The Game Of Texas Hold’Em

Texas Hold’Em in a Cardroom

Texas Hold’Em Online

Winning poker



Putting It all together

Psychological Considerations

Where to go from here

Places to Play

Appendix I Hold’Em poker Variations

Appendix II Poker Tournaments


Poker tournaments have been growing in popularity. Hold’em poker, because it has been a faster-paced game than Stud, has been a favorite for tournament play. Many of the cardrooms that have been listed in Chapter 10 have offered tournaments as wellas ‘live’ or ‘ring’ games.

A ‘live’ or ‘ring’ game has referred to the kind of game described in this book, where all the chips that have been used have had a cash value. In a poker tournament, the chips issued have had no cash value, but there had been cash prizes at the end for the winners.

Should you contact a cardroom, you should inquire about the tournament structures and schedules. You should check out the links to online cardrooms that have also been listed in Chapter 10 to see what Internet tournaments are being offered. A detailed discussion of tournament play and strategies would be beyond the scope of this book, but these events are becoming so popular, you should know what a poker tournament is.

For poker players, tournaments have offered high entertainment value for a fixed dollar  amount that has been paid up-front. Many tournaments have had modest buy-ins (less that $100), which has meant that for beginners, they have offered a low-risk venue for learning the game.  The object of the tournament has been to determine a winner who would have been  awarded  a cash prize that had been formed from the entry fees. Rarely has one person  taken all the cash.

Normally, there have been prizes for the various runner-ups (2nd, 3rd, and so on). Poker tournaments have been analogues in many ways to chess tournaments that for  decades have used cash prizes to attract chess players.

Sid has first explained the concept of tournament chess, as a chess tournament would be easier to understand. Each entrant in a chess tournament would have to pay an ‘entry fee.’ From the pool of money, which would be created by the entry fees, a cut would go to the organizers for running the event, but the bulk of the money would become a prize fund that would be awarded to the winners. The entrants would play a series of scheduled and timed chess games. Poker players who will exceed their allotted time to make their moves will automatically forfeit game.

After each round of games, the winners would be paired against winners so that the number of players with perfect scores would reduce by half each time. Usually the pairing process will result in a single perfect score or a small group of people tied  with nearly perfect scores who will share the prize money. Poker tournaments have been financed in the same way as chess tournaments. The entrants have had to pay a fee up-front that has formed the prize fund and paid the  organizers. Each entrant has been issued a fixed amount of chips to play with that have had no cash value.

All entrants had started play together with the same number of chips. The winner had been the person who at the end had accumulated all the chips. The problem had become how to structure a game so that, like a chess tournament, on a timed and scheduled basic, winners had been forced to play winners and losers were forced out. To force losing poker players out, the betting stakes had continually increased, either at regularly scheduled time intervals or after a specified number of hands. If you hadn ’t won chips, the escalating stakes had made it more difficult to stay in the game.

For instance, suppose at the start you had been issued $500 of chips and play had started at $5/10. With $500 to start and only $5 blinds to pay, you could have sat at the table for many hours without playing a hand. However, in a tournament stakes had risen as time had passed. Each poker tournament has had its own schedule for upping the stakes. For instance: stakes had started at $5/10, and then a half-hour later the stakes could have become $10/20, then in another half-hour $20/40, followed by $40/80 and so on.

With this kind of doubling, players who had sat tight with their chips, or lost them, would eventually had been forced all-in just to cover their blinds. As time had gone on, only the winners would have had enough chips to keep playing. Those who had been forced to go all-in and lost had been eliminated from play. Some tournaments have allowed ‘re-buys’ in the early stages of play, other had not. If you had chosen to re-buy, you would have had to pay additional money for a second set of chips to continue play.

Obviously, luck would have had more to do with poker tournament outcomes than it would the results of ring games. The degree to which luck had been a factor had depended on how fast the stakes had escalated. You would have to imagine an extremely fast schedule where the stakes would increase every ten minutes. Those who had been lucky enough to be dealt winning poker hands in the first few minutes would have had an advantage. But if the scheduled escalation had been over a period of hours, the tournament would have become more like live poker with the better players accumulating more chips over the long run.

Because of the time pressure, success at tournament poker has required more aggressive play and a different strategic mind set than live poker. Several books specific to tournament strategies have been available.

Some recent titles would be:

Tournament Poker for Advanced Players, David Sklansky, Two Plus Two Publishing (2002).

Tournament Poker, by Tom McEvoy, cardsmith Publications (2000).

Poker Tournament Strategies, Sylvester Suzuki. Two Plus Two Publishing (1997).

The Secret to Winning Big in Tournament Poker, Ken Buntjer, Red Rose Publishing (1995).

You could also purchase tournament simulation software such as Tournament  Texas Hold’em for Windows, by Wilson Software, which would be available from ConJelCo  –

Because poker tournaments have been structured so differently from like games, practice with a software simulation before actual play has been a valuable exercise.

The most famous poker tournament has been the annual World Series of Poker, in which anyone who has been willing to pay the $10,000 buy-in could have played for the World Championship.

The event has been held annually in May at Binions Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. For more information, you could go to

Success at qualifying tournaments would not be required, which it normally would be for  championship tournaments in most other games.

The poker variant that has been used to determine the World Champion of Poker has been No-limit Texas Hold’em.