A Detailed Look At The Poker Tournaments Best Suited To Beginners And Recreational Players
By Planet Mark
You have to be careful where you play online poker tournaments in 2014 – while some games are still very easy to beat, others are full of small stakes ‘pro grinders’ waiting to take your bankroll!
This article highlights my picks of the best games for beginning players who are looking to build their experience at the same time as making some money. This was one of the original articles here at Sit and Go Planet, and has evolved over the years as the poker landscape has changed, sites closed and other sites become easier or more difficult to profit from.
Note: US Players now have their own article – US Online Poker Tournaments – and this one focused on the rest of the world.
Instead of a list of 10 possible games, you will find more details on the top 3 in this latest update, followed by a quick run-down on the remaining 7. The idea is that, by giving more information on the top picks, I can better highlight the type of player who should be playing in each game – you can see more clearly which is the right game for you!
Planet Mark’s List Of The Best Beginner Poker Tournaments – The Top 3
#1 – PokerStars.com 180 Player Sit N Go Tournaments
These games start every few minutes (as soon as they fill up with 180 players) and last for between 2 and 4 hours. You can start at the micro buy-ins and work your way up. If you are new to the poker tournaments I’d suggest getting your feet wet with a $2.50c or $8 Turbo games, and moving on up from there. 27 players get paid, up from 18 paying places previously. This evens out some of the swings - so you'll get more small cashes to keep your bankroll moving while you wait for those final table spots.
You’ll gain experience in these games so fast that it will soon be time to move to bigger challenges. You wiz through the stages, and will be able to fine-tune your strategy for the early, mid, bubble and final table quickly and easily.
What is more, these games are very profitable. As long as you have some basic poker strategy knowledge you should see your bankroll grow. I have published a detailed 3-part guide to the 180’s which you can find right here.
Many players miss the chance to claim up to 3 separate welcome bonuses at PokerStars (up to a max total of $600) This is a simple 2-stage process, first register your account - use Marketing Code PSP3108 from the drop down 'where did you hear about us' list. Next deposit with Bonus Code STARS600 (for all 3 bonuses). With the biggest choice of tournaments around, the sky is the limit once you have sharpened your game in the 180 SNGs.
Check out PokerStars.com for yourself now, because the180 Player Sit N Goes are a great way to build your bankroll in 2014!
#2 – The Fishmarket At OnGame’s Red Kings Poker
This $11 tournament has a $7,500 guaranteed prize pool and two special twists. First, it is free to enter for players who deposit at Red Kings poker (in addition to the awesome choice of welcome bonuses). Second, there are a ton of extra prizes awarded, including iPads, polo shirts and caps.
By giving a ticket to all the first time depositors, Red Kings make sure that there are plenty of first timers in the field – making this a super-easy game to beat. Any player at Red Kings can join for $11, and many do just that thanks to the extra prizes and soft field. This increases the prize pool, so you end up with a great combination of big prize money and easy game. In a new addition for 2014, the player who gets the worst bad beat during the game will get an iPad Mini!
The Fishmarket runs every 2 months, and as long as you make that first deposit within an hour of the kick-off you’ll get a ticket. See the ‘Promotions’ tab on the Red Kings Website for the date of the next game.
OnGame are a very cool mid-sized network, with friendly games and quirky promos. Highlights of these include a choice of 6 different welcome bonuses and an extra $300 bonus the first time you are dealt the 2 red kings in a real money cash game (which goes up to $500 if you lose the hand at showdown). You can also benefit from special leader boards which pay out every 3 days (meaning you do not need to grind all month to get some extra cash!).
You’ll love the Fishmarket, and you’ll also love Red Kings Poker – check them out for yourself!
#3 – Titan Poker Nightly €5 Rebuy + $20 Extra Free Cash Offer
Titan have moved their tournaments over to Euros... This makes great sense for the majority of their player base. In fact this site / network have not been available to US players since the UIGEA of 2006 - so using Dollars was more a legacy thing than anything. You can still deposit in whatever currency you wish. Titan are super-soft, thanks to the big sports-betting x-over traffic on the iPoker Network. In fact, I could have picked from a large number of tournaments, here are the key reasons for checking out the MTTs here:
1) The Super-Soft iPoker Network, and
2) The 'Steps' Qualifiers
The €5 Rebuy kicks off at 20:30 GMT each night, and has a €5000 guaranteed prize pool.,This is part of a schedule packed with lower to mid buy-in games, most with guaranteed prizes and all with guaranteed fish!
Key to the easy tournaments on iPoker are the big name betting site brands who are the backbone of the network. Brands like William Hill, PaddyPower and Betfair combine their players on a shared poker software back-end. This allows them to offer a huge poker site and big prizes, and also means they do not need to develop their own poker software. Combined with the killer rewards of Titan, and you end yup with a combination which is hard to beat.
The great news is that every day, new players are crossing over from the sports betting parts of the site, so instead of hordes of ‘small stakes poker pros’ – you end up playing a mix of new and recreational players. More fun, more profit and less abuse in the chat box!
Steps are 1-table tournaments, where you can win tickets to tournaments or the next level Step game. For example, you can play a $3+30c game and win a $10+$1 entry which can be used for any tournament of that price, these should be moving over to Euros soon.
You can grab and extra $20 on top of your first deposit bonus (already a 200% match). Just register with bonus code SNGPLANET and make your first deposit, and I will ensure that the $20 is added to your player account within 48 hours – simple. After that there are ton of promos and the amazing Titan Treasures loyalty scheme to keep your bankroll topped up.
I strongly recommend the iPoker Network for all beginning tournament players – check out the awesome Titan Poker for yourself now, because you will not find easier to beat poker tournaments anywhere else online.
Planet Mark’s 10 Best Beginners Poker Tournaments – 7 More Great Ideas!
#4 – Party Poker Lucky Dollar – Extra Easy Games For Brand New Players
These run several times a day, and have a $1 entry fee while being restricted to players in their first month at the site. A simple idea to combine a low buy-in with a chance to gain tournament experience without the sharks around! Party Poker have a well developed tournament schedule, which includes a lot of qualifier games to enable smaller bankroll players to play for big money by winning their seat in a low buy-in tournaments. I have a section of the site dedicated to Satellite Qualifiers or you can find out more on the infamous Party Poker here.
#5 – PokerStars Daily Big’s – Big Fields, Big Guarantees and Small Buy-Ins
PokerStars really do crush the other poker sites when it comes to the list of tournaments running each day. There are 13 games branded as the ‘Bigs’, which have high guarantees compared to the buy-in. There are several at $11 and under which appeal to new players including the Big $2.20 ($5k guarantee), Big $3.30c ($6k), Big $4.40c ($15k), Big $5.50c ($20k), Big $8.80c ($25k) and The Big $11 which has a huge $60k guarantee each night. A great opportunity to make significant cash from a small buy-in!
#6 888Poker – Super-Soft Tournaments + $88 Free To Try The Games
888 Are the fastest growing poker site around in 2014, and when you look at their games, you will see that they are focusing on creating a fun, recreational site – rather than catering to the multi-tabling small stakes pros which infest some other sites. There are tons of tournaments on offer, and I like that the fields are smaller (in the 100’s rather than 1000’s), so you will not need to sit up for half of the night to reach a final table. Players from most countries can grab $8 free upfront to try the games – you’ll still get your deposit bonus after this if you like what you find. You can check out the cool tournaments at 888 Poker and grab your $88 via this link.
#7 – Full Tilt Poker – 90 Player Knockout Sit N Goes
Great for people who do not have hours to spend, 90 player Knockout Sit N Goes are like Mini Poker tournaments which are starting any time 90 players sign up. With 4 different buy-in levels to choose from starting at £3.30 these are fun games. Every time you knock an opponent out of the game you will get a bounty payment straight into your account, the rest of the entry fees make up prize pool for the last 9 players. You can read my strategy article on these cool games here.
#8 – Satellite Qualifiers At Titan Poker
Some players would like to emulate the famous Chris Moneymaker, and qualify for a live event where life-changing money is up for grabs. For beginners, I’m going to recommend Titan Poker once again. They have an established 3-tier system, where you win your way up to ‘SuperSatellites’ which award prizes to games around the world including the World Series Of Poker, Aussie Millions, Caribbean Poker Tour and many more. This article explains more of what is on offer.
#9 – Full Tilt Poker Mini-FTOPS / PokerStars Micro Millions
A dual entry for number 9.
FTOPS stands for ‘Full Tilt Online Poker Series’ and is an online tournament event with big buy-ins and equally big prizes. This runs 3 to 4 times each year and is followed by a ‘Mini-FTOPs’ which re-runs the big event with buy-ins at 10% of the original price. As you might expect, this attracts huge fields and some very large prize pools.
PokerStars MicroMillions is a similar event, a series of online tournaments over 10 days, with smaller buy-ins and big prizes. This is the small stakes equivalent of their big money ‘World Championship Of Online Poker’.
#10 – Carbon Poker – Coupon Tournaments And Small Guarantees
Carbon Poker are US-Friendly, for me their unique software and recreational feel of the games make them a great rec for players outside of the US too. I recommend you check out the animated smileys in the software, which players can trigger by typing certain words into the chat box! You should also check out the ‘Token’ tournaments, these start at $1 and allow you to win tickets for tournaments ranging from $11 through to $215 – a great way to get into tournaments you might not have been able to afford directly. See my Carbon Poker Review for more.
Whew – What a list, If the choice of game is making your head spin then my top rec is the 180 Player Sit N Goes at PokerStars.com – there is no better place to combine profitable games and tournament experience, and they are starting every few minutes. Check out the awesome PokerStars.com for yourself now! Remember, Marketing Code = PSP3108 (registration screen) and Bonus Code = STARS600 (when you deposit) to grab yourself up to 3 separate welcome bonuses!
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