Online Poker Tournament Types

One of the best things about online poker is the various tournament formats available to players. In addition to large multi-table tournaments, most online poker rooms run sit & go, shootout, turbo, satellite, and double or nothing tournaments. Each of these tournament types carries their own purpose and it’s important for players to investigate each tournament format before buying-in. Let’s take a close look at the most popular types of online poker tournaments:

Sit & Go Poker Tournaments

A Sit & Go tournament does not have a pre-determined start time. This is an extremely popular tournament format for online poker rooms as it allows tournaments to start play as soon as enough seats have been filled. A typical Sit & Go (SNG) might be a single table of 9 or 10 players. However, they also range from heads-up to 360 players playing across multi-tables. Survival is often the key characteristic that should be considered. Players who are fine with surviving a battle of attrition will often be rewarded as other players lose out by getting caught up with duels amongst others too early.

Double or Nothing Poker Tournaments

‘Double or Nothing’ is variant of the Sit & Go format but with a very different payout structure. Double or Nothing tournaments usually feature a 10 player table where the top five players will win double their buy-in amount and the bottom five players receive nothing. This means that there is no particular need for players to build a large chip count because the tournament winner receives the same prize amount as fifth place. Similar survival characteristics of an ordinary Sit & Go tournament apply, but the action really gets exciting in the middle and late stages of a tournament when most players will choose to play a tight and reserved style.

Multi-Table Poker Tournaments

While a Sit & Go tournament can span multiple tables, the classic multi-table tournament starts at a scheduled time and doesn’t require a fixed number of players to begin. The typical multi-table tournament (MTT) holds a relatively straightforward elimination approach, where tables are balanced as players are knocked out. The end result is to get to the final table and be the player who holds all the chips. This is the most common format used by high profile tournaments, where every player who is participating starts with the same amount of chips. MTT can attract a huge number of players, and therefore offer highly lucrative prize pools.

Shootout Poker Tournaments

A format often favoured by brick and mortar poker venues; the shootout poker tournament is a type of multi-table tournament. In a typical tournament format, tables are balanced as players are eliminated. However, in a shootout players are not moved table and play the game like a single table tournament. The winner of each table then advances to the final round. This occasionally is modified to allow more seats for the final round, for instance a tournament may offer 3 seats for the final round in each table. Depending on how many final round seats are offered by each table, a player’s strategy may vary from being very aggressive in order to win that solitary advancement seat to a more conservative approach for tournaments that offer three final round seats per table.

Satellite Poker Tournaments

Ever wonder how some players are able to find their way into a high value poker tournament? A satellite tournament offers a seat to a larger poker tournament as the prize. A satellite tournament usually offers a buy-in that is 5% – 10% of the main event tournaments buy in, so for a premier tournament that requires a $200 buy-in, the satellite tournament buy-in will usually be $10 or $20. You’ll also find super-satellite tournaments with even lower buy-ins – giving you the opportunity to win a seat into a higher value satellite tournament.

Re-buy Poker Tournaments

A re-buy tournament allows you to buy-in again within a predetermined time (such as an hour), should you lose all your chips. This tournament format changes requires a different strategy to regular tournament play. Players will be playing much looser during the re-buy period, simply because they are not worried about busting out, since they can re-buy. Obviously once the re-buy period is over the online poker tournament becomes a regular freezeout event. Re-buy tournaments are probably best avoided if you’re a beginner.

Turbo Poker Tournaments

A turbo tournament is another sub-format, and like its name indicates, it’s a more exciting style of game play where matches are often condensed and completed in a shorter length of time. This is accomplished by the format’s blind structure, which increases quickly, and can end up at double or triple the amount you’d normally find in ordinary tournaments. For example, a normal online poker tournament might increase the blinds every 10 minutes, but a typical turbo game might increase the blinds every 5 minutes. Because the blinds rise so quickly, this is best suited for players who prefer a faster paced game where one must be aggressive instead of conservatively grinding along in a normal elimination poker tournament.

Selecting a Tournament

Finding an appropriate tournament usually comes down to the player’s preference. Those who objectively rate their skill at a rather proficient level may enjoy entering satellite tournaments, grinding through and ultimately getting a shot at a bigger prize pool main event tournament. Similarly, players will vary in preference when it comes to winning formats, where some like the spread Double or Nothing payout structure, others are rather enticed by the fast paced nature of turbo Sit & Go games.