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Ultimate Guide to Poker Tournaments

Poker tournaments are exciting, fast-paced, and intense. They can also be a little overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start.

We are here to help by offering some information and additional resources that will help you start playing tournament poker.

Keep reading this page to find out about various types and formats of poker tournaments and how to find online poker tourneys that work for you.

Poker Tournament Basics

Let’s start by addressing the most fundamental question. How do poker tournaments work?

Poker tournaments are highly structured events. They come in all different shapes and sizes, but the details need to be determined before the tournament begins.

Some of those details include the size of the buy-in, the number of starting chips, blinds, antes, and time limits. Here are some essential things you need to understand before you join a tournament.

  • Tournament buy-ins are typically listed in an X+Y format. The X is the amount each player contributes to the prize pool, and the Y amount goes to the poker room facilitating the game.
  • The exact prize size will depend on the number of players and the buy-ins. No matter the size of the prize pool, predetermined rules dictate the number of players who get a prize and how the prizes will be divided.
  • Multi-table tournaments or MTT’s have a specified start time, both online and in person. You should be present or logged in when the tournament starts.
  • Sit and go’s are tournaments without a specified start time. They begin as soon as the correct number of players has joined.

One of the primary differences between poker tournaments and cash games is that tournaments have levels. You will start the tournament at the lowest blind level.

The size of the blinds increases every time you reach the end of a level. Each level lasts a certain amount of time, as determined by the tournament rules.

You need to be mindful of your chip stacks because of tournament levels. If you don’t have enough chips to cover the blinds when a new level starts, you will blind out and lose your place in the tournament.

Texas hold ‘em is the most common poker variant used in poker tourneys. There are plenty of other poker tournament games, though.

Now that you know the basics of how poker tournaments work, let’s explore some of the different types of poker tournaments online.

Types of Poker Tournaments

If you watch televised poker tourneys, you might be familiar with some different types of poker tournaments. The reality is that poker tournaments are probably much more varied than you expect.

There are many different poker tournament formats. Some of them can overlap, which makes it a little more confusing.

For example, you can have a bounty tournament that is also a satellite tournament. Guaranteed tournaments can also be rebuy tournaments.

Let’s explore the most common types of tournaments at online poker sites and land-based poker rooms.

Guaranteed Poker Tournaments

Poker tournaments with a guaranteed prize pool

The number of players in a tournament significantly affects the prize pool.

If 100 players buy-in at $100, the prize pool will only be $10,000. When 1,000 players buy-in, that same tournament can have a $100,000 prize pool.

It is difficult to estimate how many players will join a particular tournament. Some players don’t want to join if the prize pool is too small compared to the buy-in.

That is where guaranteed poker tournaments come in. The poker room offers a guarantee to make up the difference if there are not enough players.

Let’s continue with the example above, assuming it is a guaranteed tournament with a $100,000 prize pool. If only 900 players join the tournament, the poker room will add $10,000 so that the prize pool is $100,000.

It is important to remember that the prize pool will be divided amongst the top players. Depending on the payout structure, that $100,000 could be split between 100-200 players.

If the poker room ends up covering part of the prize pool, you have better odds of winning because there are fewer people you have to beat to win.

Guaranteed poker tournaments are an excellent choice because they offer a chance to win significant prizes. That explains why they’re one of the most popular types of online poker tournaments.

Bounty Tournaments / Knockout Tournaments

Bounty tournaments add an exciting twist to the action by placing bounties on each players’ head. If you knock another player out of the tournament, you receive their bounty on top of the regular prizes.

Some bounty tournaments have the same bounty for all players. Other tournaments might have specific players, like industry professionals, with much higher bounties on their heads. The money for bounty prizes usually comes from the buy-ins.

Here is an example of how buy-ins work for knockout tournaments.

Poker knockout tournament
  • You will typically see the buy-in expressed as $100+$10+$5.
  • $100 would go toward the main prize pool.
  • $10 would go to the poker room’s rake.
  • $5 would go toward the players’ bounties.

Bounty prizes are typically 20% of the main buy-in amount. Super Knockout tournaments offer bounties as high as 50% of the buy-in.

Progressive knockout tournaments split the bounties that you receive. You win half of the bounty, and the rest gets added to your bounty. That means that other players have an incentive to knock you out because you have a higher bounty.

Knockout tournaments are fun because players have to modify their strategies. For example, some players will play more aggressively because they want to knock out another player.

Satellite Tournaments

Satellite poker tournaments

Poker tournament payouts depend on the size of the buy-in, as well as the number of players. Many tournaments have $1,000, $5,000, or even $10,000 buy-ins.

Many players want a chance to play for their share of those massive prizes, but they might not be able to afford the significant buy-in. Satellite tournaments offer a solution.

You can enter a tournament with a lower buy-in amount. If you win that tournament, the poker room will pay for your buy-in to the more expensive tournament instead of offering a cash prize.

Chris Moneymaker is a famous poker player who earned his fame by playing in satellite tournaments. In 2003, he joined a satellite tournament for an $86 buy-in. He won that tournament and multiple subsequent tournaments with higher buy-ins.

The final tournament was a satellite tournament for the World Series of Poker Main Event, which typically costs $10,000. Moneymaker beat out several professionals to win the WSOP for more than $2.5 million.

Poker exploded in popularity after this. It became known as the Moneymaker Effect.

Step Poker Tournaments

Step tournaments combine the concept of a satellite tournament with single table sit-and-go tournaments.

Each step has a different buy-in amount. For example, the buy-ins might range from $1-$50 for a tournament with five steps.

You can join a game at each step by paying that buy-in or winning a token from another step. When there are enough players at each step, the tournament will begin, following the sit-and-go format.

Steps and Buy-ins Step 1
Buy-in: $1
Step 2
Buy-in: $5
Step 3
Buy-in: $10
Step 4
Buy-in: $20
Step 5
Buy-in: $50
1st Place Prize Token to Step 2 Token to Step 3 Token to Step 4 Token to Step 5 Cash Prize or Buy-in for a larger tournament
2nd Place Prize Token to Repeat Step 1 Token to Repeat Step 2 Token to Step 4 Token to Step 5 Token to Repeat Step 5
3rd Place Prize Cash Prize Token to Repeat Step 2 Token to Repeat Step 3 Token to Repeat Step 4 Token to Step 4
4th Place Prize None Cash Prize Token to Repeat Step 3 Token to Step 3 Token to Step 4
5th Place Prize None None Cash Prize Token to Step 3 Cash Prize
6th Place Prize None None None Cash Prize None

Some step tournaments have five, eight, or ten steps. The number of steps, the buy-in amounts, and the payout structure all vary. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the tournament’s structure before you decide which step of the tournament you want to join.

Step poker tournaments are an excellent choice because they give you a lot of poker experience with a single buy-in as long as you win one of the prizes. Even if your prize is a buy-in for a lower level, you still get an extra chance to play without having to buy in again.

Freezeout Tournaments

Freezeout poker tournaments

Most poker tournaments are freezeout tournaments. That simply means that each player starts with the same number of chips, and they are out of the tournament when they run out of chips.

You cannot buy more chips to re-enter the tournament. Once you run out of chips, there is nothing to be done.

Some tournaments use a combined format where rebuys are allowed up until a certain point. Then, it becomes a freezeout tournament after the rebuy period has ended.

Freezeout tournaments do not last as long as rebuy or combined tournaments. They go quicker because the players who bust the tourney cannot buy back in.

The disadvantage of freezeout tournaments is that they typically have lower prize pools than rebuy tournaments where the prize pool grows with each rebuy or add-on.

Rebuy and Add-on Tournaments

Poker tournaments with rebuys and add-ons

Remember when you were a kid, and you messed up during a game? You probably asked for a do-over. Rebuys and add-ons are kind of like a do-over for a poker tournament.

They allow you to pay your buy-in a second time to get back into the tournament. But these do-overs work in specific ways.

There is a specific time period for rebuys and add-ons. It is typically the first hour of the tournament. Some rebuy periods end after a specific level of the tournament is reached.

Here are the different kinds of rebuys and add-ons some tournaments offer and the rules applicable to each one.

  • Rebuys: During the rebuy period, you can pay the buy-in amount to receive the starting number of chips. You can only rebuy when you run out of chips or when your stacks fall below a specified threshold.
  • Re-entries: Re-entries are similar to rebuys, except you have to get knocked out of the tournament before you can buy in again. When you re-enter a tournament, you will pay the starting buy-in and receive the starting amount of chips.
  • Add-ons: An add-on allows you to get extra chips at a specific time, no matter how many chips you have in your stack. Add-ons typically cost less than a full rebuy, and the number of chips you get for the add-on varies.

The benefit of these types of tournaments is that they increase the prize pool without increasing the number of competitors. When more players take advantage of the rebuy options, the cost of each rebuy or add-on gets added to the prize pool.

You need to modify your strategy when you play in rebuy tournaments. Many players are more aggressive during the first few levels because they know they will have a chance to buy in again.

Freeroll Poker Tournaments

Freeroll poker tournaments are free for the players. Typically, the poker room covers the cost to play.

There are a few different ways you can get a freeroll tournament.

Freeroll poker tourneys
  • Some online poker sites offer freerolls as a welcome bonus for new players. You can choose which tournament you want to join from some preselected options. Then, the poker room may offer you a promo code to use when you join the tournament, or they will add funds to your account to cover the buy-in cost.
  • Poker rooms may offer freeroll tournaments to specific players. They use freerolls as an incentive to motivate players who haven’t played in a while.
  • Professional and highly qualified poker players may be invited to invitation-only poker tournaments that are typically freerolls.

It is crucial to understand that freerolls are real money online poker tournaments – they have real money prize pools. These are different from free tournaments with play (fake) money prize pools.

Shootout Poker Tournaments

Poker shootout tournaments

A shootout is a multi-table tournament where only one player from each table advances to the final round.

During other poker tournaments, players get reassigned to different tables based on their place at the end of each round. This format helps keep the tables balanced as players get eliminated.

Shootout tournaments have every player stay at the same table until there is only one player left who has been eliminated. Then, the winner from each table plays at the final table. 

The number of players might be limited in a shootout tournament. It has to be based on multiples of the final table size.

Because you play the entire tournament with the same group of people, you become acquainted with the other players. Skilled players use that time to determine information about each players’ strategies.

Poker Tournament Formats and Variations

Each of these different types of tournament in poker has specific details that represent that tournament variation. On top of these categories, a few characteristics or variations have to be determined for each tournament.

Variations like the time of the blind levels, starting stacks, and the number of players per table all affect the format of poker tournaments.

These are the most common variations used in poker tournaments.

Poker tournament variants
  • Turbo/Hyper-Turbo – These tournaments are faster than regular tournaments. The blind levels are only 5 minutes in a turbo tournament and only 3 minutes in a hyper-turbo tournament. Regular tournaments typically have blind levels that last ten or more minutes.
  • Deep Stacks or Short Stacks – The number of chips you start with is much higher in a deep stacks tournament and much lower in a short stacks tournament. A regular tournament offers 100 big blinds as your starting chip amount.
  • Full-ring, Short-handed, or Heads-up – Each of these terms refers to the number of players at each table. A full ring is nine or ten players, and short-handed is typically six players. Heads-up tournaments are between just two players.

These features can all be combined with one of the other types of poker tournament. For example, you can have a turbo freezeout with a guaranteed prize. Or you could join a deep stack bounty tournament.

It is crucial to modify your playing strategies and bankroll management plan based on these factors. If you are playing in a turbo tournament, you don’t have time for lengthy decisions.

When you play with deep stacks, you have more chips to play around with. Some players use them to play hands you otherwise would have folded. Other players use them to go for bigger raises.

You will want to consider the variations and how it compliments your skill set and playing style before you sign up to play.

Poker Sit and Go Tournaments

SNG poker tournaments

Sit and Go (SNG) tournaments are different from other poker tournaments. Instead of having a scheduled start time, SNGs start as soon as a specific number of players has joined.

In a land-based poker room, SNGs are sometimes referred to as STT or single-table tournaments. However, online poker rooms have expanded this concept.

Some sit-and-goes have one table with six or nine players. Other SNG’s have up to 180 players or twenty tables with nine players each.

There are two primary benefits of playing sit-and-go tournaments.

  • First, they are available all the time. You don’t have to join at a specific time because the tournament starts whenever enough players join.
  • Second, SNG tournaments are much smaller than multi-table tournaments. Many MTTs have thousands of players. SNG tournaments are limited.

The smaller number of players means that it is easier for beginners to play and potentially win. You don’t have to beat hundreds of players. As long as you beat a few other players, you could win in the money.

Here are a few other ways that SNG tournaments are different from multi-table tournaments.

Sit and Go Tournaments Multi-table Tournaments
Variance Less variance due to smaller field High variance due to a large number of players
Tournament Length 30-60 minutes 8-10 hours
Stack Size Typically 75-150 BB Typically 100-200 BB
ICM (Independent Chip Model) ICM is important all throughout the tournament, more so when near or in the money ICM doesn’t become crucial until the later stages, when near or in the money
Typical Buy-ins Between $0.10 and $100 Between $1-$500

The limited number of players will affect your strategy and bankroll management when you play SNG tournaments.

SNG tournaments can include many of the other online poker tournaments formats and variations we have already mentioned. For example, they can be freezeout or rebuy tourneys. There are turbo and regular speed SNGs, too.

Check out this page to learn more about sit-and-go tournaments, including strategy tips.

Why Play Poker Tournaments?

You can play poker tournaments online for money, or you can join a cash game. Both of these options offer excellent poker experiences.

Everyone should try both cash games and tournaments for themselves. Of course, different players will like one format more than the other.

So, we want to give you a little information about why we like poker tournaments. This information will help you determine whether poker tournaments or cash games are best for you.

Poker Tournaments vs. Cash Games

Tournaments vs poker cash games

Poker cash games are different from tournaments because players do not start with the same amount of chips.

The poker room will set a minimum and maximum buy-in amount. Players can exchange any amount of cash for chips, as long as it is between those limits.

For example, if the table limits are a minimum of $120 and a maximum of $400, you could buy-in for $200.

However, the player next to you might start with $400 worth of chips, and the player next to them might only have $150.

Everyone pays the same buy-in when you enter a tournament and starts with the same number of chips. If it is a rebuy tournament, the rebuy number of chips is also the same for all players.

Therefore, tournaments offer a level playing field. You can’t get bullied out of the gate by someone who happens to have deeper pockets than you do.

Here are a few more differences between cash games and poker tournaments.

  • Cash games also allow you to rebuy any time you want.
  • You can leave a cash game at any time. Tournaments don’t end until you run out of chips or win.
  • Poker tournaments raise the blind levels every 10 minutes or so. When you play a cash game, the blinds are the same for the duration of the game.
  • Tournaments typically offer much larger prizes, but only to the top players. The size of the pot in cash games depends on the players and the blind levels.

There is nothing wrong with playing cash games. But you might like poker tournaments more if you prefer a more structured game where everyone starts at the same level.

We have a guide on our website where we explain how cash games work in more detail. You might check it out if you’re unsure whether this is the right type of poker game for you.

Online vs. In-Person Poker Tournaments

Comparing online and live poker tournaments

All of the various types of poker tournaments are available both online and in person. You might be wondering how online poker tournaments are different than live tournament poker.

The most significant difference between playing in-person and online is that you can’t see the other players. Online poker software will tell you how many chips they have, and it might offer a screen name.

When you play in person, you can see every move your opponent makes. You can look for “tells,” such as how they fiddle with their chips when they are bluffing.

Online poker tournaments force you to pay attention to when other players call, raise, and fold. You can even track their habits using Heads-up display software or notetaking.

In-person players tend to rely more on physical habits, while online players focus on the kinds of moves each player makes.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to play tournament poker. Some poker players like one over the other, while lots of people play both. The choice is yours.

Where to Play Poker Tournaments Online

Now that you know more about how to play tournament poker, you need to find an online poker site to join. Here are our recommendations for the sites with the best online poker tournaments.

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Maximize your bankroll with fantastic bonuses. Our recommended sites offer valuable bonuses with fair terms and conditions, including manageable wagering requirements.

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The best sites have the best wagering options. That’s why you will find extensive games and betting opportunities on our recommended sites.

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Getting your money to and from your account shouldn’t be a hassle. We only recommend sites with a variety of convenient banking methods, including cryptocurrency and e-wallets.

Just like any online gambling site, there are many factors that affect the quality of online poker sites.

Some online poker rooms excel in SNG tournaments, while others offer a lot of satellites or the best guaranteed prizes.

If you know what type of poker tournament you want to play, you should find the poker room that offers the best for that type. These pages might help you find what you are looking for.

The next section will help you learn how to find a quality poker site for yourself.

How to Choose the Best Tournament Poker Site

You can take our word for it and start playing poker tournaments now at one of our recommended sites. We have tested and reviewed all of these sites to make sure they are worth recommending.

If you plan to play online poker in the long term, it is a good idea for you to learn how to find the best poker tournaments for yourself.

Here are a few things you should consider before joining an online tournament poker site.

Best online poker sites for tournaments
  • Do they have the tournament formats and game variants that you want to play?
  • Does their tournament schedule work for you? Will they have tournaments available when you have time to join them?
  • Do they have tournaments at the stakes you want to play?
  • How well does their software work on your device?
  • Does their software work on both your computer and cell phone?
  • Are there specific software features you are looking for? For example, do you want HUD-compatible software or anonymous poker games?
  • How much traffic does the poker site get? If they don’t have enough traffic, they won’t have enough players to make the tournaments worthwhile.
  • How much does the site pay for overlays on a regular basis? Overlays are the amount of money a site has to provide to offer guaranteed prizes.
  • Do they have Sunday majors tournaments that interest you?
  • Is there a particular tournament series or satellite that you want to join? Does that particular site host that series?
  • Do they offer freerolls? How do they determine who qualifies for freeroll tournaments?
  • Do they process payouts for winners quickly and easily?
  • Are there any perks that they offer winning poker players? For example, do they offer to prioritize their withdrawals or give them special treatment?
  • What poker bonuses and promotions do they offer?

We realize that this list has a lot of questions. If you have never played in an online poker tournament before, you might not know how much traffic to look for or what kinds of promotions are worthwhile.

That’s okay. You can read our in-depth online poker room reviews to find out more information about a specific site. After that, you have to choose one and go for it. The more you join online poker tourneys, the more familiar you will become with specific features.

Before you know it, you will be an expert at choosing the best sites to play poker tournaments online for real money.

Biggest Online Poker Tournaments

Once you have gotten used to playing online poker tournaments, you might want to challenge yourself. You can do that by joining some of the best poker tournaments online.

Here is some more information about the biggest tournaments online that attract both professional and amateur players.


PokerStars is one of the most prominent online poker rooms around the world. One reason they are so popular is that they host the WCOOP and SCOOP tournaments.

WCOOP is the World Championship of Online Poker. It is the largest poker tournament series that takes place entirely online. SCOOP is the Spring Championship of Online Poker.

Both of these events are series of tournaments. That means there are between 60-100 tournaments. The winner of each tournament gets the cash prize for that event, so there are dozens of winners each year.

Here are the poker games typically included in the WCOOP/SCOOP tournaments.

PokerStars WCOOP and SCOOP
  • Limit/Pot Limit/No-Limit Texas Hold ‘Em
  • Seven-card Stud
  • Seven-card Stud Hi/Lo
  • Razz
  • Pot-Limit Omaha
  • Limit Omaha Hi/Lo
  • Five-card Draw
  • 2-7 Triple Draw
  • 2-7 Single Draw
  • Mixed Limit Games
  • Badugi

You do not have to be a high-roller to participate in one of these tournaments. They both offer high, medium, and low-stakes versions of each event.

That includes the Main Event. For example, the SCOOP 2021 Main Event include the following options.

Number of Players Game Variant Stakes Level Buy-in Guaranteed Prize
8-Max No Limit Hold ‘Em High $10,300 $5,000,000
8-Max No Limit Hold ‘Em Medium $1,050 $5,000,000
8-Max No Limit Hold ‘Em Low $109 $3,000,000
6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha High $10,300 $1,250,000
6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha Medium $1,050 $750,000
6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha Low $109 $350,000

You can join the tournaments at whichever stakes you are comfortable with. There are also satellite tournaments that offer buy-ins to all of the WCOOP/SCOOP tournaments.

Other Online Poker Tournaments

None of the other online tournaments are as extensive as the WCOOP and SCOOP tournament series. But there are plenty of other options that are worth mentioning.

Tournament Title Poker Site Buy-Ins Prize Pool Schedule
Micro Millions PokerStars $0.50-$22 $4.5 Million GTD for the series; Two events have $1 million guarantees Annual Series
Black Diamond Poker Open Bovada/Ignition $4-$450 $6.3 Million GTD for the series Annual Series
$1 Million Windfall Jackpot BetOnline $3-$30 $1 million random prize pool multiplier Promotional Event
Millions Online Party Poker $5,300 for Main Event More than $21 million in 2018 and 2019 Annual Series
Monster Series Party Poker $1.10-$265 $1.5 million GTD across 82 events Annual Series
The Big Shot 888Poker $22-$525 $5,000-$150,000 Daily Tournament
Royal Series iPoker Network $0.50-$100 $300,000 across 8 events Annual Series

Sunday Majors

Most online poker sites have an extensive collection of Sunday poker tournaments. Sundays work well for tournaments because most players don’t have to worry about their work schedules.

Sunday majors come in all shapes and sizes. Buy-ins can range from $0.50 to $10,300. Here are some examples of the top Sunday online poker tournaments around the world.

Keep in mind that poker sites may host special events or change their schedule at any time. This list is not exhaustive but simply a sample.

Poker Site Major Sunday Poker Tournaments Guaranteed Prizes Range of Buy-ins
PokerStars Sunday Million
Sunday Warm-Up
Sunday Storm
Women’s Sunday
Up to $1 Million $11-$215+
Party Poker $10k Super Bounty
Sunday 500
The Weekender
The One Shot Knockout
$55-$100,000 $0.50-$300
Bovada/Ignition $150k GTD
Monthly Milly
$100k GTD
$8 PKO Crazy Eights
$2,000-$1,000,000 $1-$535
888 Poker The Main Event
Big Shot
High Roller Tourneys
$25,000-$150,000 $27.50-$525
iPoker Network $5,000 Deep Run
$30,000 Sunday Premium
$10,000 Phoenix
$2,000-$30,000 $3-$100
BetOnline.ag Main Event
Monster Grind
Super High Roller
$5,000-$150,000 $6-$530
SportsBetting.ag $150k GTD
Main Event
Micro Main Event
Mini Main Event
$1,000-$150,000 $2.20-$109

All of these Sunday poker tournaments have specific start times, and they are available every week.

Depending on the event, you can join satellites to earn tickets into the Sunday majors. Or you can win satellite tickets into another tournament through the Sunday poker tournaments online.

Sunday is the best day to play online poker tournaments because that is when most sites offer their highest guarantees and more tournament options.

Biggest Live Poker Tournaments

You can join poker tournaments in person as well. Casinos and poker rooms all have their own schedule of tournaments that operate daily or weekly.

In addition to those regular tournaments, there are also major events and tournament series. We’re going to introduce you to some of the top tournament series in the world.

It is important to remember that these series often last a month or longer. They can have 50-200 different events with winners for each event.

We will introduce some of the most noteworthy events for each tournament series. But you should check out our other pages to find out more about all the events they include.

World Series of Poker


The World Series of Poker is the longest-running poker event in the world. This tournament series has been running since 1970.

There are more than 100 events that are part of the WSOP each year. They include a variety of poker variants and tournament structures. More than half of the events focus on Texas Hold ‘Em.

All winners receive an official WSOP bracelet and a cash prize based on the number of players in that event.

WSOP takes place at the Rio in Las Vegas each June and July. The Main Event is the $10,300 buy-in Texas Hold ‘Em freezeout.

Other notable events in the WSOP are the Poker Players’ Championship and the Big One for One Drop events.

The Poker Players’ Championship is an eight-game mixed tournament with a $50,000 buy-in. Big One for One Drop has a $1 million buy-in, with 11% of the buy-in going to raise money for the One Drop Foundation.

You can find out more about the World Series of Poker, including notable winners, by checking out our WSOP page.

World Poker Tour


The World Poker Tour is unique because it is operated as a television series. It has been televised since it began in 2002 and was the first tournament to use hole-card cameras.

Each episode of the television series features the final table of a different WPT event. These events happen all over the world, in both land-based and online casinos.

All of the event winners receive cash prizes and membership in the WPT Champions Club. In addition, their names get engraved on the WPT Champions Cup.

They are also invited to participate in the Tournament of Champions. It is a $15,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold ‘Em event.

One of the unique features of the WPT is its Player of the Year system. Every player who wins in the money on any WPT event receives points based on their finishing place.

The player with the most points at the end of the season gets named the Player of the Year. Because players can enter multiple events, the Player of the Year is not determined by a single game.

So far, none of the competitors that won the Player of the Year have also won the Tournament of Champions.

Check out our World Poker Tour page to find out more.

European Poker Tour


The European Poker Tour began in 2004 with the same structure as the WPT. Do not let the name confuse you. EPT has events all over the world, including the Bahamas. It is not limited to Europe.

John Duthie, the winner of the first Poker Millions event, started the EPT, but it is owned and operated by PokerStars.

Their goal was to include more players by offering buy-ins that were approximately half the WPT buy-ins.

That plan worked a little too well because there were too many players. The smaller European casinos could not accommodate all of them.

In 2007, the buy-in for the Main Event was raised to €8,000. Depending on the currency exchange rate, that is similar to the $10,000 buy-in for many WPT events.

PokerStars changed the name of the EPT in 2017. They rebranded it as the PokerStars Championship. That change didn’t last long as the European Poker Tour relaunched in 2018.

Learn more about the European Poker Tour here.

Aussie Millions

Australian Poker Championship

The largest poker tournament in the Southern hemisphere is the Australian Poker Championship. It is better known as the Aussie Millions.

This tournament series takes place every January at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. It has fifteen events, including the Main Event, the High Roller Challenge, and the Super High Roller.

Aussie Millions Main Event is a little different from other tournaments because they start with 8-handed players. Once the field has decreased to 36 players, they switch to 6-handed tables. They also have blind levels that last 90-120 minutes long.

The High Roller Challenge and Super High Roller are Texas Hold ‘Em events with $100,500 and $250,000 buy-ins.

Read our guide where we cover the Aussie Millions in more detail.

Advice for Playing Poker Tournaments

Knowing how to join a poker tournament is not the same as knowing how to win a poker tournament. So, here are a few strategy tips that will help you play better.

  • Steal the pot before the flop. Depending on the blinds and ante levels, raising pre-flop is a good way to intimidate passive players into folding. This strategy works best if you are sitting in a late position on the table.
  • Defend your big blinds by calling when other players raise. It is better to defend more often, even if your hand is somewhat weak, than to be pushed around.
  • Adjust your strategy based on the number of big blinds you have. When you have a deeper stack, you can play like it is a cash game. Conversely, short stacks require less aggressive play.
  • Plan your moves ahead of future streets. You should know your plan before your turn to bet comes around. Think of your plan and what you will do if your opponent raises or folds. Of course, you can’t think of every possibility, but it is better to be prepared.
  • Modify your strategy based on the number of players. Heads-up games are entirely different than full-ring poker. You should use different strategies at a short-handed table. If you get to the end of the tournament, you will have to defeat the other player in a heads-up battle for the win. Make sure you know what to do in that situation before you get there.

These are just a few basic strategy tips to get you started. Of course, you will need to study more to really become a poker tournament expert.

One way to do that is to study different poker game variations. For example, it is beneficial to know the differences between Hold ‘Em and Omaha. There are also differences between no-limit and pot-limit formats.

The bottom line – the more you understand poker and all its nuances, the better you will play. The better you play, the better your chances of taking down the next online poker tournament you play.

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