All You Need To Know About Poker Tournaments

Want to play poker hands but don’t know where to start? Simply playing poker by the means of tournaments can be easy, fun and engaging.

There is a fixed amount of entry fee which every player has to give before entering the tournament. Once you buy the tournament ticket, you are all set to win big. This post will help you understand all about poker tournaments and their types.

Tournaments begin with each player getting a specific amount of chips to play. The rules are simple – if you lose all your chips, you will not be able to continue playing. The player who survives till the end of the game becomes the winner and gets the largest share of the prize pool. The good news is that as per your finishing position if you are one of the top players, you will also get a portion of the total pot.

Before we dive into the understanding of the types of tournaments, here is a glimpse of a few important concepts.

Buy-In & Guarantee:

You need to pay a specific amount to the host in order to enter and play the game. This process of entering the tournament by paying an entry fee is known as ‘buy-in’.

Additionally, when you are playing a tournament, there is a guaranteed prize, which means that there is a guaranteed amount of prize pool. Guarantees help in bringing in more players to join the table.

This can be understood by an example – a tournament is organized with offers a guaranteed prize pool of 20 Lac and buy-in is Rs. 750.

Late Registration:

The tournament has started and you have not registered yet. Fret not! You can opt for late registration. There is a certain time limit during which one can enter the tournament. For example, if the late registration period is 1 hour, you can enter the tournament within that time frame. Once this period is over, you cannot enter the tournament.


As the tournament progresses, the blinds steadily raise and antes are also added eventually. Ante is the compulsory bet which each player has to place in the pot. All the buy-ins collected from the participants are used to form the total prize pool of the tournament.


You need to manage your bankroll more carefully than cash games when you play tournaments. Your bankroll should be around 40 to 50 buy-ins for offline and 100 buy-ins for online tournaments. For example – To play an SNG tournament with the buy-in of 20+1, your bankroll should be around INR 840.


Are you losing your chips? Don’t worry! You can choose to re-buy them. This feature allows you to buy-back chips when your chip stack goes below a threshold. The cost and other factors related to re-buys may vary according to the tournaments.

However, you can opt for this feature only for a limited period, and that too at the beginning of the tournament. Moreover, you can re-buy the chips only up to the original level of your chip stack. This means that if you start playing with 10000 chips and lose all of them gradually, you can only re-buy the chips up to 10,000. You cannot enter the tournament once this rebuy period is over.

On The Bubble

This happens when the next player eliminated does not get any portion of the prize pool and the remaining players get it. Suppose, the XYZ tournament pays top 5 players and currently, there are 6 players in the game, this point is known as ‘on the bubble’. The player who gets eliminated next (‘bubbled’) does not get any part of the prize pool.

In the Money (ITM)

This refers to the time in the tournament which ensures that every remaining player will get a part of the prize money. The money will be divided on the basis of their position in the tournament.

Types of Tournaments

Whether you are playing online or offline, there are various types of tournaments. Check out the distinctive features of the multiple types of tournaments and find the one that is best suited for you based on the level of your skills, knowledge and affordability.

  1. Sit-N-Go (Sit-N-Go) Tournament – This is a single table tournament which begins as soon as enough people register for it. As there is no specific starting time, players can participate in an SNG tournament anytime they want. As the tournament progresses, the blinds increase rapidly to ensure finishing the tournament in a specific time frame.
  2. Turbo Tournament – Turbo tournaments are the one with the faster than usual blind structure. Throughout the game, the antes and blind levels increase rapidly (e.g.- in every 5 minutes).
  3. MTT (Multi-table Tournament) – The tournament which begins at a scheduled time on multiple tables at once is called a multi-table tournament. As the number of participants is higher in MTTs than SNG tournaments, they are distributed across as many tables as required. When the tournament progresses and the players start getting busted, the tables are merged to keep all the tables evenly balanced. This re-arrangement continues until the total number of tables is narrowed down to one. At the final table, the remaining participants compete against each other to reach the top spot. The player who wins all the chips in play becomes the winner and takes the largest portion of the prize pool. The other In The Money players receive prizes based on their finishing position.
  4. Freeze-out Tournament – A freeze-out tournament is where you cannot re-buy to continue playing once you run out of chips. You have to leave the table when you lose your entire chip stack.
  5. Rebuy Tournament – The most popular variation of poker tournaments where players can rebuy when they run out of chips. Rebuy is allowed for a specific amount of time and once the rebuy period ends, the tournament runs as a Freeze-out tournament.
  6. Satellites – The tournaments which award the winner entry tickets to a bigger poker games tournament with hefty Buy-ins & huge Guarantees.
  7. Step-Satellites – Tournament where you can win tickets to the satellites.
  8. Bounty Tournament – The tournaments where you earn extra prizes other than the prize pool by knocking out your opponents. For example – If there is INR 1000 bounty on every player, you will get INR 1000 every time you knock-out an opponent.
  9. GTD Tournament – The tournament where the prize pool is guaranteed regardless of how many players participate.
  10. Shootouts Tournament – Unlike other formats where tables need to be rearranged during the course of play when players get eliminated, in a Shootout tournament the play continues at each table until there is only one player remaining. Winner of every table waits until the game ends on other tables, and then all winners take a seat on a new table to play the next round against each other. The popular versions of this format are Double-Shootout and Triple-Shootout where the player needs to win two and three tables respectively.
  11. Freeroll Tournament – Tournaments where you can enter and play without investing real money. Novice players can play the game for free to improve their poker skills and win various types to rewards e.g. real money, bonus points, tournament tickets, etc.

Irrespective of the format, the rules to play the game will always remain the same. Playing games to win prizes has never been easier than now!


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