Best Online Poker Sites for Tournaments

Which online poker rooms have the best tournaments and game selection?

While cash games keep poker rooms churning day in and day out, it's the tournaments that get all of the spotlight.  Whether it's the massive prizes for the top places, the appeal of being able to point to exactly what you've won or just the primal satisfaction that comes with being the last person standing in a contest, tournaments are for many people the only form of poker worth playing.

If you happen to be one of those people, or if you're just looking for a bit more information about what the best places to play poker tournaments are, you'll find plenty of useful information on this page.  We're going to cover the basics of poker tournaments online and then transition to identifying the most popular poker site destinations for online poker tournament players.

Multi-Table Tournaments Versus Sit and Go Tournaments

Online poker sites offer two distinct forms of tournament poker.  The first is generally referred to as Multi-Table Tournaments (or MTTs), and the second as Sit and Go tournaments (or SNGs).  MTTs are standard tournaments that begin at a set time, while SNGs are tournaments that begin play when a target number of players have entered.  The prize pool of MTTs varies based on the number of players that ultimately enter, while the prize pool of a SNG tournament is predetermined.  Finally, SNGs tend to have smaller fields than MTTs, and therefore tend to be much quicker affairs.

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How Many Different Types of Online Poker Tournaments are There?

Dozens, with new ones emerging all of the time.  You'll find tournament variants based on structure (from high blinds that increase quickly to small blinds that increase gradually), stack size (from starting stacks of just a few big blinds to stacks with hundreds of blinds), antes (from antes the whole game to none at all) and number of players per table (from heads up matches to full table games).

That's just the tip of the online poker tournament iceberg.  You could quite literally play a different type of tournament every day for several months without repeating a format at a major online poker room - and by the time you get to the end of the list, there's a good chance the room will have introduced some new forms in the meantime.

Standard Rake for Online Poker Tournaments

Rake can add up very, very quickly for tournament players - especially for SNG players.  That's why it's critical for new online poker players to educate themselves about what the rake is and what standard rake charges are.  For tournaments, the standard rake charge hovers around 10% at most online poker rooms.  This charge is usually expressed as the second number in the buy in of the tournament - a tournament with a buy in of $20+$2 has a $2 rake charge.

This makes surveying the rake for tournaments at an online poker room a quite simple task.  One needs to only open the poker room software and navigate to the tournament lobby; from there, a quick visual scroll through the buy ins will give you an accurate sense of the general rake charge a given room takes.

You should expect lower than 10% rake as the buy ins increase above $100 or decrease to $5 and under.  Additionally, keep in mind that the rake a room charges is only one-half of the equation; the rake returned to you via the room's VIP / Loyalty program is the other half.  Subtracting the rake you get returned via promotions and VIP programs from the overall rake you pay is how you determine your effective rake rate at a room.

Top-Ranked Site for Online Poker Tournaments

It gets a bit boring to continually shower praise on PokerStars, but there's a reason why the room is several times larger than their next few competitors combined - PokerStars is a very good online poker room.

This quality is especially apparent in the tournament lobby of PokerStars, where you'll find more action across the full spectrum of games and buy ins for MTTs and SNGs than at any other poker room online.  On top of the action, PokerStars also offers a generous VIP program and an array of promotions that are specifically designed to cater to tournament players, including monthly and yearly leaderboards for MTT and SNG players.  Those offerings, combined with reasonable starting rake charges, make PokerStars the smart choice for players looking not only to get in a little tournament action, but also to make a little profit while doing so.

Top-Ranked Online Tournament Option for US Players

For casual players from the US looking to try their hand at the occasional SNG or MTT at the lower end of the buyin spectrum, Bovada presents the most appealing option.  The room offers a steady stream of tournaments with buy ins under $50 at most times of day, and rewards tournament players far more handsomely than cash players.  Those rewards combine with a fair rake structure to make the cost of playing tournaments at Bovada quite reasonable by industry standards.

For serious tournament players from the US, there's simply no one option that will provide enough tournaments to fill a professional poker player's schedule.  Players from the US looking to construct a packed MTT or SNG schedule will have to piece together tournaments from a variety of rooms to do so.  Based on current MTT and SNG schedules and traffic levels, US players should find sufficient action via a combination of the tournaments available at Bovada, Carbon Poker and Lock Poker.

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