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Short introduction to Online Poker tournaments

By Gary Steele

Poker tournaments come in many varieties. You can find just about any game, size, or limit you are looking for in tournaments held around the world. Tournaments pit your poker skills and luck against other players. These tournaments can be one-on-one or have thousands of other participants.

The 2004 World Series of Poker itself took well over a month and consisted of thirty three different tournaments. The tournaments covered over twenty poker variations with buy-ins starting at $1,500 and going up to $10,000. These types of events are held sporadically in cities around the world, so it is unrealistic to travel around the globe to enter them unless you have a good chance of winning.

This is where the Internet has really given the average poker fan, meaning those of us who can’t travel or afford the buy-in of these large tournaments, a chance to play against hundreds of other poker players. Online tournaments start at a $1 buy in and typically go up to around $300. There are even free tournaments given by sites to customers as incentives. I am sure there are more expensive tournaments, but I have never looked for them. An example of a weekly high paying tournament on the Prima Poker network costs $100 to buy-in, with a guaranteed $100,000 payout.

Inexpensive tournaments are a great way to work on your poker skills. All players start out with the same number of chips and play continues until one player has them all. Tournaments typically pay more than one player. It is not uncommon to see a tournament with 100 players pay the top ten places.

Brick and Mortar (B&M) Casino poker can take much longer to play because hands take much longer to deal than online. To combat this, small B&M tournaments increase the blinds and antes much more quickly than your average online tournament. This means you have to be more aggressive playing in these tournaments or the blinds will eat up your stack.

The buy-in for the tournament usually consists of the money that goes to the prize pool and the rake. The rake is the money paid to the casino that runs the tournament for the resources such as dealers and overhead. This is typically a very small amount of the buy-in. In an online tournament with a $10 prize pool buy-in, on average you can expect a $1 rake for the casino.

If you make the final table in the average online tournament with a couple hundred players you can expect to be playing for around 5 hours. This has caused me to stay up late many nights, and curse at my alarm clock on many mornings. Be sure to plan your tournaments around your real-life schedule.

Tournaments are a lot of fun, but you cannot expect to finish in the money every time. If you win money one out of every five tournaments you are playing great. Go out, work on your poker skills, and have a great time playing in them. I will see you there; nothing is more fun than a good tournament.

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