Poker tournaments have grown from being a niche game to the most played poker format online. They range in size from 10,000’s of players to single-tables and have prize pools which are sometimes measured in the millions. This article explains the main types of tournament available, explaining the pros and cons of each one and where to find the very best sites for tournament poker.
Before you find the best room, you need to decide what kind of game is best suited to your skill level, bankroll and goals. Below I have covered big buy-in games, smaller stakes tourneys and the more specialist games with different formats, games and structures. After that you’ll find a mention for the tournament events, before I cover the pros and cons of choosing specific sites.
The biggest games each week are known as the ‘Sunday Majors’. All sites hold these games and guaranteed prize pools start at around $100,000. The biggest of them all is the PokerStars Sunday Million, which often has a prize pool going over the million which is guaranteed. This costs $215 to enter and is played by pros and amateurs alike. Many players win their seat in qualifier games, which reach fever-pitch in the hours before the big game kicks off.
In addition to the Sunday Majors, there are a lot of bigger tourneys online each week ranging from $100 through to $1000 buy-ins. Head to the biggest poker sites like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and the iPoker Network to see the busiest schedules and biggest guaranteed prize pools.
Small buy-in games are kicking off every minute on different sites, the variety of games and structures is amazing. Rebuys, turbo blinds, knockout bounties, short-handed games and different poker games all compete for your attention.
You can find small buy-in games with some very big prizes at the largest online poker sites. For example $5 entry games with $30,000 guaranteed. To win these you will often have to battle many thousands of players – so make sure you do not have to get up for work or college the next day.
If you prefer smaller tournaments, then many smaller sites have fields in the 100 to 300 range for their evening events. There is still great money for the winner, and you will not have to spend half of the night to get to the final table.
For players really short on time, tournaments start at just one-table. Known as Sit N Goes, these games have no set start time and will kick off as soon as they are full. Great for getting your fix of tournament poker in less than an hour.
If you want to enjoy tournaments in games other than Texas Holdem, or with special formats like timed events, 2x turbos or multiple simultaneous entries – then you really need to head to the high traffic poker sites online. Smaller sites just do not have the traffic to make these games happen. I recommend you try fast-fold poker tournaments like Zoom or Rush Poker. These are very entertaining games which recombine you with new opponents at the start of every hand.
Many sites now run special poker festivals lasting around 2 weeks at a time. Examples include the Full Tilt Online Poker Series (FTOPS) and the iPoker Online Poker Series (iPOPS) as well as the massive World Championship held at PokerStars.com.
These feature big buy-in games and often have prizes that could literally change your life if you win them. You can qualify through special satellite tournaments where the prizes are seats in the big games.
More recently, the sites became aware that smaller stakes players needed events of their own. This gap has been filled with events including the mini-FTOPS and Micro-Turbo Online Poker Series.
PokerStars.com: The breadth of tourneys available at PokerStars is simply mind-blowing. From the biggest online games, to fiercely competitive micro-stakes tournaments, Pokerstars is the top site if you’re looking for tournaments. If you find the fields too big, you can always try the multi-table Sit n Goes including the famous 180 player games. Every poker player should try the Sunday Million at least once, and you can win your ticket in small buy-in qualifiers which run throughout the week.
iPoker Network: Sites like Bet365 and William Hill are primarily sports betting brands. They pool together their poker fans on a common back-end called the iPoker Network, which enables them to run a ton of poker tournaments for their players. There is a big choice, thought he main draw is that many of your opponents will be first-time players coming from the sports-betting parts of these brands. This makes iPoker tournaments some of the softest online and well worth a visit.
Carbon Poker: US players are welcome at Carbon Poker, who goes the extra mile in looking after tournament fans with a big choice of games. You will find regular tournament events with big prize pools under the name ‘COPS’ (Carbon Online Poker Series). There are plenty of smaller field games which will not take half the night, and best of all – the games are soft too.