The Basics of Poker Tournaments

All players start a standard poker tournament with the same amount of chips. As play goes on, the compulsory blinds and antes increase at regular intervals, and when a player loses all of their chips, they are out of the tournament. The last player standing is declared the winner, and is rewarded with the biggest portion of the prize pool. The rest of the prize pool is distributed between a set number of players, depending on how many people entered the event. You can find payout information listed in the tournament lobby of any PokerStars tournament that has started running, along with the current status of the event. You can learn more by clicking the ‘Tournament Info’ button in the tournament lobby.

How to Play in a Tournament at PokerStars
You can find PokerStars tournaments listed in the lobby under the tabs labeled ‘Tourney’, ‘Sit & Go’ or ‘Events’. Selecting any of the listed tournaments allows you to find out everything you need to know, and also whether registration is open.

You’ll also notice that the list sorts each tournament by categories, such as the type of poker game (Texas Hold’em or Omaha, for instance), size of the buy-in and the structure. To register for a tournament, either double-click the tournament name or click ‘Tourney Lobby’. Both options will take you to the lobby for that tournament. If you want to register, simply click ‘Register’ (you will need to log-in if you haven’t done so already). Once you have successfully registered, you’ll be seated at your designated table a few minutes before the event is set to start.

Poker Stars tournament lobby
Game play
In all of our tournaments, each player is assigned a random seat and table. Just like in a live poker tournament, you aren’t allowed to choose a new seat. In Hold’em, Omaha or other tournaments with a rotating dealer, the dealer button will start on seat 1.

When the action is on you, your options are to either ‘call’, ‘raise’ or ‘fold’ (you may also have the option to ‘check’ or ‘bet’, depending on what has occurred before your turn). To ensure that the game flows at a constant speed, you are only given a certain amount of time to act (between 16 and 20 seconds, depending on the tournament). If you take too long, a reminder will appear in the chat box and you may also be given the option to activate the ‘Time Bank’. This gives you the option of gaining extra time in which to make your move.

Clicking on the ‘Info’ tab in the table window allows you to find out up-to-date information about the tournament – such as your current position and the average chip stack. You can also see specific information about the way you have been playing by clicking on the ‘Stats’ tab.

More detailed information about the tournament can be seen in the Tournament Lobby. Here you can find out about the current blind level, structure, progress and rankings of each player, prize pool payouts and more.

When a tournament is over, all prize winners will be sent an email by PokerStars, confirming what they have won. You can opt to not receive these emails by going to ‘Options’ in the main lobby and unchecking ‘Receive Congratulatory Emails’. If you want to see a detailed breakdown of how a tournament played out, go to ‘Requests’ in the menu bar in the main lobby, and select ‘Tournament History…’

It’s possible for anyone to observe any of the tables in a tournament that’s currently running, whether you are in the tournament or not. In the Tournament Lobby, simply select the table you want to watch and click ‘Observe Table’.

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