There are many different poker tournaments in play at any one time. Each tournament will have fixed format with specific rules on things such as blinds, buy-ins, antes and more. It is therefore important to know exactly what the rules for that specific tournament are before leaping right in and joining it.
Free roll tournaments
One of the most commonly found online tournaments are the free roll tournaments. These are a perfect way to get some poker playing practice without necessarily spending too much money in the process. Many sites offer these on a regular basis, but usually only members of that particular site can join. To join players simply need to make a deposit or, in some cases, the entry is free if that is what the promotion entails.
For beginners, free roll tournaments are an excellent way to improve one’s game as it gives ample opportunities to watch how other players play. Beware though, as these types of tournaments will bring in all level of players. If a beginner overestimates their ability, they may find themselves leaving the tournament prematurely.
Some tournaments will be very specific to the type of poker being played. For example, some will focus on Texas Hold’em, others on Razz, Stud, Omaha or even HORSE. The really high-level tournaments such as the WSOP will feature all options, allowing a wide range of poker players to participate.
The final part of choosing a tournament is in the stakes. These will vary wildly between tournaments, with some starting at just 0.5 and others instantly at 500. The type of tournament you choose to partake in will therefore strongly depend on your skill level and also your bankroll. It is important that you never play to exceed either if you wish to do well in a tournament environment.
The dream of anyone who has played poker is to reach the final round. It does not matter whether you are a professional player pitting your skills at a World Series event, or an amateur who just plays a round with their buddies, reaching that round where you can go head to head in a final showdown is simply irresistible.
The question, then, is how does one attain the holy grail of poker, and better yet, how does one remain the last player standing, having beaten every other hand at the table? If you have come looking for answers, then read on…
Risk Is Your Best Bet
It is human nature to avoid risk and secure yourself in the comfortable warmth of caution. We are not saying to throw all caution out of the window, but you simply cannot win a poker tournament without a few bold moves. The strategy may seem counter-intuitive at first, but give it a good go and you are bound to see results.
The other reason why we encourage risk-taking, especially in the final round, is because the other players are most probably going to play it safe. That is the opportunity you need to seize on. Make it count. Think more about suited connectors and a little less about blinds and antes that will chip away at your stack. Remember: You do not need a high hand to win. But you will need a good strategy.
Make Strategy Your Style
One thing you definitely need to keep in mind is that the final round will have players with good hands or high-ranking hands. So, do not get into confrontations. Plan your strategy to maximize your chances of winning. At the least, you could even finish second or third, but still with a sizeable bankroll as winnings.
Poker may be the overarching name of the game, but within it there are a number of different variants available. Each type of poker showcases different skills, and requires players to learn slightly different rules, though the fundamentals – such as which hand is higher and the way the betting takes place – remain the same.
The most common form of poker is Texas Hold’em. This game achieved huge popularity through live showings of poker tournaments in the early 90s, and has remained the most popular option ever since. Its popularity is due in part to its relatively simple set-up and the more basic rules. However, there are a number of other variants that are just as much fun, many of which do not see such comprehensive coverage.
One such example is pineapple poker. This version is not often found, even at online casinos. It is very similar to Texas Hold’em in its dealing structure and the betting and blinds, but it is in the number of cards dealt that it deviates from the former. Each player is dealt three cards at the start instead of just two. The player then has to get rid of one of these cards before betting begins and the flop can be done. Even within this game there are slight variants, such as Lazy Pineapple and Tahoe Pineapple.
There are a number of other versions of poker, such as seven-card stud, razz, Omaha and more. In some tournaments these are combined to make the game HORSE, which is a combination of five of the main poker versions. This game serves to showcase the all-round skills of the players participating. Usually played near the end of a tournament to weed out the boys from the men, this can also be an entertaining game at home with more experienced friends.
The easiest way to differentiate between live and online poker is to think of one as real and one as virtual. One is played in a casino, where there is an etiquette to abide by, and chips and cards to be handled; the other is played from a computer or smartphone.
The essence of the game is the same across both platforms: you bet, you bluff, and a Royal Flush will beat a Two Pair every time. However, there are some notable differences that are being picked up on by the two communities. These include some of the following:
Bet Sizing – With online players being younger on average, it is harder for them to get together the initial cash needed to take part in a live game. On average, online games consist of players opening for 2 or 3x the big blind. In a live game it could go higher than 6x.
Access to Online Resources – Whether it’s in the form of training and tips or specialist software, this tech savvy generation can find ways to improve their game play that traditional live-poker players may not have considered.
Calling and Folding – With online players not having to physically face the humiliation of a big loss, it is easier to make a difficult call online.
Better Players – With no need to travel to the casino – and with access to games any time, any place – players flock to online games, resulting in the best players and therefore the greatest challenges often residing online. You can read more here about low challenges in live poker games as well as many other differences.
These are just four of the most noticeable differences between live and online poker, but there’s always more – the best way to get a better idea is to experience the game play both online and offline, and then make up your mind as to which suits you the best.
Gone are the days of the simple 5 Card Draw. Online Poker comes in all shapes and sizes.
Draw Poker covers all types of poker where a player can replace dealt cards with new ones they can draw from the deck. Evolving from traditional 5 Card Draw, other draw variants of are:
- 2-7 Triple Draw: this is a lowball game (meaning lowest hand wins) with three draws. Aces are high, meaning the best hand is 7-5-4-3-2.
- Badugi: in this game, the players are dealt four cards, and the aim is to avoid having any cards of the same suit or hitting a pair. Again, aces are low, so the best hand is A-2-3-4 in different suits.
In Texas Hold’em, each player is dealt two cards, called ‘hole’ cards. The dealer then draws more cards out face up, called ‘community’ cards. Before each draw there are betting rounds. First, the dealer puts three cards down face up (the flop). This is followed by further betting rounds, and the fourth card (the turn) and the fifth card (the river). After the river there is another draw.
The players can use one or both of their original cards, along with any of the five community cards, to make up their winning hand.
An unusual variant, Pineapple Poker has a ‘juicy twist’ at the beginning, which consists of players having to discard one of their original hole cards after the first round of betting.
Like Texas Hold’em, the player is dealt hole cards and community cards, but in this variant the player MUST use exactly two of their hole cards (out of four) and three of the community cards. Betting rounds occur at the same times as they would in Texas Hold’em.
Seven Card Stud
Players are dealt two cards face down, and the third through to the sixth cards face up, with the seventh face down again. The aim is to have the best five card hand. Razz is the lowball version of this particular poker game.
Poker is a game which is loved by millions of players all over the world. And whilst it’s a fun game to play, it’s also a game which needs to be properly understood if it is to be mastered. Understanding the probabilities of the different hands in poker is important so that you know if you have a good hand or not. The better the hand, the lower probability it would be to get that hand. Therefore if you do get that hand, you will be able to have a good idea what you should do with it (check, call/raise, call, fold, etc.)
The least likely hand you could get is a royal flush. This is seen as the ‘holy grail’ of poker hands and consists of cards of the same suit ranging from 10 all the way up to ace. The odds of getting this hand is incredibly unlikely – actually 1 in 649,740! Many poker players will go their whole poker playing lives without getting this hand. Therefore if you get this hand, you can rest assured you’re onto a winner.
In contrast, if you get a pair – for example if you get a five of hearts and five of diamonds – this is a very likely combination. The odds for this are quite low, only 1 in 1.28. Therefore, we can see that this really isn’t a great hand to have, and it’s pretty likely that at least somebody you are playing against in your game of poker will have a better hand.
Of course, learning the probabilities of poker hands is not the only thing you need to get good at poker, but it’s a good start. There are other things you need to learn too – such as how to be patient! Intuition is also something you’ll pick up when you play more and more poker. Good luck!