How To Play A Poker Tournament?

Have you ever wanted to play poker just like professionals do?

Then you will have to play at the tables they play. And we mean that you will have to play well.

Not average but at the top of your ability.

But before you do you, there are some other things that you will have to do. The first of those things is that you must find out how to play a poker tournament?

We will start with the simplest of things including:

  1. Basic poker rules
  2. How to play in tournaments?
  3. Good Poker Tournaments To Join
  4. Which tactics to use to maximise chances of winning?

Basic Poker Rules

rules of playing poker

We have talked about the rules of poker many times before but as the saying goes “repetition is the mother of all learning”, and when it comes to gambling especially then you will have to swear by this and make it a rule in your books.

Since most Poker tournaments revolve around Texas Hold’em, then this is going to be the variation we will be referring to at all times.

Poker is easy to learn but hard to master.

If you want to learn it well, then you must follow whatever the professionals say. So we as professionals are here to help you.

So how is the game played?

#1 The number one thing you must know about poker is how the players are laid out around the table.

For a game to begin, there must be at least two players. In the case of tournaments, anything from 5-10 players is eligible. You may get to see one to one knockout rounds from time to time though.

#2 When the round begins each of the players is dealt a couple of face-down cards. Those can be seen by the player only.

There are other cards that you can use to make up the best possible combination in your power, but this much depends on the five face-up cards that the dealer puts down for everybody to see.

Those are divided into the flop (first three cards), the turn (fourth card) and the river which is the fifth and final card to get put down.

#3 Depending on how strong the best possible combination between your hand and the five cards put down you may win or lose the current hand.

But this depends on various things like whether you will make the other players go all the way to the river or fold and let you win without going into the risk of calling your bet or raise.

Those possible hands are (sorted from worst to best):

  • High Card = when no one has at least a single pair then the person/s with the strongest card wins. Cards in order of descending power are A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.
  • One pair = have a combination of two same numbers like two 7s, two 10s and so on.
  • Two pairs = have two same combinations like both two 3s and 5s.
  • Three of a kind = have a combination of three same numbers like three Qs.
  • Straight = have five numbers in a row like 4-5-6-7-8 or anything of that sort.
  • Flush = have five numbers of the same suit but not of the same colour, like an A-3-5-7-9 all of which are clubs, hearts, spades, or diamonds.
  • Full house = have three of a kind and another pair like 4-4-4-5-5.
  • Four of a kind = have a combination of four same numbers like four Qs.
  • Straight Flush = When you have a straight which is a flush at the same time like 5-6-7-8-9 all of them being of the same suit.
  • Royal Flush = the most powerful possible hand you can have in Texas Hold’em which is a straight flush of 10-J-Q-K-A.

The actions a player can perform are:

  • Call: place the necessary chips in play (small/big blind players have to call half the needed amount remaining or check)
  • Check: proceed with the current amount bet without raising, folding etc.
  • Bet or raise: Put more money in the pot or call and then bet again
  • Fold: Give up your hand and leave the current hand
  • All in: Bet all your available chips

Read more in our guide on How To Play Poker Online.

How Po Play a Poker Tournament?

Taking part in a tournament isn’t as tricky as you would think.

Most of the times you won’t need credentials or any significant wins on your record to gain access.

Before you can enter a poker tournament, you are either going to purchase a seat (commonly referred to as a buy-in) or get access entirely for free.

As expected, Freeroll tournaments (the second kind) attract most of the players because you wouldn’t have to risk any money to enter them. The prize money is relatively smaller though.

The ones requiring a buy-in offer way higher prize pools, BUT you go into the risk of losing it all if you get disqualified. If you are lucky enough, you can earn money without even coming first. Many times all top three places win a reward.

This depends of course on what type of tournament you are participating in.

If for example, you are participating in a multi-table tournament, then you most likely will get prizes even if you reach the final table.

If you are playing single table tournaments, then the chances are that only the one single player remaining in play will get a prize.

The rules of the game remain the same, and the only things that can change are the blinds which will increase over time so that the tournament can end relatively quickly and not take many hours.

The other thing that can change is the prize but only in the case you are playing in a Jackpot tournament (technically not a tournament as it takes just a few minutes). Or a shared prize pool one where the prize depends on the amount of money each player uses as a buy-in (only applicable in the tournaments where each player can buy in with as many chips as he pleases).

Read more in our guide How To Join a Poker Tournament.

Good Poker Tournaments To Join

There are plenty of good choices like the Poker rooms offered on the platforms provided by the Best Partners network.

These are Bovada for US citizens, Bodog for Canadians and Ignition for the European gamblers.

All of those provide both classic and Freeroll tournaments. Those sites are great since you can also use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin for example so if you want to keep your full anonymity while gambling online.

If you want to play on an esteemed and globally renowned platform, then you could always download the Pokerstars Poker Client for free.

Read more in our guide to The Best Online Casinos.

The Best Tactics

When it comes to poker, we always give the same piece of advice but since we are talking about how to play poker tournaments, we have two for you:

Standard Poker Tournament

In case you are playing a standard tournament try going in only when you have at least a pair of 9’s or better at the pre-flop stage.

If you are still having just one pair after the flop, unless that is a really good one like a pocket (one pair of) A’s or K’s don’t go in.

You may even have two of the same suit. If that’s the case only go in if you are four-fifths of the way in a possible Flush, the same goes for a Straight.

Jackpot Poker Tournament

If you are playing a Jackpot tournament, where time is of the essence, you will have to adjust your play accordingly.

Instead of folding all the time do the exact opposite.

Play as aggressively as possible. Don’t let your opponents any breathing space.

This way you are going to push them into making bad decisions and chances are that you will be the one taking the prize.

Just so you know, in that kind of “tournaments” there are usually only three players. That is you and two opponents.


So now that you know how to play a poker tournament, you must be all set to become a professional poker player.

If you want to keep learning new things about online poker each week, then make sure that you follow our website.

That being said the only thing left for you to do now is to visit an online poker room, sign up for some of the available tournaments and start winning some money.

Read our guide to The Best Bitcoin Poker Tournaments.

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