Tournaments are poker competitions where all the players play at exactly the exact same time and continue to play until only one player is left. Tournaments are fun to play in, have a low entry fees and offer a large prize pool to be won. For all these reasons they are a really popular. They are inexpensive way for novice poker players to learn how to play the game, in addition to a providing a place for more experienced players gain experience.
While there are lots of distinct kinds of poker games played at casinos and online rooms, tournament play is usually reserved for Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and 7-card Stud, because these games have a large following.
Poker tournaments can have as few as 6 players (single table tournaments) to thousands of players for larger events. Large tournaments consist of many tables, each table having 8 to 10 players. The tables are slowly removed from the tourney as players are eliminated, and players are balanced from table to table as needed. (These are referred to as multi-table tournaments). Finally all but the last table will be removed and these last 8 to 10 players play until only one of these stays.
To play in a tournament players have to pay two fees. They have to pay an entry fee to the poker room hosting the tournament to cover the expenses involved. This gives the player an assigned seat and a set quantity of tournament chips with which to play (these chips have no cash value). Players also pay a buy fee. The buy-in fee is held and paid out as prizes. The prize payout differs from tournament to tournament but typically it all goes to the few players fortunate enough to make the final table.
The object of a tournament is to win all the chips. All tournament players start out with the same amount of chips to play with and all start playing at exactly the exact same time. Players play until they lose all their chips and are then removed from the tournament. A tournament continues nonstop, often for many hours, until only one person stays. As playing progresses the stakes rise (Blinds are doubled on a timed interval), making it more and more difficult for players with short stacks to remain in the game.
Players are awarded prize money based on their finishing position in the tournament. The top finishers earn the most money with the 1st place winner usually receiving about 30 percent of the entire prize money, the 2nd place winner about 20% and so forth. The amount of winners and the size of the payouts depend upon the rules for the tournament being played and the number of people playing.
Re-buys and Add-ons
Some poker tournaments allow players a re-buy alternative. This re-buy option allows players to purchase more chips if they run out of these at the beginning of the tournament. A player can buy the same amount of chips which he began the tournament with. Some poker tournaments allow unlimited re-buys during the first hour of play, while other tournaments allow only one re-buy.
An add-on choice is very similar to the re-buy alternative. Add-ons differ in that they’re usually only offered once at the end of their re-buy period and can be purchased regardless of how many chips you have. As the name implies these chips are added on to your stack of chips.
All profits from re-buys and add-ons are added to the prize pool less house fees (if applicable).
Tournament betting is structured with the betting limit increasing regularly. The changes in betting limits occur differently depending on the tournament; some are timed while some increase the limit after a set number of rounds are played.
Balancing and Collapsing Tables
Larger tournaments start out with more than 1 table, each having 8 to 10 players. As the tournament progresses players will be removed and the amount of players at each table won’t remain the same. For the tournament to be fair the number of players at each table should be the same, so the organizers move players from table to table in an effort to keep all the tables equally populated.
Balancing is the practice of moving players from full tables to less full tables when the difference is 3 or more players.
Collapsing tables is the practice of removing tables once there are enough empty spaces among the remaining tables to do so. Thus with 10 player tables when there are 10 empty spaces the players from one table are moved to empty spaces and that table is taken out of play.