How to Play Texas Hold'em Online Tournaments

There is a lot of difference between a regular Texas Hold'em cash game and a tournament. In a cash game, players have the option of buying chips at any time. On the other hand, in online tournaments - except in re-buys - players are busted when they run out of chips. Also, in online tournaments, blinds keep increasing steadily unlike in cash games.

Texas Hold'em tournaments require the use of skill at every level. Strategies can be applied based on what your goal is. For example, to win a big hand, a player may move all-in with his chips. In case he wins the hand, he gets a lot of money. Otherwise, he is busted out. Players, who intend to stay in tournaments till the end, generally don't move all-in in a single hand. Those who want to win big, aim at getting better odds before putting their chips into the pot.


Buy-ins have to be paid only when you play in online poker tournaments. When a player pays a tournament buy-in, he qualifies to enter the event. He is then given a certain amount of chips. The player has to continue playing with the chips throughout the tournament. When the player's chips stack gets over, he is eliminated.

All participants in a Texas Hold'em tournament are given equal number of chips. Each player aims at increasing his chip stack by busting his opponents. Tournaments played according to re-buy formats allow players to re-enter a tournament when their chip stack is over. However, re-buys are allowed only in select tournaments. In most cases, re-buys are made available to all players. However, some tournaments allow re-buys to only players low on chips.

Prize Pools

Online poker tournaments have prize pools on offer. These are shared by the top finishers of an event. When a player pays for a buy-in, a part of it goes into the prize pool. So, the prize pool amount is affected by the number of players registering for an event. For guaranteed Texas Hold'em tourneys, the prize pool is announced by sites before registration begins. For such tournaments, a poker room adds extra cash to the prize pool in case the announced amount is not met by buy-ins.

Single Table and Multi Table Tournaments

A single table tournament, also known as a Sit n Go (SNG), begins when its seats are filled up. When the required number of players registers, chips are distributed. Unlike SNGs where players can play only at one table, multi table tournaments (MTTs), allow them to play at several tables at the same time. The final table of an MTT is played according to an SNG format. The winners of different tables sit at the final table. The prize pool for these events is shared by the final tablers.

Betting System

The betting format of a Texas Hold'em tournament can be of various types: structured, unstructured or semi structured. In case of a structured tournament, bets of a specified limit can be placed. It cannot be raised beyond this point. For example in a seven card stud tournament with 10/20 stakes, bets can be upto $10 during the initial betting rounds and $20 in the later stages.

In case of a semi structured tournament format, bets cannot be placed outside a certain range. Pot limit tournament is an example of a semi structured event. Bets cannot exceed beyond the pot size. Spread limit Hold'em is also played according to a semi structured format. Bets have to be placed between a maximum and minimum amount specified by sites.

An unstructured tournament is one where no betting limit is specified. This is the most popular variant of Texas Hold'em tournaments. Players are allowed to wager any amount they want, even during the initial betting rounds.

Players should ideally keep certain factors in mind when playing Texas Hold'em tournaments. For instance, it is best to select a table that is suitable for your bankroll. Your bankroll should be ideally 20 times the buy-in. Also, it is best to play at tables having the maximum big blinds.