One of the first decisions that poker players need to make after choosing their game of choice is whether they will focus on cash games or tournaments.
The former have the advantage of often payouts and lower volatility, but the latter present customers with the unique opportunity of scoring a major win with a minimal investment.
Those who choose tournaments will have plenty of different formats to contemplate, with each of them having inherent advantages of shortcomings.
Major live and online tournaments
These competitions bring together hundreds of players and sometimes the number of participants surges far beyond 1000. Both land-based and online competitions of this sort have guaranteed prize pools which are frequently exceeded and the buy-ins are sometimes prohibitive for newcomers.
The structure of main poker tournament implies that players spend a lot of time at the tables and patience is every bit as important as sheer skill.
These tournaments usually include the main event and several side events, to provide players with enough options based on their bankrolls and expectations. Professionals are usually focusing on the flagship competitions and only participate in a handful of side events to gear up for the leading tournament.
Texas hold ‘em is usually the game that brings most people together, which explains why so many tournaments revolve around it, both online and in brick-and-mortar casinos.
The differences between main and side events go beyond the buy-in, because the number of participants also differs greatly.
Flagship competitions are the ones that have more players and that’s why it is important to adjust your strategy and make sure that you survive long enough to make the money. In the early stages, players are advised to focus on premium hands and refrain from going all in with decently strong hands.
Coin flips are acceptable later on and when the bubble stage approaches, both side and made event players need to decide between two seemingly different approaches. They either take charge and try to push around short stackers, or patiently wait for these guys to be eliminated, so that their own position in the leaderboard improves.
The World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour are all shining examples of great live poker tournaments which have this structure. It all culminates with the main event, but in between players get to participate in side events or compete at nosebleed limits in highroller competitions.