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Poker Tournament

Interested in playing in a poker tournament? Read on.

Poker players of any skill level may play in a poker tournament. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Poker players of any skill level may play in a poker tournament.

Regardless of experience or skill level, anyone can play in a poker tournament. There are more than 60 million poker players in the United States and over 100 million players worldwide, which is greater than the number of people who play golf, tennis or billiards. Whether an aspiring tournament player or a seasoned veteran, poker players can enter several live and online tournaments to improve their game, earn great prizes and move up the ranks.

About Tournaments

In multi-table poker tournaments, each player starts with a set number of chips. The goal is to win all the other competitors' chips. In the beginning of the tournament, each player is assigned a table. Typically, nine players are assigned to a table, although this number can vary based on the number of entrants. Once a player loses all his or her chips, the player is eliminated. As players are eliminated, tables are "broken," meaning that individuals are moved to other tables to keep the same number of players at each table. This is referred to as keeping tables "balanced." As players are eliminated, a winner emerges at each table and is moved to the final table to compete for the grand prize. The player who wins all the chips from his or her opponents at this table wins. Cash prizes are awarded to those who finish near the top based on the number of players in the tournament. Types of poker tournaments include the following:

Shootout: A shootout is a special kind of multi-table poker tournament. In a shootout, tables aren't balanced as they are in regular multi-table tournaments. Instead, every competitor remains at the same table until one person has won all the chips at that table. After winning his or her table, a competitor moves onto another table to compete against other players who have won their tables. In a double shootout, every player needs to win two tables to win the event. Typically, cash is awarded to every player who makes it to a second table. In a triple shootout, every player needs to win three tables to win the event. Again, cash prizes are often awarded to players along the way as they win each table.

Satellite tournaments are a great way for poker players to move up the ranks into larger, more prominent tournaments. In a satellite tournament, the prize is entry into a larger tournament. Typically, entering a satellite tournament is less expensive than entering a larger tournament. Depending on the entry fee and number of players, a satellite tournament may advance several players to a larger tournament. Satellites are a great option for poker players who are interested in competing in bigger tournaments but who are not willing to pay the often hefty entry fee. The entry fee for a satellite is usually small and allows players to work their way up the ranks.

Freerolls: Freerolls are free poker tournaments that award cash prizes. Limitations may be placed on who can enter these tournaments, however. Some freerolls are only open to players from certain countries. The World Poker Association has a complete list of poker tournament rules on its Web site. Novice players should familiarize themselves with these rules before attempting to participate in tournaments.

Where to Play

With the advent of online gambling, players can play in poker tournaments from the comfort of their own home. By accessing reputable Web sites, poker players can win great cash prizes and move up the ranks through online poker play. The largest online poker community is PokerStars, which has more than 14 million players worldwide and 100,000 poker tournaments per day. Each month, PokerStars awards more than $400 million in cash prizes and vacation giveaways. The company also set the Guinness World Record for hosting the largest online poker tournament in December of 2008 -- it had 35,000 players competing simultaneously. PokerStars is also the official sponsor of the European Poker Tour, the Latin American Poker Tour, the Asia Pacific Poker Tour and the World Cup of Poker.

Other reputable online poker tournament Web sites include TitanPoker, Full Tilt Poker and Pacific Poker.

Individuals who are not interested in playing virtual poker tournaments can enter a number of live poker tournaments in casinos around the world. The two largest live tournaments are the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker.

World Poker Tour

The World Poker Tour is a series of weekly Texas hold'em poker tournaments on cable television. The show, which is syndicated internationally, is sponsored by casinos and online poker Web sites. Debuting in 2002, the show is now one of the highest rated on cable television. Anyone willing to pay the tournament entry fee is eligible to play, whether he or she is an amateur or a professional. Players can also gain entry by participating in any of the World Poker Tour satellite tournaments or can qualify by playing in online satellite tournaments.

The World Series of Poker

The World Series of Poker is the most popular set of poker tournaments in the world. It takes place annually in Las Vegas, Nevada, and lasts over a month. When it began in 1970, it had very little press coverage or participation. Over the years, however, it has grown into the richest event in the sports world and attracts many high-profile players. Winners are awarded gold bracelets and huge cash prizes. In 2006, the grand-prize winner, Jamie Gold, took home 12 million dollars -- a larger payout than Wimbledon, the Kentucky Derby and the Masters tournament combined. In 2007, the World Series of Poker attracted a record number of players. The main event of the show is a $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold'em tournament. The World Series of Poker Circuit is a series of tournaments around the world for amateur and professional players attempting to win cash prizes and a chance to participate in the World Series of Poker tournaments in Las Vegas.

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