The Philippines is a key venue for poker tournaments. Manila has hosted the Asian Poker Tour, World Poker Tour, and competitions run by Pokerstars, 888, and others. But as well as these headline main events, most online casinos that feature poker also run tournaments. We know our readers are keen to learn all there is to know about poker. So in this comprehensive guide, we’ll run through everything Philippino poker players need to know about competing in tournaments.

What Are Poker Tournaments?

A tournament is a competition in which players compete with each other for prizes. They can vary in size with some tournaments attracting thousands of entrants, and some just a few.

In the first round, a group of players join an online table. Each player has bought the same number of chips for their stack. Note that play is usually not for real pesos. This is a big difference from a cash game, where players are using real money. At this stage, tournament play is to see who gets eliminated from the game, at what stage. This ranking will later determine who gets tournament prizes, and how much they win.

Play begins, and players are gradually knocked out when they lose their chips. The winner proceeds to the next round, along with the winners from the other tables.

Online Poker Tournaments

How To Participate?

The poker tournament will be advertised in the online casino’s poker rooms. The player usually has to pay a “buy-in” to join the tournament. They then receive the tournament chips. Although no real money is allowed at poker tournaments, some tournaments do allow players to buy more chips if they need more.

Buy-in amounts vary according to the number of poker rooms the casino offers, and the fame of the tournament. In the World Series of Poker, the buy-in for the No Limit Hold’em main event was $10,000. But Philippino players can join poker tournaments for far more modest sums, in pesos, or the dollar equivalent.

Once a player has run out of chips, they are eliminated from the competition. The main event is the final play-off, where the best players meet and compete for the big prizes.

Although many poker tournaments require a buy-in, there are also “freerolls”. These have no entry fee and don’t allow chip purchases during the game.

poker tournaments

Playing Formats

There are many different types of tournaments. For example, Sit n Go tournaments don’t have a preset start time – they begin when enough players are registered. This type of tournament is very common in online poker rooms. Read on for more tournament types and procedures.


This is the commonest format in poker tournaments. When players run out of chips and are unable to buy more, they have to leave the table. In other words, they are frozen out of the game. In many competitions, there is a set period when players can buy more chips, after which the freezeout period begins. Poker tournament strategy usually advises more aggressive play until the freezeout begins, then more cautious play.


In some tournaments, players who run out of chips can buy more. This is called a “buy-back” or “re-buy”. The amount that players can buy is usually limited. Some poker rooms also have rules that only players with short stacks (a low number of chips) can re-buy. Others allow anyone to re-buy. The period when players can re-buy comes to an end at some point, and the elimination phase of the tournament begins.


Usually, in an online poker room, when players get eliminated during a tournament, the tables are rebalanced. This means that they all contain the same number of players. However, in shootouts, this doesn’t happen. In online poker tournaments, as players leave the table, the number of players reduces. This continues until there is just one winner. This is different from tournaments where the time at which the player was eliminated is used as the winning indicator.

Mixed Max

A mixed max competition is one in which the number of players at the tables varies over the duration of the tournament. In some World Series tournaments, tables had nine players on the first day. On the second day they had six. For the rest of the competition, the play was “heads-up” – just two players head to head at the main event.

online poker tournaments

Betting Formats

As play proceeds, the big and small blinds that players must put down get larger. This speeds up the elimination process. Betting formats follow the main wager types in non-tournament poker – players will find a quick reminder below.

Fixed Limit

In poker tournaments, as in cash games, a fixed limit means that players can only bet or raise a set amount. If the big blind is 100 pesos or dollar equivalent, then the next wager post-flop has to be 100 pesos. All subsequent raises during the game must also be 100 pesos. Note that the size of the blinds can rise during tournaments. That also increases the fixed limit wagers.

Pot Limit

In pot-limit poker tournaments, the players can only place a bet that is the same size as the pot. Similarly, they can only raise by an amount that is the same size as the pot. This can get a little complicated, as players have to calculate the size of the pot as it changes with the different wagers. Luckily, online poker rooms do the sums automatically, and players will see the current pot limit displayed on the screen.

No Limit

This means that there is no limit on the amount bet or the pot. PokerStars tournaments attract top players and their first No-Limit Hold’em tournament featured a $25,000 buy-in. As all players start with the same number of chips, a first-round “all-in” bet, might be worth the risk.

Poker Variants at Tournaments

Poker Variants at Tournaments

The great thing about playing online is that while there are a massive number of Hold ’em tables, players can easily find poker tournaments featuring their favorite poker variants. Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo tournaments are readily available. Those old favorites, 7 card stud, and 5 card draw can also be played as tournament competitions. Similarly, the Hold ’em variants are widely available. Players will also find tournaments for Chinese poker.

Winning Prizes

In poker tournaments, the players are competing for a share of the prize money. The chips are really just counters. The prize money is made up of the entrants’ buy-in, minus the rake – that’s the portion kept by the casino. The rake is usually about 10% of the total buy-in amount. The top winners, often the top three, usually share the prize money. But it pays to check the prize structure before buying into a tournament. The number of prizes depends on the number of entrants with large tournaments sometimes paying the top ten players.

Major Poker Tournaments Around The World

Here are some of the major online tournaments that Philippino players can join.

Pokerstars tournaments include the Sunday Million. This is the biggest weekly poker tournament in the world. The prize pool is a cool $1,000,000 with a top prize of around $100,000. It’s No-Limit Hold’em, and at the time of writing, the buy-in is $109. The Sunday Million is open to everyone.

888 poker tournaments feature “The Whale” once a month. The buy-in is currently $530 but the prize pool is accordingly bigger – $250,000.

Once in a season, Party Poker runs a poker tournament with a $1,000,000 prize pool. The buy-in is $640.

There’s A Tournament For Everyone

There are poker tournaments for every level of player, from the novice to the professional. Buy-in prices are high when the tournament has a large prize pool. But there are many more modest competitions. Players can win free tournament entry while playing other casino games. Or they can start with a freeroll tournament while they familiarise themselves with how tournaments work. And with a great choice of poker variants, bet types, and tournament formats, players will soon find their favorite tournaments.