Online poker tournaments are incredibly popular. They are fun, thrilling, and give players a shot at often hefty prize pools. In this article, we’ll take a look at the real money poker tournaments offered by some of the popular online poker sites. This should help you make a decision on which online poker sites you should consider.
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Best Online Poker Tournaments
When it comes to online poker, the size of a website matters. Poker operators with a lot of traffic are able to organize larger tournaments. This directly translates to bigger prize pools, which, in turn, attracts even more players.
But prize pools aren’t the only thing that decides whether a tournament is popular. Some game formats naturally attract more players than others. And there are a lot of different types of online poker tournaments.
Below we have selected four popular US poker providers and we’ll go through each one’s offer of tournaments.
WSOP.com is one of the most popular online poker sites in the US. As it shares its player pool across three states (Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware) it also boasts the highest traffic. WSOP.com is run by Caesars Interactive Entertainment, while the software is provided through the partnership with 888poker.
The games you will find at WSOP.com include Limit and No-Limit Texas Hold’em, 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo, Pot-limit Omaha Hi-Lo, Limit Omaha Hi-Lo, and Pot-Limit Omaha. However, and you probably notice the pattern, most of the active games you will find are No-Limit Texas Hold’em.
The most popular online poker tournaments on the platform include the WSOP Gold Bracelet events. However, the website also has a packed Sunday tournament schedule, with a weekly, $320 buy-in tournament with $100,000 guaranteed.
WSOP.com also hosts a year-long Player of the Year contest. Apart from the bragging rights, the player who collects the most Player of the Year points, by competing in online poker tournaments, also bags a $10,000 prize and an exclusive Player of the Year ring.
Finally, Blast Poker is WSOP.com’s take on jackpot Sit & Gos. It’s a four-handed, super turbo Sit & Go tournament, where the prize money can reach up to 10,000x the buy-in. What’s specific to Blast Poker is the countdown timer. Once it reaches zero, all the players are forced to go all-in until there is a winner.
Pala Poker Tournaments
A relative newcomer among the US online poker sites, Pala Poker seems to be focusing its attention primarily on Texas Hold’em tournaments. Most of the ones you will find in the lobby are Sit & Gos, No Limit, and low-stakes cash games.
Since Pala Poker isn’t connected to any other poker network, its player pool still isn’t up to par with other, bigger providers. As the operator grows, hopefully, we should be seeing a more varied offering of tournaments.
Party Poker Tournaments
Party Poker, on the other hand, is an industry veteran, offering a much greater variety of real money poker tournaments. Although Texas Hold’em tourneys are by far the most popular, Party Poker offers a number of other options.
There are daily specials with varying buy-ins and prize pools as well as its annual World Poker Tour with $30M in guaranteed prize money. The WPT runs in May with 40 different events which include both high-stakes and “mini” tournaments. Buy-ins range from $55 up to $25,500.
In terms of game variety, here is a slice of what you can expect at Party Poker:
- Pot Limit Texas Hold’em
- No-Limit Texas Hold’em
- Pot-Limit Omaha
- Pot-Limit Omaha HI-Lo
- 7 Card Stud
- 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo
BetMGM shares its player pool with Party Poker and Borgata Poker. This means that the operators largely share their tournament offering and, in turn, have decent traffic. As usual, most of the online poker tournaments run Texas Hold’em with micro and mid stakes.
As we’ve already mentioned with Party Poker, you will also see Pot Limit Omaha and Pot Limit Hi-Lo tournaments. 7 Card Stud, 7 Card Hi-Lo, and Fixed Limit Hold’em usually run only at peak traffic hours.
BetMGM hosts its biggest tournaments on Sundays, with a weekly $35,000 guarantee event. Another popular weekly event is the $535 Mega Tuesday Six-Max. Players start with a 75,000 chip stack and the tournament comes with $12,000 guaranteed. There are also daily $109 Texas Hold’em tournaments, with a prize pool of $10,000 guaranteed.
How do Online Poker Tournaments work?
Online poker tournaments are events organized by online poker sites. Players who enter get to compete for a prize pool, by playing against one another in a predetermined format. In order to enter, players need to pay a buy-in. Buy-in amounts differ significantly between different tournaments and are usually in direct correlation with prize pools.
The number of players that get paid is, again, determined by the tournament format. While some online poker tournaments are last-man-standing, others, like SNGs, pay out a portion of participating players.
What are the different types of Online Poker Tournaments?
Now that we’ve covered the basic idea of what online poker tournaments are, we’ll go through some of the basic types.
Sit & Go
One of the most common forms of online poker tournaments. Typically, they are played with 9-10 players, although the number can get much higher. To enter the tournament, players pay a fixed buy-in. The tournament starts once all the spots are filled. Players who run out of chips are knocked out of the tournament, while the last 2, 3 or more players win a portion of the prize pool.
Unlike Sit & Gos, multi-table tournaments start at a fixed, scheduled time. They can host anywhere from a couple of dozen, up to thousands of players. Players are divided across multiple tables. As the tournament progresses, players are eliminated based on their score. Ultimately, players with the highest number of chips are moved to play a single table. In the end, the player with the highest number of chips wins the tournament.
It’s easiest to think of satellite tournaments as qualifying tournaments. They are usually organized before major events such as the World Series of Poker. Comparatively, buy-ins for satellite tournaments are only a fraction of the cost (5-10%) of the buy-in for the main event. This allows skilled players to qualify for major tournaments with minimal investment.
In rebuy tournaments, players are allowed to by additional chips once they run out. Of course, there is a limit to how many rebuys are allowed, and players can only do it within a set time frame. On the other hand, since more money gets injected into the pot, payouts can get massive.
Freeroll tournaments are perfect for new players. They allow players to enter without paying for a buy-in. However, this doesn’t mean that freerolls come without prizes. Some casinos offer money, while others pay in bonuses, free spins on slots, etc.
In bounty tournaments, players can collect an instant cash prize if they eliminate another player. The bounty is paid out in addition to the regular prize money.
Heads up Tournaments
This is a unique tournament format where players play against one another head-to-head. While this is a necessary phase at the end of most tournament types, there are also tournaments that are played exclusively as heads up.
How to choose an Online Poker Tournament
Choosing a tournament type comes down to your personal preference. It is, generally, a good idea to start off slow. So, start off with smaller, beginner-friendly freeroll or low buy-in tournaments, and slowly build up your skill level.
If you are aiming for larger tournaments, our advice is to start with satellites. Although it might not seem so, the competition isn’t necessarily much greater in high buy-in tournaments than the low-stakes ones. Most of the time, it comes down to who can afford the buy-in.
In terms of games, play the variations and games you are confident with. Pay attention to blinds and make sure you are comfortable with the speed at which they increase. Other than that – practice. Poker is, after all, a game of skill, and getting good at a skill takes time and effort. Read our guide on how to play poker online.