Poker Tournament Formats

clubsIn addition to offering a multitude of high and low-dollar online poker tournaments, sites like PokerStars also provide players with a variety of tournament formats, varying from traditional multi-table events, to fast-paced “double or nothing” games where you only need to defeat half the field to double your buy-in amount.

Below is a list of the different types of poker tournaments offered online, as well as descriptions explaining how each is run.

SIT & GO Tournaments

Sit and Go tournaments are extremely popular with online poker players because each event begins as soon as the participant quota is filled. Ranging anywhere from heads-up games to multi-table tournaments, Sit and Go’s afford you the luxury of jumping into the action without having to wait around for an official start date. There are a variety of Sit and Go Tournaments held throughout the day, so don’t worry if you miss your chance to sign up. As soon as a tournament kicks off registration for a new one begins.

Double or Nothing

As the name suggests, these single-table tournaments offer you a chance to double your buy-in amount if you can outlast half the field. Finish in 1st through 5th and you double your cash, bail out in 6th through 10th and your opponents walk away with your buy-in.

Steps or Ladder Tournaments

Steps or ladder games allow you to buy-in on the ground floor for little money (or using frequent player points), and then gradually work your way up through stages or tiers where you can earn big bucks!

Multi-table Tournaments

The most common type of online poker tournament, multi-table events begin with an equal number of chips given to each player, and conclude when one player remains (unless the event is a qualifier or satellite that awards the top prize or entry to more than one player). Multi-table tournaments can have fields that range from a few dozen, to several thousand players (such as the World Series of Poker). Tip:

During multi-table events you will often be shipped around from table to table. Each time you move from one table to the next sit a few hands out and study your opponents. It’s a good idea to gauge the action and get a read on the players and their betting strategies before you dive into the game.


Shootout tournaments are similar to multi-table events with one major exception; you must win your table before you can move on. Each table is a tournament in itself, where the last player standing moves on to compete with the remaining table winners until a final table is reached.


Satellite tournaments allow you to play your win into high stakes events, such as the World Series of Poker, without spending a fortune. Satellites can be entered for as little as a few cents or a single frequent player point, but can lead to huge pay days!

Rebuy Tournaments

Get knocked out early on a bad beat? No problem. Rebuy tournaments allow you to buy back into the event during extended registration that remains open for a set period after the tournament begins.


Turbo tournaments offer fast-paced action because the blinds increase much quicker than in normal events. In turbos, the action is forced quicker opening the door for any type of player, beginner or pro, to come out on top. Turbo tournaments are also ideal for players who don’t have the time or the patience to play in multi-table events, which can often last for hours.