the advent of televised poker tournaments where spectators could see the players’ hole cards.
Any type of poker can be played as tournament poker, but today Texas Hold’em and Omaha are the two most common variants. The Main Event of famous poker tours such as European Poker Tour (EPT) and World Poker Tour (WPT) have so far always been No Limit Texas Hold’em. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event has been a No Limit Texas Hold’em tournament since its origin in 1970, despite the fact that Texas Hold’em wasn’t a well-known poker variant in Las Vegas during that era.
Poker tournaments online
For a traditional brick-and-mortar casino or poker room, having a huge multi-table tournament is complicated and may require the rent of additional floor space, the hiring of temporary dealers, getting extra tables and chairs, and so on.
Online, the situation is very different, and arranging a tournament with thousands of participants is not really much more complicated or costly than having a small tournament encompassing a few tables. Because of this, the growth of online poker also meant the growth of tournament poker. Online, a poker room can offer a tournament with a really low buy-in and still be able to hand out a really nice prize pot because the number of participants will be so large. This also means that people who doesn’t want to risk more than a few dollars (or even less) can play in poker tournaments. Trying out tournament poker became easy and affordable thanks to the internet.
Online, you will also find plenty of freerolls, i.e. poker tournaments that you can participate in for free. Some freerolls are available to anyone, while others are open for certain players only, e.g. player that have made at least one deposit to the poker room or players from a certain part of the world.
Examples of poker tournaments
- Multi-table tournament (MTT)
- Scheduled tournament
- Sit & Go
- Heads Up
It is possible for a poker tournament to belong to several categories at the same time, e.g. a scheduled multi-table satellite freezout turbo tournament with rebuys and add-on.
Buying into a poker tournament
Most poker tournaments will have a buy-in, a sum that you need to pay to enter the tournament. For some tournaments, the buy-in can be something else than money, e.g. loyalty points. Poker tournaments without a buy-in are called freerolls since they are free to enter.
You will often see the buy-in shown as two amounts, e.g. “$10 + $1” or “$300 + $30”. This is a way of showing how much of the buy-in that will go to the prize pot and how much that will be kept by the organizer.
If you buy-in to a $10 + $1 poker tournament, you pay $11. $10 will go to the prize pot and $1 will go to the organizer.