Here I Compare The Options For Real-Money Online Poker Tournaments Still Available To US Players
** Update May - Poker Maximus Is Back!! Poker maximus is the big tournament event held at Carbon Poker every few months, the next one runs from May 2nd to 12th, and has a massive $2,000,000 in guarantees - including a massive $250k gtd Main Event on the 12th May. There are satellite qualifiers for the events running throughout, and a leaderboard contest for those who go deep in multiple events. This is the biggest US online tournament event of th year so far, lets hope it keeps getting bigger. Check out the details over at www.carbonpoker.ag now!
The Sunday Million may be out of bounds – though there are still a number of mid-sized online poker tournaments with nice prize pools for US readers. This article gives you an overview of what is available on different sites.
With the Merge Network and Revolution Gaming Network's now competing for business, the choice of tournaments is increasing. I will stick with Lock Poker for the new Revolution Network, this site are now the main player on this network and are seriously ambitious when it comes to growing their player base! For Merge Carbon are an easy top pick, they are a clear leader on the network and drive the promos and events there.
If you were playing before Black Friday, then the number of tournaments available on each site will probably seem very small. Many players are making up for this by playing on both Lock and Carbon at the same time - this mix and match will allow you to get a good number of games at similar starting times - instead of having to stagger your entries over many hours.
I have divided this article into 3 sections, first the ‘majors’ which are the biggest regular guaranteed events – usually on Sundays – are covered. Next the mid-range tournaments, with buyins between $11 and $55, and then finally the micros. This article is part of a series of 4 which will cover all the different types of online poker – you can see the list of these on my main US Friendly Poker Sites page.
Best Online Poker Tournaments For US Players – Sunday Guarantees - The Biggest Games
Good news on Sundays! Since I wrote the first version of this article, the 'Sunday Majors' have gone up in value. Carbon Poker now offer a $125,000 gtd major and have kept the $109 buy-in (there are satellite qualifiers all week for players with smaller bankrolls). Lock Poker now have a $110,000 guaranteed of their own, which is a massive improvement on the $30k offered just a few months ago. The buy-in for Lake Poker's Sunday Major is also $109... See a pattern here? My money is on the Revolution Network upping the stakes to a $150k before the year is out! (Update, well, maybe early next year then!!)
Aside from the Majors there are some bigger second tier tournaments coming through. I like the Carbon Daily Deepstacks which now run twice a day (at 17:00 and 00:00 server time) with a $5k guarantee these games have a $82 buy-in. Lock Poker have an even better 2nd tier selection, with a $65k guaranteed super-stack Sunday event ($530 entry) + $7,500 gtd deep-stack at $215. There is also a Major for smaller bankrolled players at Lake, the $10k guaranteed at $11 entry. I should also mention the Poker Maximus event, which is in its 4th running as of the Feb 2013. This is a huge event, with $1.5 million in guaranteed prizes and a $500k 'Main Event' the place to head for this is Carbon.
The links below open new tabs so you can continue here while you check out those tournament schedules for yourself.
Click this one to check out the excellent selection of tournaments at Carbon Poker - bonus / coupon code CARBONPK gets you the network maximum of 200% matched to your first deposit (max $5k) + free poker calculator too!
Click this one to check out the schedule over at Lock Poker - You can now get a huge 200% to $4k matched bonus while you check out the very slick monotone design at Lock on the Revolution Gaming Network.
I should mention Bovada and America's Card Room for the sake of completeness. Bovada have a $100k guaranteed each Sunday and America' Card Room have occasional 'Specials' (such as the $250k gtd they ran for the anniversary of Black Friday). These will be covered here at SNG Planet in due course once I am satisfied that they are safe places to deposit and play... right now, I am waiting for some positive news before publishing!
US Online Poker Tournaments – Mid Buy-Ins, The $11 To $55 Range
A little more choice as we get into the $11+ buy-in range – including a lot of ‘smaller guarantees’ at both Carbon and Lock. Smaller fields than many will be used to, 250 to 350 players is considered busy for most of these tournaments, and outside of the guaranteed prize pools and lower end of these buy-ins you will often be facing less than 100 opponents.
Again Carbon Poker trump both of these sites with the best selection and variety of tournaments for US players. I'll add the quick note that if you were used to multi-tabling the $11 to $55 games then the best solution is to have accounts at 2 or even all 3 of the leading US sites. Carbon have bounty tournaments, shootouts, a selection of PLO and rebuy / turbo games too. Guarantees between $750 and $2500 are spread throughout the day, with bigger evening and weekend guarantees available too.
Finally to note the standard of play, the pro grinders of old are a minority these days, with most people playing for fun and relaxation - you can see the difference from the tables. I'm recommending Carbon strongly as #1 for mid buy-in tournaments, see you at the tables soon!
US Online Poker Tournaments Guide – Smaller Buy-In Events
Once we get to the $10 and under buy-in range, then the options open up a lot. You can add smaller sites like America's Card Room to the mix, and could probably get enough volume of games at just one of the 'big 2' US facing sites. Fields do get bigger, though nothing like the 3000 opponents that you used to see in many $3 to $8 games over at Pokerstars! Expect 200 to 500 as the norm.
On balance Carbon get my vote once again... however I want this page to cover all of the sites and not just how great the tournaments on the Merge Network are... so I'll flag Lock Poker this time, with the extra Revolution Network players making a huge difference to the tourney schedule! Lock offer a nice selection of smaller buy in tournaments, along with the occasional $33+ games. Check out Lock Poker for yourself by clicking this link!
My overall summary is as follows: Carbon still have the edge for me, and if I had to choose only one site it would be the Merge Network's cool flagship. Since forming the Revolution Gaming network, Lock have massively improved and once this network settles in they will be serious contenders for the top pick. If you like the higher or mid to high buy-ins then both sites at once is an easy call!
Remember, SNG Planet readers get a free poker calculator + biggest 200% matched welcome bonus at Carbon Poker, use Carbon Poker Coupon Code CARBONPK when you register to claim yours!
Here are my reviews of the leading US facing sites in 2012
- Lock Poker Review
- Carbon Poker Review
- SNG Tournaments For US Players (compares the Sit N Goes at the US biggest sites)
Don't forget to bookmark this page now - I'll update on the US scene as soon as any news comes in - especially with one-off tournaments or special promotions.