Poker tournaments have become hugely popular in the poker world, both online and offline. The World Series of Poker has become the most prestigious poker tournament in the world, but has come a long way since its beginnings. In the first ever WSOP, in 1970, a player called Johnny Moss won the event which only had 7 entrants. If you compare that to the 2009 WSOP where 6,494 players entered for $10,000 each, you can see that poker tournaments have become huge. In the 2009 Main Event, the winner will receive $8.5 million, that's 850 times their buy-in, what a profit!
The poker room will charge a registration fee on top of your buy in to the tournament. For instance if you wanted to enter a $100 online poker tournament the poker room might charge each player 10% of the entry fee to enter. Therefore your total buy-in would be $110.
There are various types of poker tournaments, including heads-up tournaments, re-buy tournaments, bounty tournaments and many more. New types of tournaments are being created all the time by online poker rooms and PokerStars prides itself on being the number one tournament poker room in the world, with a new tournament starting every second.
No matter the type of tournament, all players start with an equal number of chips with blinds usually increasing every 15-30 minutes depending on the type of tournament. The quicker the blinds are raised the looser you are forced to play, playing hands you usually wouldn't and betting on a coin-flip so you aren't blinded out of the tournament. This is why good tournament players prefer to play "slow tournaments", where they have longer blind periods, which allows them to play tighter and only play their strongest hands.
One particular skill of tournament players is the ability to read opponents. Throughout a tournament many players will be moved to and from your table randomly to ensure there are an equal number of players at all tables. For example, if there are two tables with eight players and a table with ten players, two players will be moved from the ten-handed table to each other the other tables meaning all tables will now have 9 players. This continues until the final table where the tournament only finishes when one players has all of the chips.
One thing I would stress is to play to win the tournament. There are so many players who refuse to risk their chips no matter what cards they hold in the hope of floating in to the cash, but there is a huge difference between winning and just about cashing. Here is an example of why you should play to win.
In a tournament with 100 players, it might only be the top ten who cash, but cashing in tenth place isn't very attractive compared to playing for first place and winning. Let's say the 100 players paid $100+$10 each making a $10,000 prize pool, and the top ten are paid. The payout structure might look like this:
1st - 30% of the prize pool = $3,000
2nd- 20% of the prize pool = $2,000
3rd- 13% of the prize pool = $1,300
4th- 10% of the prize pool = $1,000
5th- 7% of the prize pool = $700
6th- 6% of the prize pool = $600
7th- 5% of the prize pool = $500
8th- 4% of the prize pool = $400
9th- 3% of the prize pool = $300
10th- 2% of the prize pool = $200
As you can see placing tenth will only get you $90 profit since you paid $100 to enter and $10 registration fee, whereas placing first will see you win 30 times the amount you paid to enter. Quite a difference between ten places $2,800 to be exact. So playing to squeeze in to the cash in tenth place shouldn?t enter your mind, always look for chances to build your stack and you will be on your way to placing first. Good Luck!