Tournament poker is suited to every sort of poker player. If you are a beginner, tournament poker may well be the best and most exciting way to learn the game. Better still, online tournament poker is especially cheap if you want to learn and practice. $5 sit-and-gos and $5 entry multi-table tournaments run around the clock.
If you are a seasoned cash game player or an experienced tournament player, time to roll up your bankroll at the various mid- and high-end buy-in tournaments on offer at online poker sites. Hundreds of thousands of dollars might be up for grabs as well as WSOP packages.
The most important thing to keep in mind with tournaments is that patience is the key. Most players who are eliminated prematurely do so because (a) they couldn’t wait for a better hand; or (b) they had to be the chip leader as soon as possible. The best way is to play solid in the early stages while all the wild swingers knock each other out. Then when you’re in the middle-late stages of a tournament (if you don’t get knocked out before hand), it’s time to open up your game and make good solid plays just as your opponents begin to tighten up in the hope of make the money. Shutting up shop too early and trying to survive the bubble is where you should be looking to build on your chip stack.
If you make it to the final table, it’s better to be a tiger and play fairly quickly. Don’t let opponents roll over you while you try and make the top three places. The final table usually pays relatively well and it’s better to get 9th place and go out fighting rather than come 7th with absolutely no chance of winning the tournament. Winners play to win – they don’t simply survive as long as possible.
The world of poker tournaments looks pretty complicated at first. But we simplify matters by looking at tournaments from a handful of different angles:
• Single-table vs. multi-table.
• Sit-and-go vs. scheduled.
• Play money vs. freeroll vs. real money.
• Rebuy vs. freezeout.
For players who are just getting started with tournaments, we recommend trying out a play-money, single-table, sit-and-go no-limit holdem event.
All poker tournaments have one thing in common. After play begins, you can't stand up and cash out your chips. You must continue to play until you have lost all your chips or you have won everybody else's chips. Beyond this basic rule, there are a lot of variations. In the next few sections, we cover the most important ones.