Poker Tournament General Info

Tournament Poker Rules: How to Play and Conquer Large-Format Poker Competitions

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If you’re looking to enhance your poker game, career, and track record, poker tournaments are a great way to do it. They offer the opportunity to play for impressive prize pools against some of the best poker players in the world.

Moreover, poker tournament champions, such as those that compete in the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the oldest and largest poker tournament in the world, become poker celebrities in their own right.

Playing in one can be daunting if you’re new to poker tournaments. There are a lot of different poker rules and formats to choose from, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Don’t worry; we can help. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about poker tournaments, from the different competition formats to the tournament rules you need to follow to succeed.

Basic Tournament Poker Instructions: How They Work

In poker tournaments, players compete against each other for a prize pool. The prize pool size depends on the number of players and the tournament entry fee each player must pay to compete.

Players start with a set number of chips and aim to be the last player standing with chips. As players lose all their chips, they are eliminated from the tournament. The blinds (forced bets made by two players before any cards are dealt) regularly increase as the tournament progresses.

In contrast, in cash games, players buy in for a set amount and can cash out at any time. The prizes in cash games are not predetermined like they are in poker tournaments.

Tournament poker rules dictate that all players must start with an equal number of chips. The blinds also increase at set intervals. These factors mean that the prizes in poker tournaments are predetermined.

Tournament Formats: Different Ways to Play

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Poker tournaments come in different shapes and sizes. You can play them live in events like the WSOP, or online on poker sites like GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. However you decide to play, you’ll need to be aware of the different poker tournament formats to choose the right one for you. Here are some of the most common.

Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs)

As the name suggests, Multi-Table Tournaments are poker tournaments that take place across several tables. These tournaments can have anything from a few hundred to several thousand players, with each table having nine to 10 players.

Players are eliminated from the tournament when they lose all their chips. As players are eliminated, the remaining contestants move to different tables to compete with other winners. The goal in an MTT is to reach the final table, where the last remaining player wins the pot.

The prize pool in an MTT is usually determined by the number of players and the entry fee. The more players there are, the bigger the prize pool will be.

The WSOP is a kind of MTT. If you play WSOP tournaments, you can choose from various poker variants that take place over several weeks. This includes satellite or qualifying competitions that offer winners a seat at the WSOP Main Event, a final table where players compete in a $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold’em game.

Single-Table Tournaments (STT)

There are also Single-Table Tournaments, which take place at a single table. These tournaments usually have between two and 10 players. Save for the number of participating tables, the rules of STTs are essentially similar to MTTs. Players must try to preserve their chips to stay in the game.

Sit & Go’s are one example of an STT. It’s a poker tournament that starts as soon as enough players have bought in. The prize pool in this type of tournament is usually split between the top three finishers.


Poker tournaments can be a Freezeout, which means that once you’ve lost all your chips, you’re out of the game. There are no rebuys or add-ons in a Freezeout. Once your chips are gone, so is your chance to win any prize money.


Alternatively, a poker tournament can have a rebuy structure. You can buy more chips to continue playing if you lose all your chips. The rebuy period usually lasts for a limited time, after which the competition reverts to a Freezeout.

Rebuy payments are added to the game’s prize pool.

Tournament Tips: How to Play Well and Outlast Your Opponents

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Now that you know the different poker tournaments, it’s time to learn how to play them. Here are five tips on giving yourself the best chance to win.

1. Prepare your bankroll.

In poker, bankroll management is key to success. This is especially true when competing in poker tournaments. You need to ensure that you have enough to cover the cost of entry fees and rebuys (if applicable).

You must also be mindful of stake sizes. You must prepare a considerable sum if you play in a tournament with high buy-ins. Conversely, you can invest less if you play in a tournament with lower stakes.

What’s important is to be financially ready for the type of poker tournament you’re planning to join, improve your game staying power, and avoid biting off more than you can chew.

2. Manage your chips carefully.

Chip management is also crucial in poker tournaments since your stack will determine whether you stay in the game or not. The number of chips you have at the start of the game will determine how much leeway you have to make mistakes.

If you’re short on chips, you’ll need to be more cautious in your play. On the other hand, if you have a big stack, you can afford to be more aggressive.

The key is to find the right balance between aggression and conservatism, depending on your chip count. And always be mindful of the tournament’s blind structure. This will dictate how often you need to post blinds, affecting how quickly your chips will dwindle.

3. Be patient.

Poker tournaments last for several hours. Some can even stretch for days. This means you must have the endurance to survive long enough to see the game through to the end.

It’s important to mentally and physically prepare yourself for the grind. Get enough rest and condition your mind so you can focus and control yourself better at the table.

Additionally, remember not to get too caught up in the moment and make rash decisions. Instead, take your time to assess each situation and make calculated moves. If you’re patient and can control your emotions, you’ll be able to make better decisions and, hopefully, come out on top

4. Pace yourself.

One of poker players’ most common mistakes in tournaments is getting too aggressive too soon. Remember that in poker tournaments, the blinds increase at regular intervals. This means you have plenty of time to build your stack before the blinds eat into your chips.

So take your time, and don’t get too anxious to make big moves early. Just focus on making small, consistent gains, and you’ll be in good shape as the tournament progresses.

5. Read your opponents.

In poker, knowledge is power. The more information you have on your opponents, the better your chances of coming out on top.

In poker tournaments, you’ll be up against various players. Some will be tight, and others will be loose. Some will be aggressive, while others will be passive. It’s essential to be able to read your opponents and adjust your strategy accordingly.

If you can do that, you’ll be able to anticipate their moves better and make counter-moves that will put you in a better position to win.

Poker tournaments are a great way to test your skills, improve gameplay, and enhance your poker track record. But before you enter one, make sure you know the rules and have a solid game plan. By following these tips, you’ll be in good shape to take down the competition.

You can test your poker tournament knowledge and skills by joining the World Series of Poker online events. GGPoker can help you with that. The site has a dedicated page for all things WSOP. Sign up for an account today to stay updated on the annual tournament’s news and announcements.

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