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Poker Tournaments: The How and Why

If you’re looking to find an affordable way of getting in a lot of poker action in a casino with opponents of various skill levels, poker tournaments just might be what you’re looking for. Poker tournaments allow you to get some great face to face poker experience for a limited amount of money.

If you’re just starting out, and not very skilled at poker, you can find some great opportunities for around $20. But not to worry, there’s some high risk, high paying tournaments out there too, if you’re at that skill level or plan to be someday. In fact, you can spend $20 right up to $25,000 to get into the biggest tournament (the World Series).

The number of people in a tournament can range quite a bit as well, from 10 players to over 500 for some of the more common tournaments, to thousands of players in some tournaments. Most of these tournaments are not winner take all. The prize is generally split between the top three finishers, but some larger tournaments may give prizes to over 20 people.

If you’re really looking to learn the ropes without spending the money, there are actually tournaments out there that have no entry fee at all. They are known as “freeroll” tournaments, and are put on by the casinos to draw people to their card room where it is hoped they will come back.

Playing the Game

Tournaments begin with players getting a certain amount of tournament chips. The betting limits start relatively low, but every so often (20 or 30 minutes perhaps), the betting limits go up. To win the tournament, you’ll need to win more and more chips. However, if you are a beginner, you can still play for a few hours if you don’t take too many risks.

If you do end up running out of chips, this may not be the end for you at some tournaments, if you are willing to pay. At some poker tournaments, you can “rebuy” your chips. This allows you to restock your chips when you get below a certain amount of chips. This rebuy period usually lasts only an hour, however, so after this you’re on your own.

Basic Poker Tournament Strategy

Most of the time when you are playing against low-limit opponents, you won’t do too bad if you remember one thing: bet the goods when you get the goods. This doesn’t mean to jump right in and bet half of your chips, as this will give you away. The trick is to not scare your opponents away right off the bat when you have a good hand, but try to coax them to the end and then increase your bet gradually. They are more likely to go all the way when they get to the end of the hand, since they’ve already put so much in (likewise, try to imagine that your opponents may do the same thing to you). You won’t want to stick to the same predictable strategy, however.

One thing that necessitates a different strategy at tournaments is the rebuy period. Poker tournaments that offer rebuy periods will encourage loose, wild play in that first hour, as players will not be as worried about being eliminated. During the rebuy period, then, it is best not to bluff as much. You may also be encouraged to play a little on the wild side during this period, but if you remain tight you will have an advantage over the players who played loosely during that period. If you lose your chips a couple of times and then rebuy them, the amount of money you are spending just might not be worth it anymore and you might consider calling it quits.

Many rebuy tournaments also offer what is known as an add-on at the end of the rebuy time. At this time, all players are allowed to purchase more chips, regardless of how many they already have. It is always a good idea to take advantage of this if you are looking to stay in the tournament as long as possible and haven’t already spent too much on rebuys. As betting limits are going up constantly, you’ll want to have as many chips as you can get. Remember to be careful not to spend too much though. Always stay within your means and don’t get carried away. Again, if you’ve already had to rebuy your chips a couple of times, you might consider passing up the add-on chips.

Once the rebuy period ends, the strategy of the poker tournament will change entirely. Everyone will become much more cautious with their chips, so you may be able to get the occasional bluff in if you strategize well. Never get too bold, however, because your opponents will catch on quickly.

During the mid-point of the tournament, you will have to be very cautious about getting too deep into a hand that could cost you all or most of your chips. Only bluff against the weaker players with the smaller stacks, and avoid going up against strong players with larger stacks. It is a good idea to put yours and your opponents’ stacks into three categories: small, medium and large.

If you have a small stack, it is a good idea to avoid confrontations with large stacks. Since their chips are less valuable to them, they have an advantage over you. If you have a medium stack, it’s alright to pick on the smaller stacks a little, but don’t get tied up in a battle with a big stack. You should play only the best hands unless a good opportunity comes up. Otherwise, wait for the good hands to make a move. With a large stack, you will get to pick on the smaller stacks a lot (don’t overdo it). Those with a small or medium stack will tend to be a bit wary of you for fear of elimination. This means you can be more aggressive and try to bust those with smaller stacks out. Just don’t get into confrontations with other larger stack players, as there will be time for this later.

If you get to the final rounds of a poker tournament, the only thing that will help you then is simply to play good poker. This, of course, takes experience, but for more information continue exploring our site. Check out our Poker Odds section and our Poker Odds Calculator section and get some good tips from our Poker Tips section.

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