Poker as we know it today started in the 1800s in New Orleans and then quickly spread through the Mississippi River and Wild West Saloons. It then became popular in casinos in America, Europe and Asia. In more recent times, poker has transitioned into the mainstream game that is played online and in professional tournaments aired on TV worldwide. Although one of the world's most popular forms of gambling, poker is considered by many a major sport.
Online poker tournaments have become more accessible in recent years as more people want to play for a chance to win big prizes. In fact, all the best poker tournaments are now online, and competitions run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year!
As there are thousands of poker websites and apps, finding the right one is not always easy. This became more complex with the Ontario launch, which brought a plethora of regulated operators to play online poker in Ontario. Whether you are an experienced poker player or just starting with poker, you want to play and hone your poker strategy at the top sites. It is where we step in to help. Our team of poker experts at Gambling.com includes land-based and online poker players with decades of combined poker experience.
We wrote this comprehensive guide to poker tournaments covering the available tournaments and the best sites to play them. You will also find helpful information about the top online poker operators, bonuses, and game variants.
Check out our list of the best online poker sites and start playing in minutes!
Looking for the best online poker tournaments is never easy because there are so many poker sites to choose from. Randomly selecting a website to play poker is risky and could end with a bad experience. Our online poker tournament reviews give you the best chance to choose the best site! We only recommend the best poker sites for tournaments, so you get access to the top competitions.
Our expert reviewers rank poker sites based on game selection, security, bonuses, tournaments, and overall quality.
Before recommending a poker tournament site to you, our expert team reviews the operator to ensure it meets our strict criteria:
Bonuses are a common part of the online casino world, but finding the best deals is not always easy. When we review an online poker site, our reviewers check the available bonuses, including welcome promotions, free spins, and no deposit bonus offers. By choosing one of the top poker tournament sites, you will get lucrative bonuses that give you more money to play with and hopefully win.
When you sign up to a poker site, you share some of your personal and financial information. Privacy and security are paramount. So when we review a poker site, we check it offers security features like encryption and privacy policies. Our recommendations also provide stellar customer support and multiple points of contact.
If you're reading this guide, there's a good chance you want to play in online poker tournaments and want access to as many competitions as possible. Our poker expert team has played in countless poker tournaments and know how to find the best available. Each site we select provides a wide variety of tournaments across budgets and poker variants.
We understand that there are many different types of poker players, and each has his/her own budget and risk preferences. Therefore, it is essential to show you tournament sites with a range of buy-ins, making it easy for high-rollers and budget players to play games that can help boost their online poker strategy.
There are poker players that just want to join a poker table and not bother with a tournament structure and rules. Others may be short on time and don't wish to wait for a tournament to start. Sometimes, poker can be more exciting if you strip it to the core and play a few quick rounds for cash. Therefore we also look at the poker cash game variety for every poker operator we review.
While most people think of poker as Texas Hold'em or Omaha, there are many variations of this gambling classic. Finding for you different poker variants is our job, which is why our reviewers spend hours scouring poker sites to find the ones that have the best selection of poker variations.
As poker is a community game, the size of the player community is crucial. The larger the player pool, the more tournaments will be offered, and the bigger the prizes will be. Online Poker tournaments must attract a lot of players to be exciting. Therefore, we will always look at the player pool size before recommending you a poker tournament site.
Poker operators use different types of software to power their sites and apps. Beyond the software, some poker operators offer a standalone site with their own community of players, while others are part of a poker network. These factors make a significant impact on your poker experience.
Therefore, our reviewers have played hundreds of different poker sites across many networks. We know the best network operators and software developers and highlight the poker sites that provide the best experience.
We test the signup process for each site we review. Joining an online poker site should be simple and take minutes, which is why our selected top poker operators all have a quick sign up methods.
Online poker is becoming popular, even amongst casual players looking for a new form of entertainment. Not everyone is an expert poker player, and many beginners want to take part in tournaments. Luckily, our list of the best online poker sites includes operators with tournaments for all skill levels.
We know all the best features to look for when playing in an online poker room. Our reviewers look for features that allow players to make quick bets, calls, and other actions, player notes to track opponents, and basic statistics. We also look for sites that provide poker resources and tools that enable players to practice the game and improve their poker strategy. While these additional features are not always offered as a standard, they enhance your online poker experience and enable you to become a better poker player.
While there are different variants of poker tournaments (which we discuss below), there are two variations that are the most popular, and serve as base for most tournament structures:
Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs) are very common at online poker sites. Once you buy in and receive your stack of chips, you will play until those chips are gone (unless the tournament has a re-buy option). As the name suggests, MTTs take place over numerous game tables, each with a specific number of players.
When some players exit the tournament by losing their chips and numbers dwindle, tables are consolidated and players are assigned to other tables. MTTs are usually multi-day events with a considerable number of players participating. That makes them hard to win, but they often have massive prize funds available. Sometimes, prizes can run into millions of pounds.
While MTTs take inspiration from land-based poker tournaments, Sit & Gos are a staple of the online poker world. They remain a popular alternative to MTTs because they are faster paced and require fewer participants.
A Sit & Go tournament can consist of just one or two tables. Once seats fill, the tournament will commence. Because they are smaller, prize funds tend to be smaller as well, and it may be easier for you to win a Sit & Go competition. When playing at an online casino site, you’ll see Sit & Go tournaments starting regularly, with competitions opening many times each hour.
Rebuy online poker tournaments blend with other competition types, such as MTTs, to allow players to buy their way back into a game if they lose a certain amount of chips. For example, if you enter a rebuy tournament with 10,000 chips, you can re-buy when you drop below the designated chip limit. One caveat for this is the poker site usually imposes a rebuy period, which is a timeframe within which you can get more chips.
Sometimes review sites will combine rebuy and reentry tournaments, but the reality is the two are different. Rebuy tournaments allow you to purchase more chips when your stack drops below a specific limit, whereas reentry tournaments only allow you to buy more chips when you are completely bust. A reentry tournament also treats you as a new player when you buy more chips, which means you get a new table seat.
One of the benefits of online poker is it moves faster than land-based games. Still, sometimes you may want to take the pace up another notch, which is where Turbo Poker tournaments help. These are standard versions of other tournaments, such as MTTs or Sit & Gos, but sped up to make the game move faster. Blind levels increase more rapidly, resulting in faster games. GGpoker has one of the best selections of Turbo online poker tournaments held each day.
Most of the top online poker operators hold poker events that have a guaranteed prize pool. It means the money is available to win will always be available each time the tournament is held, regardless of the number of players who participate. Arguably the most famous of these guaranteed tournaments is the PokerStars Sunday Million. Don't let the name fool you. The prize fund for this competition is now running into multi-millions.
Nothing is quite as sweet in the online gambling world as free money. Who doesn't want to play and potentially win without spending any money? That’s a poker tournament strategy we all can get on board with. Freerolls are online poker tournaments that require no buy-in but still pay out cash prizes to winners. If you are a loyal player at a poker site, you may get an invite to a free tournament as a thank you for your support.
Some poker gamblers often claim they are shut out of online games because they want to bet with high stakes. Others in the online realm complain they never get a realistic land-based tournament experience. So, what about if you get a blend of both and can still play online? That’s satellite poker tournaments, which allow you to play in low buy-in games against other players to earn entry into a higher-priced game. Those higher games will be high-stakes tables online or at a land-based casino.
When you play a Bounty Tournament at an online poker site, you will receive an additional reward for eliminating another player. It can be a specific player, or all players have a bounty placed on them. So there's extra cash up for grabs regardless of the tournament winner. Ladbrokes Poker has frequent bounty poker games that add a different dynamic to a poker game.
Step Tournaments are held at single tables, but you can win from a prize pool that extends beyond the table you are playing at. Each game you play is considered a step in the tournament. By winning a step, you will progress to another level with a higher buy-in and prize. Unlike Satellite tournaments, you can buy into any phase/step of the tournament.
Shootouts combine multi-table tournaments (MTT) and single-table (SNG) tournaments. Does that sound confusing? Well, it's not as complicated as it appears. Shootout tournaments have several SNGs happening at the same time. Each table plays down to a single winner instead of moving players to other seats like in MTTs. Each winner moves on to another table until the final SNG is played.
Some SNG tournaments and MTTs at real money live poker sites are also Deepstack competitions. It means players start the tournament with a stack of chips that is larger than standard events.
The ideal number of poker players at a table will range between 6 to 9 players. However, as players get knocked out during a tournament, the table size can change. During a poker tournament, the event organizer reserves the right to change the number of players at each table. Reasons for doing this include mixing up the game, putting evenly matched players together, or simply organizing tables more efficiently.
Heads Up poker is played between two single players. It can be part of a wider game session where the tournament will be breaking up into two-player duels or in an event where only two players remain at the table after the others have been eliminated. Sometimes, two poker players will join a table and start playing heads-up while waiting for the table to fill up with more players.
Spin & Go tournaments are super-charged, faced-paced Sit & Gos. These tournaments feature a hyper-turbo structure, starting stacks of 500 chips, high stakes and random prize pools that can reach even 12,000x your buy-in.
Knockout Poker is a riff on the multi-table tournament that is another name for Bounty poker. Players have a bounty on their head, and knocking them out will guarantee you a cash prize. Therefore, as the name suggests, the aim at Knockout Tournaments is to maximize your chip stack and eliminate opponents.
When you choose one of the online poker tournament sites from our list, you will get a wide choice of safe and secure payment methods that will allow you conveniently make deposits and withdrawals:
Real money online poker tournaments differ significantly from live tournaments at a physical casino. Beyond the main difference of not needing to attend the poker venue in person, players at online tournaments lose the ability to read their opponents' body language and use their own as part of their game strategy. On the other hand, online poker players have at their disposal various online tools such as opponents statistics, hand tracking and more. To sum up, playing poker online and in live tournaments each provides a unique experience, so why not try both?
Almost every poker player loves playing cash games now and then. Still, even these die-hard cash players understand that the real money is usually earned during tournament play. Moving from online cash games to the best poker tournaments gives you the chance to win lucrative prizes, so here are some things to consider:
While hundreds, if not thousands of real money online poker tournaments held each week, some are more prominent than others. Here are some of the most famous online poker tournaments in the world:
PokerStars WCOOP or the 888poker XL Series are examples of some of the best online poker tournament sites, although there are many other examples. To find the best tournaments at top poker websites, check out our list of recommended sites.
You can enter online poker tournaments at any of the online poker sites we recommend by signing up, depositing money, and choosing a tournament to enter.
Times vary depending on the type of tournament, the rules of the competition, and the online poker site that is hosting the event. MTTs can last from a few hours to a few days, but you can find Sit & Go tournaments that are don't last as long.
Yes, you can win money when playing poker tournaments online. In fact, you can win large sums of money as famous tournaments have massive prize funds. Of course, you'll have to defeat all the other players aiming for the prize if you are to win.
Different buy-ins depend on the tournament you choose to play in. Some competitions will have accessible buy-ins that attract a wide range of players, while others may cater exclusively to high rollers with expensive buy-ins.
You can find the best online poker tournaments by checking our list of reputable poker sites in Canada. We recommend only the top sites that provide security, have a full licence, deliver different poker variations, and have frequent and lucrative tournaments. While at it, don't forget to claim a generous bonus to get you started at the tables.