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Texas Hold'em Tournaments

Poker tournaments mostly use a NL (No Limit) Texas Holdem format, but different poker variants and betting structures are also used for tourneys. FL (fixed limit) or PL (pot limit) betting structures are not that common, especially not in MTTs (Multi Table Tournaments). Playing in tournaments presents several advantages over regular cash games. If you look at the player traffic on any online poker site, you’ll notice that there are at least ten times as many people playing in tournaments than at cash tables. There are several reasons for that. For one, most online poker sites feature freerolls. These are multi-table tournaments (there are hundreds, possible thousands of players in these tourneys, distributed over several virtual tables) which require no buy-in or tournament fee to access. The fact that they’re free acts like a magnet, drawing incredible numbers of poker players. In a tournament there are always more people than any cash game could ever accommodate. Even the MTTs where buy-ins are required, are extremely popular because of the increased odds these games offer players in comparison with cash games. Why do tournaments offer better odds for players? First, it’s a matter of rake. In a cash game, players will pay rake on every single hand that they play, according to the size of the pot. The rake hangs on like a bad habit, there is no escaping it. In a tournament, a player only plays a one time fee, other than that, no matter how many hands he needs to play in the tourney, he doesn’t pay a single cent of rake. In cash games, sitting down to a table properly bankrolled is extremely important. Some people however, simply cannot afford to post the maximum amount of buy-in required, so they’ll be at the mercy of better bankrolled opponents from the start. In a tournament, everyone gets an equal number of chips to start with. Even though in the latter stages of a MTT, some players will be much better stacked than others, the short-stacked guys will only have themselves to blame for the situation. Tournament chips do not represent real money, the only real money in a tournament comes from the prize-pool for those who manage to finish in the money (ITM). The higher up is in the finishing order, the bigger percentage of the prize-pool he’ll end up pocketing. One doesn’t have to actually win the MTT to take home money, all he needs to do is hang on long enough to catch a well-paying money position. The way the payout structure is set though, even the person to finish on the very last money spot will walk away with more cash than the buy-in he paid.

Massive MTTs (freerolls especially) can prove frustratingly difficult to beat however, because of the huge number of people playing in them. Under such circumstances, the element of luck will be much more pronounced and it will often frustrate the best of players too.

STTs (Single Table Tournaments) represent the best way out of this predicament. Because there are only a few players (as many as a single table can accommodate – approximately 10 or 6) taking part in them, they become a whole different ballgame compared to MTTs. Beating seven players out of 10 is already enough for someone to double up, and all the other advantages MTTs have over cash games remain. Reduced competition equals better odds for players. STTs are available in a variety of formats too, like Speed, Turbo, Jackpot etc. Speed and Turbo STTs are faster STT versions featuring a faster blinds-leveling, and thus a faster conclusion.

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