Poker Tournament Types

Poker is one of the most well-known casino games and the chances are that you’re familiar with at least one variation of the game. Whether it’s round the kitchen table with friends, at the casino, or online, there are multiple ways in which poker can be enjoyed. Those who wish to test their skills against the competition can do so at a number of poker tournaments. But this begs the question, how many poker tournament types are there?

This helpful guide will give you the lowdown on online and live poker tournaments, explaining the different formats that you can take part in. By the time we’re through, you’ll be a bona fide expert!

What are Poker Tournaments?

A poker tournament is a fixed format, structured event where every aspect of the game has been predetermined. This includes the buy-in, the blind sizes, the stacks, and the time limit, and the different variations of these factors tend to determine the poker tournament types you’re playing in.

Generally speaking, you enter a tournament with the aim of winning the pot, not just for fun. Play continues until only one person is left with chips, and the prize money is distributed in accordance with the predetermined structure. Luckily, the same is true of online poker tournaments!

Freezeout Poker Tournaments

Most, if not all poker tournaments fall into this format. Essentially, a freezeout tournament means that once all of your chips have been depleted, you’re out of the tournament, with no option for a rebuy or re-entry. Most major upcoming poker events will be played in a freezeout format.


As the name suggests, these poker tournaments types allow players to buy back into the game once all of their chips have gone. This is perfect for players on a bad run, as it gives them a second bite of the cherry, though if they bust again, they’re out for good. It’s important to remember that in online and live poker tournaments, a rebuy is only permitted in the early stages.

Turbo & Super Turbo

In a turbo tournament, the blind sizes increase much faster than in traditional poker tournament types. For example, in a normal game, the blinds will increase every 15 minutes or so, but in a turbo tournament, the blinds will increase every five minutes. Equally, if you’re playing in a super turbo format, the blinds will increase even faster. These types of poker tournaments require a unique tactical approach, with a focus on aggressive play to avoid losing all of your chips to the blinds.

Guarantee Poker Tournaments

A guarantee tournament is the preferred choice for most high-level poker players as the prize money is guaranteed, regardless of the number of players. If you entered a £100,000 GTD event, that amount of money will be divided amongst the winners at the end of the tournament. Conversely, if there is no guaranteed prize pool, the winnings are only made up of the buy-ins, which could be underwhelming for the winner.


What if there are upcoming poker events that you want to get into but you can’t afford the buy-in – what do you do? The answer: you enter a satellite tournament! In essence, winning a satellite earns you a seat at a larger tournament for a fraction of the price, lowering the risk factor. For instance, Betsson runs satellite events for entry into high-value poker tournaments.

Bounty Hunter

In bounty hunter poker tournaments, you pay a slightly bigger buy-in, a portion of which becomes your bounty. If you or any other player are knocked out of the tournament, the bounty is paid to the player that delivered the final blow. For example, if every player has a £25 bounty and you knock an opposing player out, you receive £25. The main draw of bounty hunter formats in live or online poker tournaments is that you can make money without having to win the tournament.


This one is rather self-explanatory as far as poker tournament types go – a freeroll event is free to play. Unlike most other poker tournaments, there is no buy-in, however, some online and live poker tournaments may require you to have played a certain amount of competitive hands in their respective poker rooms in order to qualify. Freeroll games are a great opportunity to learn the nuances of poker without a large money stake.

Deep Stack

A favourite among poker players, in a deep stack tournament players start with a larger chip stack, meaning that there is more leverage with which to play the game. Additionally, blinds tend to remain the same for longer, meaning that games are significantly longer. This is a great option for those looking to enjoy the game for as long as possible!

Timed Poker Tournaments

As the name suggests, in these poker tournaments players have a limited amount of time (usually just five minutes) to build up their chip stacks. Once the time is up, the prize pool is divided among the remaining players with the largest stacks. Because of this, it’s important to play aggressively in order to win as many chips as possible before the clock runs out!


Shootouts are most common in live poker tournaments. The table plays until there is only one player left, who then joins a final table where all of the winners face-off for the prize. This is different from a phased poker tournament as all of the rounds are completed in a single session, rather than across multiple days.

Now that you’re fully informed of all of the different poker tournament types, why not play a few hands online or at a live event and see which type is right for you?