Tournaments Game Guide

Poker Tournament Overview

Poker Tournament Overview Understanding Poker Tournaments

There are many types of poker tournaments that offer different games and different betting formats.

A Brief History of Poker Tournaments

Poker tournaments have greatly increased in popularity over the past few decades. The first major poker tournament was the World Series of Poker that was started in 1970. They had a total of seven contestants and the event was won by Johnny Moss by player voting. Today, the WSOP awards millions of dollars in prizes to the winner of the main event, along with many other money prizes to other players. Poker tournaments have now become very popular online, as the popularity of online gaming increases.

Types of Poker Tournaments

There are a number of different types of poker tournaments that are available. These include:

Sit and Go Tournaments

Sit and Go tournaments are also known as SNG tournaments or single table no limit tournaments. The table has a certain number of seats and when the seats are full, the tournament begins hence the phrase "sit and go." SNG tournaments are very popular and are played in land-based, as well as online tournaments. SNG tournaments are often played as satellites for multi table tournaments.

Multi Table No Limit Tournaments

Multi table no limit tournaments are the type seen in the WSOP. They are difficult to win, partly due to the large numbers of players who participate.

Multi Table Limit Tournaments

Multi table limit tournaments are tournaments where many tables are played at one time. They tend to have many participants and the prize money varies depending on the number of participants and the qualification process.

Betting Format for Poker Tournaments

Betting in poker tournaments can take various formats structured, semi-structured or unstructured. The game that is played will vary greatly depending on the betting format that is followed. No limit games tend to be far more aggressive and the players tend to make use of bluffing far more than in fixed limit games.


Structured bets are more commonly known as fixed limit. In these, bets and raises are limited to specific amounts which generally increase as the tournament progresses.


Semi-structured betting generally provides a range for raises. This may be more than the previous player's raise or more than the size of the current pot, as with pot limit games. Spread limit is another type of semi-structured betting format in which bets and raises must fall within a minimum and maximum amount.


Unstructured betting is commonly referred to as no limit. In this format, players are able to bet any amount they choose.

Types of Games in Poker Tournaments

There are many different variations of poker that are played today and it is possible to find poker tournaments for many of these variations. The most commonly offered and most popular tournaments are Texas Hold'em, followed by Omaha. Both of these types of tournaments are generally offered in no limit, fixed limit or pot limit betting formats. Other poker tournaments that offer single games commonly include seven card stud or seven card hi/lo. It is also possible, though less common, to find mixed poker tournament games, such as H.O.R.S.E which combines Hold'em, Omaha, razz, stud and stud eight.

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