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Poker Tournament Guide: Types, Tips, And Winning Strategies

Poker tournaments are a great way of playing card games.

There are two types of poker game – cash and tournament. While cash games put an exact value on your chips and allow you to leave at any time, tournaments are knockout events where your chips can end up being worth a lot more than you paid for them. 

Below we’ve given you a great overview of the types of poker tournaments you can play, along with tips before you enter, and strategies that will help you win. 

What are the different types of poker tournament I can play?

Whether you’ve put in your time mastering five-card draw, or learning seven-card stud, there will be a tournament out there for you. The different types of poker tournament below cover many (and in some cases) all of the variations of poker.  

Freeroll poker tournament 

We begin with this writer’s favourite poker tournament – the freeroll. It’s exactly what you’d expect it to be, a free to enter knockout tournament. 

These tournaments are often split into two sections, with the first being the free entry period and the second giving you the option to top up your chips. From experience, you are able to rebuy as much as you like during the second period.

Freezeout poker tournament

If you like playing knockout tournaments but want a time limit of sorts placed on them, then a freezeout is perfect. You pay your entry fee, get your chips and play until you’re out – there’s no rebuy period at any stage of the game.

Rebuy poker tournament

If you like a more casual and less pressured tournament environment, playing a rebuy tournament is ideal. It offers all the thrills of a knockout, however, as you’re able to rebuy if you lose your chips, the fear of being knocked out quickly is taken away.

A note of caution, if you’re playing a rebuy poker tournament at home, we recommend that you put limits on it. We wouldn’t necessarily advise limits being placed on the number of rebuys (you could just have rotten luck), but a cut off point is a good idea. 

Multi-buy poker tournament

Are you a poker fan that plays tournaments for no reason other than to win? OK, we all are (to a greater or lesser extent), but if you want to improve your odds of winning then a multi-buy is what you need. Why? Because you get to register a number of stacks, giving yourself an advantage over your opponents from the outset. 

Live satellite poker tournament

If you’re on a budget but want the prestige of playing in a larger poker tournament, look no further than a live satellite. 

Live satellite poker tournaments are qualifying events, and they’re the build-up to a larger competition that has a high entry price. Some of the biggest events on the poker calendar are known for offering live satellites, such as the World Series of Poker Main Event. 

Guaranteed poker tournament 

Fixated on how much you can win before you enter a tournament? Well, you shouldn’t be – playing poker should be about the fun of the game. However, if you do want a precise figure for the winning totals, a guaranteed poker tournament provides this. It pays out a guaranteed amount to the winners, no matter how many people enter.  

Bounty poker tournament 

One of the most exciting types of poker tournament, bounty events are knockouts with a little more spice – you get cash each time you knock a player out, which can be as much as 50% of the buy-in!  

The nature of bounty poker tournaments means that they’re often chaotic, with players frequently going all in and regularly doing so with questionable (at best) hands. However, this is what makes them so much fun! 

Top tips to help prepare you for playing in a poker tournament

Whatever type of poker tournament you decide sounds most appealing, there are a few things you must do before you enter – if you don’t you’ll not only have less fun, but you might end up spending more than you can afford. 

Know the poker game inside out 

It’s pretty straightforward – don’t play a tournament you’re unfamiliar with, because if you do your odds of winning are slashed before you’ve even paid the entrance fee. Get well-versed in the rules of the game, know the different hand combinations, and play the game (either at home, a reputable online casino, or using one of the many great online poker cardrooms) a few times before you enter a tournament. 

Get your bankroll set 

In the same way that it’s crucial to check the available payment methods at the casino you’ve selected for your tournament, it’s essential to set your bankroll before you play. Your bankroll is the amount of money you decide to bet, in other words, it’s how much you’re prepared to lose. Set your limit as low or high as you like, just make sure you don’t exceed it. 

Scope out the venue 

While you may think that checking out the venue before you enter a tournament removes the fun of spontaneity, it’s a sensible tactic. Some casinos are geared more towards pros than casual players, giving them a different atmosphere. There are also other quirks to consider, such as whether there will be a professional dealer or if it will be handled by another player. All in all, scoping out the venue beforehand allows you to establish if it’s right for you. 

Clear your schedule for the following day 

Now, we’re not suggesting you need to go on a mad one and decide that you’re going to play late into the night regardless – not at all. However, bear in mind that if you have ambitions of winning a tournament, there’s a chance you could be playing into the early hours. This is because many casinos will start tournaments at around 19:00 and run until they finish – which could be any time!  

Winning strategies to help you out during a poker tournament

There are a lot of different types of poker (Online Casinos has covered the basic rules of the popular types of poker) so many in fact that we can’t go into the winning strategies for all of them here. As Texas hold’em is by far the most popular type of poker, we’ve given you some short, sharp strategies that will improve your chance of winning a poker tournament. 

Where better to turn to get winning strategies for Texas hold’em poker tournaments than the pros themselves. Miikka Anttonen is a Finnish poker pro who has made $2.4 million in career winnings and claimed a world championship title. He lists seven tips that will help you to run deep in a tournament more often, which we summarise below: 

  1. Steal blinds often, but at the right times

  2. Defend your big blind from steals 

  3. Don’t get carried away if you come up against a 4-bet shove

  4. Be cautious when betting against players with big stacks 

  5. Use continuation bets sensibly – not for all of your hands

  6. Play like a chess player by deciding how to bet in future streets 

  7. Get some experience of playing heads-up before you enter  

Tournament poker is one of the most fun ways to play this diverse and exciting card game. Now that you know the type, tips, and winning strategies, get some practice in and then enter yourself into a poker tournament! 

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