Thanks to the game's growing popularity, especially among younger bettors, poker tournaments are pretty easy to find. Many card rooms and casinos offer weekly tournaments with relatively modest buy-ins or entry fees. Some of the bigger rooms and casinos even offer daily tournaments.
In a tournament, players compete for a prize pool, which might be winner-take-all or might be divided up among the top four to seven finishing players. Rules vary from tournament to tournament. Players buy in for a set fee, and each player begins with the same number of chips as every other player. Some allow rebuys, in which busted players can purchase additional chips to stay in the game. Rebuys might be offered to all active players or only to players with short stacks (a smaller-than-average stack of chips), or they might be limited to one rebuy or certain times. Some tournaments also offer “add-ons,” which is a one-time opportunity for players to buy a certain number of additional chips. Each of these options, when offered, increases the total prize pool. If rebuys and add-ons are not offered, the tournament is called a “freeze-out,” and players are limited to the number of chips they receive at the start of the tournament, plus any chips they win during the course of play.
Betting structures also vary from tournament to tournament, but the betting limits almost always increase during the later rounds of play. This is done in part to hasten the end of the tournament; the bigger the bets, the more quickly players will be forced out in late rounds. Betting limit increases may occur based on time — every thirty minutes, for example — or based on rounds of play.
What should I look for in a tournament?
If you're new to tournament play, look for one that features a game you're comfortable with at a modest buy-in, and view it as an investment in increasing your experience. Your goal in your first few tournaments should be to learn as much as possible while spending as little as possible.