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How do poker tournaments work?

How do poker tournaments work?

How do poker tournaments work?

Fri Jan 20 2023 01:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

There's no better place to showcase your skills in poker than by joining a tournament. These events are held regularly across various establishments, where tremendous prizes are up for grabs to the luckiest gamblers worldwide.

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Guide to online poker tournaments

Online poker tournaments allow players who prefer gambling at home to join and play the beloved game. In this guide, we'll talk about what poker tournaments are and how they work so you can try them out yourself. After all, huge prizes and unmatched excitement await you in these competitions.

What are online poker tournaments?

Online casino poker tournaments consist of multiple competitions of the card mentioned above game where the lucky winner/s wins a predetermined prize pool. Here, players worldwide can test their online poker skills against each other to bag the most coveted prize.

The prime example of a poker tournament is the World Series of Poker or WSOP, which feature the most decorated poker players competing for a prize pool that can reach millions of dollars.

The prize pool is composed of the buy-ins players must pay before they can enter these tournaments. From there, each player will be given a set amount of chips to compete.

Online poker tournaments profit from these events through their rake, a set percentage they take from the total amount of buy-ins. Additionally, some terms and conditions might state that there's only a maximum cap holder of the tournament that can take from the accumulated buy-ins. 

Types of poker tournaments

Several types of tournaments are being held regularly, with each one varying in how they're played. Take a look at some of the most used types of poker tournaments below:

  • Freeroll tournaments: These tournaments don't require players to pay for anything to become eligible contestants. They are held hourly and can take the form of any kind of poker (Texas Hold 'em, Omaha, etc.).
  • Freezeout tournaments: Freezeout is the most common poker tournament where players will be provided with a set amount of chips after paying the buy-in. From there, they can keep competing if they still have some chips left. Once they run out, they'll be eliminated.
  • Multi-buy tournaments: This type allows players to purchase multiple stacks of chips, which is a huge reason why it's beloved by high-rollers. This not only adds challenge to the experience but also increases the number of chips you can play, adding more fun to the mix.
  • Rebuy: The rebuy tournament is similar to freezeout, but this time, players can re-enter the game after running out of chips during the rebuy period. When this period ends, the tournament proceeds like the freezeout, where players who run out of chips are eliminated.
  • Turbo and super turbo: Players seeking a quick burst of excitement with their poker gameplay can try turbo and super turbo tournaments. Here, players get short-stacked much faster as the blinds and ante increase more rapidly. Blinds and ante are two mandatory bets in poker. The players seated at the small and big blinds pay the former, while everyone at the table pays the latter to get the action started.

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How do poker tournaments work

Poker tournaments require participants to pay a buy-in that will eventually be the prize pool for its winners. After buying in, every player is given the same amount of chips that will exclusively be used in the tournament and therefore have no cash value.

From there, the goal of each player is to outlast their opponents and become the winner/s of the prize pool.

Poker tournament rules

In poker tournaments, whether online or live, the players and organisers of the events should abide by the rules. Here are some of the most important things you need to know:


The goal in these tournaments is to last the longest among the contestants, which can be achieved by having the best hand.


Aside from the buy-ins, some event organisers might require participants to pay additional fees to cover the cost of holding the tournament itself.


Poker tournaments can come in different formats, with each one varying slightly in terms and rules. Some of the most popular formats you'll encounter include freeroll, freezeout, multi-buy, rebuy and turbo tournaments.


Each player must be given the same number of chips to start the tournament. For instance, if the buy-in is $500, all players will start with the corresponding number of chips for that amount.

Players who go bust and run out of chips are removed from the tournament. Their ability to re-enter is based on the format of the poker tournament.


As with normal poker, these tournaments will also follow the same table positions, namely:

  • Dealer (button) - The current dealer is also the last to act in the game.
  • Blinds (small blind, big blind) - The two players are seated on the dealer's left side. Both positions must place mandatory bets as small and big blinds.
  • Under the Gun - The player is seated at the left of the blinds. It's named this way because of the pressure put on the player's shoulder since they'll be the ones to act first.
  • Cut off - Seated at the right side of the button; this position is called this way because of its ability to cut off the advantage of the button by raising.
  • Hijack - This position is placed at the right of the cut-off and is named this way because it's common for the player seated here to steal the blinds. 


The ante serves to up the stakes and get the action going. Each player at the table pays this mandatory bet. 


Poker is divided into different levels, depending on the duration of the blinds' value. With each subsequent level, the value of the ante will increase, and in some cases, the blinds will too. 


The final payout is determined after the entry period ends and all the players have paid the buy-in.

Poker tournament payouts

The prize pool in these tournaments is accumulated through buy-ins. These buy-ins are on top of the mandatory bets they must make at the beginning of the round. 

The total amount is allotted to the winner, and a small percentage is given to the event holder.

The payout structure is often 'top heavy', where the top players in the tournament are the ones to take home the prizes.

Here's an example of a payout table used in a tournament:

















































The uppermost row and the leftmost column represent the entrants and the different places where the players can end up in the tournament. This is just an example representation of a poker tournament payout structure, but one constant thing you'll see is that only the top places will get rewarded.

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Most prestigious online casino poker tournaments

Poker tournaments are regularly held in various casinos around the world, both online and brick-and-mortar casinos. These competitions are made of several series of poker games where only the best players will emerge as the victor.

Here are some of the most famous poker tournaments held online and live:

World Series of Poker (WSOP)

The most famous poker tournament held live is the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Here, the prize pool for the lucky winners is worth millions of dollars, which makes sense considering that the buy-ins would sometimes reach 250,000 USD per player.

WSOP has been held for over a year, and it's home to some of the most famous names in the poker scene, such as Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey, Antonio Esfandiari and more.

Triton Super High Roller Series

Photo from: Triton Poker

As you may have guessed from its name, the Triton Super High Roller Series is for players with the biggest bankrolls willing to risk it all to be crowned the champion. Just like the WSOP, the prize pools in these competitions can reach over a million dollars.

Triton Super High Roller Series consists of various competitions throughout the year, and they take place in exotic locations to make things more interesting.

World Championship of Online Poker

The World Championship of Online Poker is one of the best online poker tournaments to play. This series hosts over a hundred events annually, each one featuring amazing prize pools.

However, even though these competitions are all held virtually, you'll still find the same excitement and jaw-dropping prizes in all the physical tournaments. The best part about this is you don't have to leave your home to get a chance to win!

How to play poker online tournaments

Since poker is a popular card game, so you won't have trouble finding online tournaments. You can easily test your skills against other players worldwide without leaving your home.

To help you get started, here's a quick step-by-step on how to play video poker tournaments:

  1. Find a reliable online casino that holds poker tournaments.
  2. Head to their tournaments page and click on a competition you want to join.
  3. Register for the tournament. Most of the time, players are required to go through a process called buying-in where they have to pay a fee that will be included in the total prize pool, which the winner will take home.
  4. From there, start playing poker how you normally would and use different moves that can alter your game's outcome. These are:
  • Call: Calling means you'll match the current bet going around the table to continue playing the game. This is ideal to do if you think your cards aren't junk.
  • RaiseIf you think you have a good set of cards to help you win the round, raise the bet. When you do this, the remaining players on the table will need to raise or call the bet or fold.
  • Additionally, you can use this move to bluff and trick your opponents into thinking you have a good set of cards. This way, they'll be forced to fold, and you don't have to reveal your cards afterwards, so they won't know if you were telling the truth!
  • FoldFolding is simply forfeiting from the current round to prevent further losses to your bankroll. This is done when you're dealing with junk cards or sense that other players have a better hand than you.

It's also important to learn the hand rankings to know whether or not your cards have a chance of letting you win the big prize.

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Where to play online poker tournaments

You can find numerous poker tournaments at different online casinos. These events are held regularly and can provide you with a fun, thrilling and rewarding time from the comfort of your home.

You won't have to look far to join the best and most exciting poker games online, as you'll find them here at Bitcasino. Our various payment methods will accommodate your needs, so you don't have to worry about hassle deposits and withdrawals. 

If you want to gamble on your skills, check our tournaments section regularly to be updated with the latest tournaments. 


How to win online casino tournaments

To win online poker tournaments, you must incorporate a reliable strategy into your game. Lucky for you, we've listed down some helpful tips you can use to become a winner and protect your money at the same time:

  1. Master the art of bluffing

Poker is more than just a game of luck. You also need strategic thinking, timing and skill, and one of the most important abilities you have to master is bluffing.

Bluffing is pretending you're currently holding better cards than what you originally dealt with. The goal is to let your opponents second-guess their decisions when they think you're currently holding a winning hand.

In the same nature, bluffing can also be used when you've been dealt with a great poker hand. As much as possible, you wouldn't want to give away that you're holding a winning hand since this will cause your opponents to fold immediately without accumulating enough bets in the pot.

  1. Know your poker table position

The different table positions in poker can provide you with a set of advantages and disadvantages, which is why it's important to be aware of them at all times. Additionally, you can formulate your strategies based on these positions.

For instance, if you're seated at one of the early positions, you can raise the stake to force the players next to you to make an action after your turn. On the other side of the spectrum, late positions have the advantage of knowing more information about other players' hands based on their actions.

  1. Fold when it’s necessary

Sometimes, you'll be dealt cards that won't be worth the risk. When this happens, don't be afraid to fold since this isn't an act of cowardice but a tactical strategy that prevents you from losing more money than you should.

As a wise poker player, you shouldn't play every hand you've got since not all of them can guarantee a win. When you have junk or cards with no chance of leading you to a win, even when another card is drawn, it's best to forfeit from the current round.

Play online poker tournaments today!

Poker tournaments are a great way to hone your skills and experience the utmost excitement at any online casino. These competitions will help you become a better poker player and expose you to some of the biggest winnings you'll ever witness.

Frequently asked questions about online poker tournaments

How to enter poker tournaments?

Poker tournaments will often require participants to pay a fixed buy-in before joining. From there, you'll be given a fixed number of poker chips strictly used during the tournament.

When to start playing in online poker tournaments?

As much as possible, you'd want to start playing online poker tournaments when you're confident you'll profit from them. Fortunately, you can hone your skills from the comfort of your home by playing various live dealer poker games here at Bitcasino.

As for registrations, you should always sign up as early as possible when you're eyeing a certain tournament. This way, you can already lock in your spot and ensure that you'll get to join.

How do poker tournaments make money?

In poker tournaments, real money is gained through the rake, a set percentage of commission the organiser takes for holding and facilitating the games. 

The rake often consists of tournament fees and a small percentage of the total cash game pot. That's why you'll notice that the total buy-in for the tournament is not equal to the player pool.

How to win online poker tournaments consistently?

There is no one real way to guarantee that you'll win in online poker tournaments consistently. But there are tips you can follow to increase your chances of winning:

  • Know your poker position
  • Don't play every hand you're dealt with
  • Protect your blinds
  • Approach the game aggressively
  • Practice your bluffing skills
  • Fold whenever you need to
  • Stick beyond your bankroll.

How do poker tournaments’ payouts work in casinos?

When someone wins a poker tournament, the rake is automatically taken out of the cash pot before rewarding it to the lucky victor. This percentage may vary depending on the tournament and the establishment, but there is often a maximum cap on the amount they can take.

Poker tournaments often have a payout structure that only rewards the top few places of the tournament. This structure is referred to as 'top heavy', which rewards the excelling players with the largest part of the cash pot.

What is a good Return on Investment in poker tournaments?

Tracking your Return on Investment (ROI) is a great way to monitor your profits' progress. An ROI of more than 0% is good, but of course, this would require you to play several games to increase this percentage significantly.

How to get better in online poker tournaments?

Quite frankly, there's no other way to get better at online poker than to practice regularly. Even though luck plays a huge role in determining the winner, you can still develop some skills that can help you win more while protecting your bankroll at the same time.

You should also consider trying various poker variations, not just Texas Hold 'em. Fortunately, you can hone your skills through Bitcasino's collection of exciting online poker titles here at the site.

How long do poker tournaments last?

The duration of these competitions may vary depending on the tournament itself. Some last a couple of hours, often around 5 to 7 hours, while others span multiple days. Let's take the WSOP, for example. This tournament is a three-day event.

What are the most profitable online poker tournaments?

Most of the time, the best poker tournaments online that can grant huge profits are the most famous ones, such as the World Championship of Online Poker, The Big Game, GG Masters Series and more.

Words by: Jericho Paradeza

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