Usually Poker tournament play is played by the same general rules as other Texas Holdem’ Poker games with a few exceptions.
The buy-in amount for tournaments varies wildly. You might pay $100, or you can get into the high-end tournaments for around $10,000. You can play tournaments in person at Poker Events, or online at one of many websites.
When you buy in at a local event, you’ll get a bag of chips. You may start with 50,000 in chips, less, or more. The chips are not worth anything – you cannot cash them out if you store them until after the tournament is over! You’ll also get a table assignment.
If your luck has already begun, you’ll be seated with a bunch of fish!
If not, you could be sitting at a table of pros. Not the ideal way to start, but in tournaments, it’s funny, damn near anything can happen. Play conservatively with the pros and play your A-GAME and you may pull through that round.
There’s a time limit for the first round. You play whomever is at your table. Players with the least amount of money left at the end of the round are dropped and only the top players at that table continue at another table for round 2.
Multi-day Poker Tournaments require bagging up the chips you have and storing them at the event. You’ll get the same bag (hopefully!) when you return the next morning. Just a note here, because it has happened. If for some reason you get a bag of chips that has too many chips, tell someone immediately. You could be liable legally and go to court over it! A woman was given a bag for a higher level tournament, with more chips, and she didn’t tell anyone about it until later when tournament directors found out! She was in some deep doo-doo and lost a lot of credibility.
As you play, the blinds increase continually. This means it becomes more and more important to play smart because you can lose all your chips just paying blinds.
Tournament play should be approached differently. This isn’t like playing in your friend’s basement. This isn’t like playing at The Wynn with some regulars. Tournaments require quite a different style of play.
Learn how to approach playing Poker Tournaments here >
The biggest poker tournament in the world is the WSOP (World Series of Poker) tournament taking place every year during May/June/July at locations across the globe. In 2019 the WSOP started on 29 May and the final tournament started on July 15th. In 2018, the tournament had 123,865 players!
Players can be from countries outside the USA, but for winnings to be distributed your tax information needs to be correct. USA citizens have no problem, they just use their Social Security Numbers. Citizens playing from countries with tax treaties with the USA (Thailand is one) have to provide Tax Identification Numbers. WSOP staff can help winners file for these numbers, they don’t take long to receive and it can be done mostly or all by phone. Winners from countries without a tax treaty with the USA will forfeit 30% of winnings as tax.
WSOP Tournament Rules PDF (huge) >