Playing either poker tournaments online or in bricks & mortar casinos there are several different formats & rules to consider when deciding which sort of multi-table tournaments, known as MTT’s you want to play in.
Freezout or Elimination –
This is the the most common type of poker tournament. You play your entry buy-in including the poker room fee which is usually around 10% of the ticket eg. A $20+2 freezeout tournament. All players start with the same amount of poker chips, this may vary from site to site but generally between 800-1500 chips each. You play until you’ve lost your chips, the winner is the player who eliminates all the other players and wins all the chips.
As with all tournaments play starts with low level blinds which keep increasing over time, as the number of players decreases the total amount of chips in play remains the same but is split between fewer players. Depending on the payout structure and size of the tournament the prize money may be split between the top 10 or more players on a sliding scale. The higher you finish the higher the percentage of the prize pool you win.
Tip – The important thing to remember playing freezeout tournaments is once you’ve lost your chips your out the game – so playing them requires discipline and caution so that you don’t get knocked out early playing speculative or coin flip hands.
Unlike a freeze-out tournament if you loose your chips in a re-buy tournament you have the opportunity to stay in the game by re-buying another stack of chips. As with freezeout tournaments you all start with the same amount of chips but within a specified initial time period (usually the 1st hour) you may re-buy your chips to carry on playing in the tournament.
This tends to lead to two key differences from freezeout tournaments –
1) The play will be much more aggressive and players will take more risks during the initial re-buy period.
2) The prize pot will grow to be a good deal bigger than the initial buy-ins as players pay for double, triple or more buy-in’s to stay in the tournament.
Tip – Playing in re-buy tournaments still requires discipline but you will be confronted with a lot more all-in decisions in the re-buy period. Many players will play very loose aggressive on weak hands – Don’t do the same. Having to re-buy after calling an all-in with AA or KK or maybe even going all-in with KA suited or QQ in late position against a maniac is OK. But finding yourself re-buying because you are playing loose aggressive is not. It’s worth considering that just making more one re-buy will probably mean you must get into the prize money just to break even.
Satellite or Qualifiers –
A qualifier tournament means you are competing to win a ticket or tickets to another bigger tournament. There may also be some prize money for lower places in a qualifier. Winner of the World Series of Poker 2003 Chris Moneymaker won his $10,000 entry ticket to the WSOP main event through a $40 satellite tournament on the internet. Low buy-in qualifiers could earn you a ticket to the next level qualifier and eventually if you keep winning each tournament gain you entry to the main event for a fraction of the ticket price.
Tip – It’s worth assessing each tournament on the level of competition. Some of the satellites for entry tickets direct into the main tournament can be several hundred pounds so you really need to know you up to the task. It’s worth monitoring the entry numbers – you’ve got a lot more chance against 50 entrants than 1500 so look out for any opportunities to shorten your odds.
A freeroll tournament required no entry fee, sometime you may need a certain amount of loyalty points to enter but they are always free to enter. As a result you will have some of the worst players entering as they don’t want to invest their own money into the game – as a result they are less worried about the outcome.
Tip – Think of them like re-buy tournaments on acid. Maniacs galore with nothing to loose and a few dollars to gain. Good for MTT practise but a lot of time invested for a low return. Hunt out the under subscribed and big money freerolls and play those to maximise you profit / time ratio.
There are other factors to consider when playing all types of MTT tournaments –
Payout structure – Different tournaments have steep or shallow payout structures. A shallow structure would split the total prize money between many more players than the final table giving you more chance of winning something but reducing the amount given out to players individually, a steep payout means less chance of winning but the prize money would be bigger for the fewer winners.
Number of entries – Entering into very big tournaments may mean a bigger prize find but it also means a lot more players to get through. Look out for the guaranteed prize fund tournaments especially if they have got low entries as this is giving you a shot at good prize fund with a less competition.