How to choose poker tournaments

Poker tips - How to choose poker tournaments

Poker tournaments are perfect competitive events for those who enjoy playing with (or against) others. While games like slots and lotteries are very much solitary experiences, the game of poker has a built-in element of interaction and tournaments only serve to amplify that advantage.

Just like there are different kinds of slots competitions and challenges, poker tournaments vary significantly in structure. Today we will be looking at different kinds of poker tournaments, how to choose the one that’s right for you and casinos that offer a good variety of options.

Poker casinos

The two industry leaders for a range of poker tournaments are 888 Casino and PokerStars – two brands which we are proud to recommend to JohnSlots readers.

Different types of poker tournaments for different players

Every player is different and so not every single tournament type will suit everyone. All tournaments have a few basic things in common. They all start at a predetermined time and players must pay a buy-in fee. Buy-ins range from pennies all the way up into the thousands of pounds. All players start off with the same number of chips and players who lose all their chips are eliminated.

The tournament will lay out how many finishers will be rewarded – this is typically about 10% of the number of starting players – and they are paid on a descending scale. Everyone else leaves the tournament with nothing.

Poker tips - Different types of poker tournaments for different players

Multi Table Tournaments

MTTs, at they are known, are pretty much the standard type of game in online poker. Like all tournaments, players pay the buy-in and get a set number of chips. Players who lose all their chips are out.

This tournament takes place over multiple tables and as the seats begin emptying when players start to drop out, remaining players are randomly distributed to other tables, until eventually, it’s just one table playing for the final win.

Some tournaments offer a re-buy option, which lets players pay for another stack of chips if they lose all of their initial set within a specific amount of time from the start.

MTTs are hard to win, especially because of the sheer number of opponents you need to beat before even getting close to the final table. The flipside to that is that the wins are quite substantial.

Sit and Go’s

This tournament format was in fact pioneered online and remains a popular choice, particularly with inexperienced players who might be overwhelmed by playing against many opponents.

Most sites offer SNGs around the clock, with a new one starting every few minutes. Once all the seats in a game are filled, the game can start. These are a lot less stressful than multi-table tournaments and are a good way for new players to practice poker.

It’s usually the top three players who are rewarded in a Sit and Go, though this can vary depending on how many tables are in play at the time.

Bounty tournaments

These are essentially Multi-Table Tournaments but a prize is awarded each time a player knocks an opponent out of the game.

Bounty tournaments require a certain strategy in order to be lucrative but some players love the added element of competition these offer.

Turbo tournaments

Online poker is already a fast game but to really turn up the heat, try a Turbo tournament. An MTT or an SNG can be a classed as a Turbo tournament if the blind levels are increased quickly. This means play is much faster and decisions must be taken more quickly.

Turbo tournaments are a good way to cram in more poker so if you are short on time, this is a great way to enjoy plenty of action.

Shootout tournaments

We can think of these as a combination of multi-table and Sit and Gos. The tournament begins with a large field, much like an MTT, but players only play one table at a time until each table has just one winner left.

The winners from each table will play in the next round and so on until it’s a ‘last man standing’ situation. The number of rounds this takes will depend on how many tables were in play at the start.

Satellite tournaments

These tournaments do not pay out in cash but rather in the opportunity to participate in another tournament with an even bigger prize. In a satellite tournament, the prize is essentially the buy-in to another tournament.

Some satellites up the ante, offering the buy-in to a second tournament in addition to another prize like a holiday package or similar.


Poker tournaments might seem like a daunting prospect for new players but some types, like Sit and Go, are the perfect way to gain experience without too much pressure. Veteran players will feel confident enough to venture into competitions like MTTs and satellites once they have honed their skills.