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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Poker Tournaments

New to the felt? Then get your head around one of the fundamental formats with these poker tournaments FAQs.

We’re going to take you through the nitty-gritty of everything you need to know, including how tournaments work, a rough guide to buy-ins and tournament types too. And, of course, where you can find poker tournaments.

So let’s get cracking!

Poker tournaments FAQs: the basics

What is a poker tournament?

A poker tournament is a game where you pay a set amount to enter and play continues until one person is declared the winner. This is different to a cash game, where you can enter and leave at any time.

What is a poker tournament buy-in?

A buy-in is the fee you pay to enter a tournament. In exchange for your buy-in, you are given chips.

Do chips represent real money amounts in tournaments?

The simple answer to this is no. That is because you can’t decide mid-way through a tournament to exchange your chips for cash, like in a cash game. However, the aim of the game is always to end up with all of the chips at the end of the game. If you do, you’re the winner and you win the majority of the prize pool.

What is a tournament prize pool made up of?

A tournament prize pool is simple every players buy-ins added together.

What is a tournament fee?

This is a percentage of the buy-in that covers the costs of the card room, plus of course includes the profits they make from the game. At bet365, the tournament fee is usually 10% of the buy-in. So, for example, in a £20 tournament, there will be a £2 fee. That’s expressed as £20 + £2. In total, this tournament costs you £22 to enter.

What’s the difference between a regular tournament and a sit & go?

In a regular tournament, play starts at a pre-designated time. However, sit & gos can run any time at all. All they need to start is minimum number of players. Players can continue to join until the maximum number is reached or a winner is determined and the tournament ends.

Types of tournaments

There are many different types of tournaments you can play and we’re going to cover them in our poker tournament FAQs. If you’re playing at a decent online poker room, you can choose from lots of different game types too, including popular ones like Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Six Plus Hold’em.

Once you pick your game type, you can choose your format. Here are just some of the ones you can look out for.

No limit and pot limit tournaments

These tournaments are all about the amount you can bet in one go. At a no limit tournament, there’s no maximum bet, so you can go nuts. Meanwhile at a pot limit tournament, you’re maximum bet is restricted to the value of the pot during any given hand.

Generally speaking, no limit tournmanets tend to be Texas Hold’em, while pot limits are most commonly Omaha.


These tournaments are free to enter and usually still have a cash prize! Sometimes you can gain entry if you’re in a particular tier of a loyalty scheme and sometimes they’re just available to whoever wants to play.

Satellite tournaments

In poker tournament FAQs, people often ask about Satellites. These are tournaments where the prize isn’t cash, it’s entry to another bigger tournament. Buy-ins for satellites are usually a fraction of the cost of the entry to the target tournament, so it can be a cost effective way to enter.

Guaranteed tournaments

When a tournament is guaranteed, it means that the poker room is going to ensure that the prize pool is at a minimum level, regardless of the number of players who buy-in.

Rebuy tournament

In a rebuy tournament, you can usually buy in again if you get knocked out or boost your chips with an extra add-on, up to a certain blind level. These extra buy-ins and add-ons are added to the total prize pool for the tournament.

Progressive Knock Out

We actually adore a knock out tournament and progressive knock outs are even more fun. In a regular knock out tournament, every player has a bounty on their head, which is typically a cash value. If you knock out a player, you collect their bounty. Then regardless of the outcome of the tournament, you keep that bounty amount.

However, in a progressive knockout, you only are guaranteed to keep half that bounty amount. Meanwhile, the other half is added to the bounty on your head. So that means the more players that you knock out, the bigger your bounty and the more likely other players will come after you.

In short, it’s a whole lot of fun.

Flighted tournaments

In poker, flighted tournaments are when a tournament has multiple day ones. Then the top players from each Day 1 go on to compete against each other in Day 2. You take all the chips you earned with you from Day 1 to Day 2.

Twister sit & gos

At bet365, there are several different types of Twister sit & go. This is a really fun type of tournament, where your prize pool is randomly determined and can reach up to 1,000x your buy-in. You can also find Age of the Gods Twister Tournaments, which gives you a shot at a progressive jackpot win, and Wild Twister where you go all in on every hand.

Where an I play poker tournaments?

There are lots of different options open to you when it comes to playing tournaments. You could play in amazing casinos all over the world on a poker holiday, you could make it happen at home with a DIY poker night or you could test the waters online.

One of our favourite online poker rooms at the moment is bet365. It’s got a great range of buy-in levels, plus brilliant promotions, Loyalty Club and special offers. Including this great bet365 bonus code for new players.

Tournament strategy

We could talk about poker tournament FAQs strategy until the cows come home. In fact, in many cases, we already have. You might be interested in these articles to brush up on strategy, whether you’re a newbie or looking for something more advanced:


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