Unpacking Online Poker Tournament Formats

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Online poker tournament formats are to be kept in mind by all those who wish to narrow down on the tournaments that fit them and the ones they find to have the most comfortable rules. Back in the day, you would have to travel many miles at times in order to participate in a poker tournament. If it works - great, and if it doesn’t you will end up wasting time, money and effort. 

However, with the introduction of online poker in the modern-day, players can now be wherever they want to be, at whatever time and still be able to play from a wide range of poker tournaments across the world for real money. However, in order to rightfully pick and choose which ones work for you based on your schedule and preferences, you will have to know about these different poker tournament structures, and that is what we will be covering here today.

Poker Tournament Structures Based on Different Formats

At large, poker tournaments can be categorized as cash table games and tournaments. Cash tables are more straightforward with a minimum buy-in rate, small and big blinds or straddles. The rake amount and time call are both determined beforehand and are made known to the players at the time of registration. This structure of cash table poker games is different from the way poker tournaments are carried out.

The selling point of poker tournaments is the large cash prizes they offer for a comparatively smaller investment. This big-win agenda of theirs makes poker tournaments extremely popular amongst poker players from around the world. In order to further capitalize on this, poker platforms present several tournament types to choose from. Today, we will briefly discuss some of the most popular poker tournament formats and understand their structures briefly.

Single Table Tournaments

This is the more traditional form of poker tournaments where all participants are seated at one single table at a time until a winner is crowned.  

Sit and Go Tournaments (SNG)

Sit and Go Tournaments are a fast-paced form of poker where there are no fixed starting times. When the required number of players necessary have joined the game, the tournament begins. SNGs are convenient for players wanting to play the game on a move as they are much shorter in nature. They are usually played as single table tournaments, but there are some multi-table ones as well.

Multi-table Tournaments

In multi-table tournaments, many players compete for one common prize pool while playing from different tables. As and when players get eliminated, the tables start to dismantle leaving the remainder of the players to move to the final table where one single player who outplays the rest is crowned the winner. Multi-table tournaments are the most popular kind of poker tournaments, and they further have different game types as mentioned below. 

Guaranteed Tournaments

‘Guaranteed tournaments’ is a vague term used in poker tournaments and it does not specify to any individual tournament. What it basically means, is that the poker room guarantees a winning prize pool regardless of the number of players who turn up. The minimum number of players specified by the poker room needs to be present in order for the tournament to begin without which it stands cancelled. However, this criterion is not as troublesome as the number required is generally quite low.

Turbo Tournaments

As the name slightly gives it away, in turbo tournaments the blinds increase at a much faster rate than normal tournaments. As a player, you must adjust your playing style to this rapidly increasing blind and ante rate that you might not be used to otherwise.

Re-buy Tournaments

In re-buy poker tournaments, you have the option to re-buy as many times as you wish if you fall short in your stack or lose it entirely. In addition to this, you are also given an option to add-on chips to your stack after which you aren’t presented with any such opportunities.

Limited Re-buy

The name does justice as limited re-buy tournaments operate very similarly to regular re-buy tournaments. The difference here is that there is a specific limit as to the number of re-buys you can undertake and for how long. The limit to re-buy is generally between 1-2 times.

Satellite Tournaments

Satellite poker tournaments work more as promotional tools for the poker room. That is because the prize offered in such tournaments is usually tickets to poker tournaments of higher value. Therefore, the prize pool here is made up of an opportunity to play at a bigger tournament rather than a cash prize. That being said, cash prizes could, however, be offered to players who do not win seats to the promoted event, but the value won’t be much. The idea here is to attract new players to play for the marquee events organized by the poker room. The buy-ins are generally very low for such tournaments as publicity is the key agenda. 

Super Satellite Tournaments

These poker tournaments act as another doorway to tournaments of higher value. The buy-ins are low, and poker players compete against each other to secure their spot in a satellite that offers a big-money tournament. This tournament acts properly for those with a smaller bankroll. 

Shootout Tournaments

A shootout poker tournament offers an interesting twist to the usual multi-table tournament concept. Here, players compete against each other at individual tables to get one winner. The winner then goes to the next table where they compete against other such table winners. This ultimately ends with one clear winner.

Poker Tournament Payouts

Payouts in poker tournaments are done either using the conservative method, or the top-heavy method. In the conservative method, most players are given some payout, whereas, in the top-heavy method, only the high-ranking players get the prize. The amount distributed is much higher in the second option, which is why most players prefer this method of payout. Let's take a look at both these poker payout methods.

  • Conservative

A conservative payout method is also known as the flatter payout method, and here the payout amount is within the range of 20-25% of the players involved. Typically, the first few players finishing in the money will be receiving their buy-in amount back. Those who finish higher are the ones who get a profit, and the winner receives only about 20% of the total value.

  • Top Heavy

In a top-heavy payout structure, only the top 10% of the players are awarded. The ultimate winner of the tournament is awarded a massive 30-50% of the prize pool, and the rest of the payouts are distributed declining from the positions below.

As a new poker player, you need the right platform to play the game, and Spartan Poker offers a number of tournament options with games like Omaha, Texas Hold’em and many more. Signing up is simple, and downloading our app keeps you up to date with all the latest games, offers and exclusive deals. So, join Spartan Poker and get started with poker tournaments right away.


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