Comparing The Poker Tournaments On Offer At The Biggest And Best Online Poker Sites
Big Update: Things keep changing in the world of online poker, and so I refresh articles like this one to keep up. The biggest change here is to remove the US sites from the list and have these in their own Best Site for US Online Poker Tournaments article instead. There are also some changes in the recommendations. I no longer feel PokerStars are the best recommendation for amateur / recreational players - there are so many easier games to be found elsewhere to make it worth battling with armies of smaller stakes tournament pros these days. 888 has emerged from the pack as a serious tournament destination - I recommend that you check them out for yourself soon.
You will be surprised just how different the poker tournaments at different online poker sites can be. Not only the buy-ins and game variations on offer, the speed of the games and (importantly) the skill level of your average opponents will vary considerably.
This article cuts through the sound bites and cliches. Instead the tournament offerings are compared from the perspective of players who want to improve their game as well as build that bankroll with some final tables... While there is little argument that Pokerstars is the biggest and the best in terms the huge number tournaments they offer, there are some drawbacks and great reasons you might want to play elsewhere - and this article explains them.
As always, reader feedback is welcome and will help to shape this and the other 'best' guides here at SNG Planet, you will find contact details from the footer of each page!
Comparing Poker Tournaments At The Biggest And Best Online Poker Sites - Pros And Cons
Sweet Spot of Easy Games + Big Choice
Several Themes (Fish / Mega / Live etc)
$88 Free BonusTo Try Out The Games
Holdem / Omaha Only
Focus on Smaller / Mid Buy-Ins
Easy Fields With Many Novice Players
Cool Promos, Lots Of Extra Bonuses
Many Entertaining Variations
Hard To Multi-Table Similar GamesToo Many Turbos!
Softest Tournaments Anywhere Online
Nicely Balanced SelectionGreat Promotions / Benefits
No Mobile Client
Only Standard Structures
Cool Site, With Many Smaller Field Tourneys
Big Guarantees For A Smaller Site!
Less Choice Than At Bigger Sites
Gap In The Mid-Range Buyins
Biggest Choice Of Tournaments Online
Top Rated SoftwareHuge Guarantees - Big Prizes)
Big Fields = Very Long Games
Pro Grinders Above Lowest Levels
Below you will find more detail on what is on offer at the major poker sites – rather than linking to each of the detailed reviews individually, I will mention here that my Best Online Poker Sites section has a detailed review and a SNG specific review of each site + lots of game-specific and comparison articles too.
Best Site for Online Poker Tournaments – 888 Poker
For me, gambling giant 888 hits that poker tournament ‘sweet spot’.
This site is huge, offering a wide range of tournaments from small stakes through to big guarantees and live event qualifiers you will not find anywhere else. At the same time they cater for a recreational and amateur crowd – rather than the ‘small stakes pros’ which infest the tables at sites like PokerStars. This ensures that the games are easy to beat – and often very entertaining too.
888 is so confident you’ll enjoy their games that all new players get $88 in cash game and tournament buy-ins to try them out. This comes in $8 increments, no deposit or credit card information needed (terms apply).
What I like best about these games is that the mid buy-in evening events are a reasonable size. Instead of battling through 1000’s of opponents, the fields are measured in the 100’s. There is plenty of variety (albeit focused on Holdem and Omaha), including knockouts, turbos and rebuy events.
Here are some of the highlights in the 888 Poker Tournament Lineup
- The ‘Fish’ Tournaments: These are the Goldfish ($1 buy-ins), Blowfish ($5), Catfish ($12) and Swordfish ($30) games. Several of each every day with guaranteed prize pools for players with different bankroll levels.
- The ‘Mega’ Series: This refers to the stack size (5000 chips) rather than the buy-ins. There are mega tournaments at the micro level right up to $215. The advantage here is that you will get plenty of play for your buy-in.
- High Roller Tournaments: You can win seats in the biggest tournaments (such as the ‘Whale’ at $600) by playing in qualifier games. These ensure that players with all different bankroll sizes get a shot at the serious money.
- Live Event Satellites: This is a real strong suit at 888 Poker. Live events range from the World Series in Las Vegas to smaller ($600 for example) buy-in events around Europe. Prize packages usually include travel and accommodation money too. You can work your way up a ladder of live qualifier tournaments from just a few cents.
These are just some of the themes running through the schedule – which is a lot more detailed than this. If you enjoy lower to mid-range buy-in games then you can easily find several tournaments starting at similar times.
888 have been growing fast while other poker sites stagnate – there are some good reasons for this, and if you have not yet discovered them for yourself then I strongly recommend you check out those super-soft tournament games soon.
Oh, and you’ll get up to $88 free bonus to check out the games with, no credit card info needed!
See www.888poker.com for more.
Best Site For Poker Tournaments – Pokerstars.com
Biggest by a long way, the lure of Pokerstars' huge selection of games is hard to resist. In fact, most poker players will end up playing on this site at some point in their careers. What you need to keep in mind is that a lot of smaller stakes pros 'grind' the tournaments here. These people play 12+ games at once, using software to display stats on opponents (like you!) to decide the best action. These players are beatable, though they suck both the profit and the enjoyment from the games. It has got to the point in 2017 where you'll find half of the field are 'pro grinders' in games like the 180 Sit N Goes.
If you are a recreational player who enjoys smaller buy-in tournaments for fun (and hopefully the occasional final table!), then there are better sites to choose from nowadays, see 888 above for more on this.
If you really 'need' a high volume of games or are seeking the biggest buy-ins, then PokerStars still has a lot to offer.
When you first click on the 'Tourney' tab at Pokerstars you will be faced with an overwhelming list of games – all color coded and ranging from the smallest buyins of < $1 through to the majors $162 to $215 and beyond this too. When we break down what is on offer you will find:
180 and Steps and Satellite Qualifier SNGs: These games are not scheduled, and will start when the required number of players join – many of them are 'Stickied' at the top of the tournament lobby view.
Smaller Buy Ins: The $1 To $11 buy-ins often attract fields in the 1000's, and with late registration the field can often double after the start. This means huge prizes (often with guarantees) and games which last for many hours.
Games / Variations: Literally too many to list, Omaha, Stud, Mixed Games, knockout bounty, (new) time tournaments, rebuys, turbo blinds, 1 rebuy / 1 addon, 2x and 3x turbo, satellites, zoom poker tournaments, phase (2-day) tournaments, different tables sizes and so on... you are literally spoiled for choice!
Mid Buy-Ins: A nice selection in the $22+ range, these often have 5-figure guarantees and stand out from most other sites in that 1000+ fields (or at least many 100's) are common.
Higher Buy-Ins: An easy number 1 choice for the $100+ games, with these running every day. Sunday majors are huge at Stars with a list of 6 of them – crowned by the week's biggest poker tournament, the Sunday Million.
Satellites: Qualifiers for live or online events are also huge at Pokerstars, these take many formats too, including sub-qualifiers for smaller bankroll poker fans.
Events: The World Championship of Online Poker, Spring Championship, Turbo Championship and MicroMillions are among the events you'll find here - these are the biggest and best in the industry.
In addition to the long list of types of tournament, there is also along list of reasons to choose Stars... including great software, arguably the best player loyalty scheme anywhere online, and a long list of promotions and bonus offers too. Don't want to sound too much like a Pokerstars commercial here, it is just they are the biggest poker site for a lot of good reasons.
To balance this there are some drawbacks. The main one for me is the sheer size of the fields, which can reach several thousand in the evenings at the lower to mid levels. Many of us have to be up in the mornings, and a game starting at 8pm can often end at 3 or 4am... You can balance this with the 180 player SNGs, which start as soon as 180 players have joined – what you gain in speed you sacrifice in profits, as these tend to have 50%+ 'regulars' who are pro or semi-pro 'grinders' playing 10+ games at once.
Ok, Pokerstars are fantastic for tournaments... and you will need an account there. Hold on for just a moment though – half the field will often know what they are going, know the math and have statistics software monitoring opponent's play - you need to be prepared before you venutre onto these shark-infested tables.
Click This Link To Visit Pokerstars.com (New Tab) And See Why This Is The Most Popular Site For Yourself!
(Marketing Code = PSP3108 for your 100% matched welcome bonuses).
Best Online Poker Tournament Sites – PartyPoker.com
Party were the first big poker site and their brand still has a lot of power to attract new players. Think of it this way, when someone who knows nothing about the game thinks of online poker their first thought is often Party Poker – only later will they get to hear about all the other brands. This keeps the games at Party very easy, with more novices than anywhere else the potential for profit is bigger – as long as you can successfully adjust to the 'crazy' fields.
Party have a lot of tournaments on offer, these are focused on NL Holdem and Omaha, with the occasional Stud game too. They are also focused on the lower buy-ins, with a good choice in the $3 to $22 range, though tailing off after this. There are not always enough games to fill the screen for those who like to play 3+ tables at once in similar games / buy-ins... you can either add a second site (Red Kings or Titan for example) for extra games, or compromise and play a turbo rebuy or other 'fun' type game alongside your regular tournaments.
Satellites to the bigger buy-in online tournaments are popular at Party Poker. They feed the big events with sub-qualifiers which require only Party Points or $1, and have several rounds of qualifiers. This keeps the bigger tourneys including the Sunday 200k gtd and Monthly Million easy to beat too – and gives smaller bankrolled players a shot at the big money at the same time.
Recently, Party started their own poker event, a series of tournaments with extra promos and prizes called the 'Online PokerFest'. One thing this site do very well is to look after their existing players with follow up promotions and bonuses – for me this tips the balance from a 'hmmm, almost' to 'worth playing' as far as tournaments go.
Check out Party Poker for yourself here, bonus code SNGPLANET gets you the great 100% welcome bonus match up to $50 and access to the all-new challenges and missions.
Best Sites For Online Poker Tournaments – Titan Poker
As the biggest site on the huge iPoker Network, the breadth and variety of poker tournaments on offer at Titan Poker is excellent. Add to this the fact that the player base is largely recreational in nature and you will quickly find out just how much more profit you could make by playing in the tournaments at this site.
The games here have recently moved over to Euros as the main currency, reflecting the fact that most of the players are from Europe. Titan has also introduced multi-entry tournaments, you can join the same game up to 4 times at once (or re-enter if you bust). This has had a noticable effect of increasing the prize pools.
Great at the lower and mid-range, the tournaments are focused on NL Holdem and Omaha – with rebuys popular. Most start with 1500 chips, making them shallower-stacked than other sites. With so many fish willing to donate you their stacks, chipping up will be surprisingly easy. When it comes to the schedule, it is obvious some thought has gone into grouping games together. This means it is easier to find a small selection of similar games, for example you might choose the €5 freezeout, €5 rebuy and then a €10 freezeout 30 minutes later... In the evenings this works great for lower to mid-level players.
Higher buy-in tournaments are available through the week, with the €100k guaranteed 'showcase' on a Sunday and Mondays featuring a bigger Omaha tournaments. Satellites all follow the same 3-stage system, these are popular and soft enough to make you wonder how so many fish are able to play in one game!!
Titan Poker used to run the European Championship poker event, however this has not run for a while. Plenty of promotions do target MTT players, with a 'buy-in 50%+ off sale', leader board promos and SNG specific offers all in the recent past.
SNG Planet readers can claim a special extra at Titan, $20 free cash on top of the already generous 200% match on your first deposit. All you need to do is deposit a minimum of $20 using bonus code SNGPLANET – and I will ensure that the extra cash is with you within 48 hours (usually sooner) .
Best Online Poker Tournaments – RedKings.com (Ongame)
Last in my list (though not least!) is a smaller, yet very cool site on the OnGame Poker Network. Players who enjoy smaller buy-in tournaments (up to $22), yet do not feel like battling through massive fields for hours and hours might like to check out this site.
One thing that stands out is that the Sunday Major at Red Kings has a €15,000 guarantee named ChampionChip – similar to some of their larger rival sites. This is fed by numerous satellites. The main reason for playing tournaments here are the smaller guarantees. The €5 through €22 games which run each night with guarantees between $500 and $7500 which are my big tip. With smaller fields often 200 to 300 players, there is enough competition to justify the nice prize pools... yet not so many that you have to survive 10 all-ins just to get close to the final stages like you find at some of the larger sites. The balance is just right and I know that many readers will appreciate this.
Other benefits at Red Kings include great software, a choice of 6 welcome bonuses + a free €11 entry token for the monthly 'Fishmarket' €10k guaranteed tournament. Not strictly for tournaments, if you get dealt the two red kings in a cash game for the first time you get an automatic €300 bonus added to your account! (Note: fishmarket has not run for a while, replaced by a focus on the 'Grand Poker Tour' events, I'll update on this when the picture becomes clearer).
Worth a look, those smaller field guaranteed games are really very profitable!! Click Here And Choose Your Welcome Bonus Now!
Best Site For Online Poker Tournaments in 2017 - Mark's Summary
888 have pulled ahead of the pack from the perspective of the average player. They have a great choice of games - and these are noticably softer than those at other large sites including PokerStars and Full Tilt. If you are a online pro who 'needs' a large number of games at higher buy-ins - then you'll need to choose Stars. For everyone else, 888 has the best selection (including live event satellites) and some generous prizes.
You can grab up to $88 free to try out the games (no deposit, and you can still claim your 100% welcome bonus later down the line). Check out the tournaments at www.888poker.com for yourself now!
More Great Poker Tournament Articles
Online Poker Tournaments Main - Here you will find a list of the best strategy, guides and reviews covering Multi-Table tournaments.
10 Best Beginner Tournaments - Recently updated, 10 great lower buy-in tournaments, each with a great reason for you to try it!
Poker Satellites - With so many ways to win seats in televised live events, I decided to dedicate a whole section to this subject!