Poker Tournament Payout Structures Compared At The Leading Online Poker Sites

How Many Places A Multi-Table Tournament Pays Affects Your Strategy

Online poker tournaments have big variations on how many people get a share of the prize money each time. Some have ‘shallow’ payouts, where the smallest win might be only just over your initial buy-in – and pay a lot of places. Other have ‘steep’ payout structures which reward the last 3 players with a bigger proportion of the prize pool, and have fewer small payouts to balance this.

Most of the profits you make in the long-run from tournament poker play comes from those occasional big wins.

The question covered in this article is how the payout structures relate to your style of play and overall strategy. If you are better suited to a steep, shallow or in-between payout system, then your profits could improve by making sure you play the right games.

First of all, 2 tables to highlight the differences between the sites. The table below shows the different payouts for small, medium and large tournaments at the main poker sites. With links to the reviews of each for further information.

 

100 Entrants

250 Entrants

1000 Entrants

Detailed Review

888 Poker

10

30

70

888 Review

Full Tilt Poker

18

36

153

Full Tilt Poker Review

Titan Poker

10

30

150

Titan Poker Review

Party Poker

13

30

100

Party Poker Review

BetOnline Poker US-players are welcome!

20

30

100

BetOnline Poker Review

PokerStars

18

45

180

PokerStars Review

Some large differences in the payout structures can be better highlighted with a look at the percentage of the total prize pool paid for each spot. The second table below shows you how much each of these sites pay for 1st place and also how much for the lowest paying spot. Together with the number of places paid this should give you a great insight into the online poker tournament payout structures at the leading sites.

 

100 Entrants

250 Entrants

1000 Entrants

Detailed Review

888 Poker

30% / 2%

28% / 0.5%

22% / 0.3%

888 Poker Review

Full Tilt Poker

25% / 1.8%

22.5% / 0.75%

19.11% / 0.13%

Full Tilt Poker Review

Titan Poker

30% / 2.5%

27% / 0.75%

22% / 0.15%

Titan Poker Review

Party Poker

28.5% / 1.6%

27% / 0.7%

23.5% / 0.2%

Party Poker Review

BetOnline Poker US-players are welcome!

30% / 1%

27% / 0.75%

25% / 0.125%

BetOnline Poker Review

PokerStars

23% / 2.1% 

19.5% / 0.6%

18.25% / 0.17%

PokerStars Review

Payout Structures In Online Poker Tournaments – What Affects Your Choice?

There are two major factors affecting whether you choose a shallow (like PokerStars) structure or a steep (think Full Tilt) one, these are your experience level and your style.

Experience Level

Every player was a novice at some point, and while you are learning the ins and outs of tournament poker your expectation in each game is going to be negative… you’ll lose money over time, though hopefully not all of it! At this stage, small cashes can help to maintain your bankroll while you gain valuable experience. Even tiny wins of 2x your entry fee can sustain you long enough to fight another day. Sure, the long ‘in the money’ game, where you win just a couple of dollars more for each step up the payout scale, can be long and drawn out… however you’ll be gaining experience of in the money play as you go.

Conversely, experienced players know that the real money is at the final table. They are capable of switching gears to navigate through the different phases of poker tournaments. They are less likely to be playing ‘scared money’ at the money bubble and final table bubble, and are likely to have a bankroll that can withstand the (often brutal) variance that MTT play can bring. For these players the optimal payout structure is the shallow version, with as much of the money as possible in the final few paying places.

Playing Style

If you are a recreational player who enjoys ‘gambling it up’ (hopefully with an edge on your opponents), likes to take some risks to build a big stack early to put pressure on opponents and plays without worrying about busting then you probably do not want to sit ‘in the money’ for 3 hours. For the ‘Loose Aggressive’ style of play a top-heavy (steep) payout structure is ideal, a target to aim for, an opportunity to take full advantage of your more timid opponents.

Conversely a more conservative player might prefer the shallow payouts. This type would like to win big, but does not want to risk busting too often… after all, it is hard enough to go deep even when you get the chips in with the best hand. For the more passive players, the small payouts act like an insurance system for those times bad-beats hit during a deep run. While this is not a winning strategy long-term, a lot of people will adopt this style, especially when playing in tournaments above their normal buy-in level.

Planet Mark’s Recommendations

To top this article up I’ll highlight my choices for the best of each type of tournament payout structure. For steep payouts mixed with seriously soft opponents (thanks to the big casino linked to this site) I recommend 888 Poker. Formerly known as Pacific Poker, this site are currently gaining huge numbers of players. The 10 / 30/ 70 makes this the most profitable site for those ‘going for the win’ – check out the super-cool 888 Poker for yourself now.

For a shallow payout structure, PokerStars is the place to head. With around 18% paid in the biggest games, you will cash far more often – and the field sizes are big enough to ensure that the final tables have enough cash to keep everyone happy. There are many good reasons why this is the world’s most popular poker site. Register with affiliate marketing code PSP3108, and deposit with bonus code STARS600 to claim up to 3 separate welcome bonuses up to $600. Check out the mighty PokerStars.com for yourself now!

compared tournament payouts
Marketing Code = PSP3108 / Bonus Code = STARS600

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