Make a Change and Win 10,000 Chips in a Poker Tournament

Make a Change and Win 10,000 Chips in a Poker Tournament

I have a poker-playing friend named Adriana. She is attractive, single, works in a bank and loves to play $3-6 limit poker at one of the casinos ringing the Phoenix area.

Notice I said $3-6. Not $4-8 or $5-10. And heaven forbid that anyone would suggest she play in a limit game with a kill. While that could double her winnings, it could also increase her losses. Adriana earns a good salary as assistant manager of her bank, but she hates to lose and would never think of risking more than one or two $30 buy-ins at her regular limit game.

I am a provocateur. I said mildly, 'Why not play in a poker tournament, Adriana? it only costs $60 or $100. For your buy-in, you'll receive 10,000 chips. That can surely give you a much better chance of winning than just $30 or $40.'

Although my friend found the prospect intriguing -- she hadn't realized she would start with 10,000 chips in a poker tournament -- she is still reluctant to try her luck in a tournament. But it's something I think all people who enjoy playing poker should consider.

I played my first poker tournament in Lake Elsinore, CA. more years ago than I care to remember. The game was five-card lowball with a joker. The buy-in as I recall was $30 with a $5 add-on that went to tip the dealers.

The difference between a cash game and a poker tournament is electrical.

As the blinds and antes increased, I felt like I had plugged myself into a light socket. If you have never competed in a tournament, I am sure you will have no concept on the excitement that such an event can create in the players. Suffice it to say that when we came to the break, I was drained emotionally and physically -- but I craved more.

I made the final table, much to my amazement as well as the amazement of Nick Notos, owner of the Sahara Dunes Casino and Card Room. He just shook his head in disbelief. I finished second to an attractive Beverly Hills woman who owned a boutique on one of the most fashionable boulevards in California. That night we celebrated with a bottle of champagne next to the swimming pool as Lake Elsinore shimmered in the distance and the pure desert air tickled our senses.

Aside from the fact that my tournament victory gave me enough funds to treat my then wife and her parents to a Hawaiian vacation, the experience hooked me on tournaments. Since that day, I have played in hundreds of poker tournaments in the Caribbean, Costa Rica, the Philippines and the United States. While I have generally finished out of the money I have made the final table in approximately 10 percent of the tournaments and I can assure you the experience has been worthwhile.


If a tournament is well structured with a reasonable buy-in, you have the best of all worlds going for you. Your buy-in assures you that your losses are limited to what it costs you to enter the competition. Payoffs are structured according to the number of players who enter, with 10 percent of the entrants finishing in the money. The winner can be paid anything from 40 to 50 percent of the total prize pool.

When I first began playing in tournaments in California and Nevada, the buy-ins were small, generally ranging from $10 to $35. Players generally received 4100 in chips. If they got knocked out during the first hour, they could make re-buys with a final add-on.

The re-buys, of course, added to the prize pool. In one memorable tournament at the Union Plaza, I remember that I invested in a total of 10 re-buys. It cost me over $100, but I won the tournament and pocketed $1,200, which says something for persistence and determination.

Most of the tournaments being staged today do not permit re-buys or add-ons. While some are structured different, for your buy-in you receive a certain number of chips and a good luck from the sponsor. After that, it's up to you.

I believe all poker players should enter at least one tournament. The excitement alone is well worth your investment. And if you are lucky enough to make the final tabe, you'll say to yourself, 'Where has this been all my life?' Good luck. If you do compete in a tournament because of this column, make those 10,000 chips work for you. Send me an email about your experiences, whether you win or lose. This is your gambling website and we care.

“Where has this been all my life?”

  • That doesn't sound bad for a tourney , I usually plan on losing a hundred off the bat in a so it would be fun to get into one and start with that many chips . A good chance for practice excitement and a chance to at least live and maybe advance to another round . I had a boss that used to go to land based casinos and play slot tournaments a lot . I like poker so maybe trying a poker tournament is something I would like to do. Would love to place in something like that and enjoy champagne ;) nice treat to end the day .
  • Those re-buys and add-ons haven't disappeared, they have just been reassigned to the slot tournaments, especially the freeroll tournaments. (freeroll my ass) Re-buys and add-ons in these tournaments, whether it is a freeroll or not is especially attractive to casinos online. The R&A's can pay for the freeroll plus increase their bottom line considerably. I have had 1st place bought, yes bought, right out from under me. You might even say that the R&A's are a "provocateur." That freeroll I mentioned above, I was in 1st place and way head of most everyone. There was one player, whose name does not escape me, but it will escape this comment. Any way, they were in 4th place, but it obviously wasn't good enough for them. After a few A's (at $2.50 a pop) they moved into 1st place, I became #2 and that is exactly how I felt for a while. After that, #1 bought a few more A's, i guess to increase their lead, but suddenly another player took the #1 position, my friend (in lieu of a better term) took #2 and I was #3 now. Well, #2 continued to get A's until finally they became #1 again, right as the tournament ended . At the end, I was in 3rd place and won $75, (I did buy 2 A's in the beginning to see if I could catch up, but no) so outright I did win $70. My friend did take 1st place $150, but they didn't make very much money after all the A's and I know they didn't have as much fun as I did watching them claw it out. The casino made out like a bandit and R&A's continue to be well worth it, for the casino's........

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