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Online poker tournaments are a staple in any virtual poker room. Depending on the calendar month and where you’re located across the globe, the options a poker player has to choose from can differ greatly. This article aims to serve as a guide to help online poker players decide which online tournaments are best for them.

How Much Time Do You Have?

Before any thought is put into achieving a significant cash in a large Multi Table Tournament (MTT), one should consider how much time he or she has available. I almost always recommend Single Table Sit & Gos (STSNGs) to new players because they typically conclude within an hour and give casual players much-needed exposure to online poker tournament formats.

Unless you’re absolutely sure you have hours of time at your disposal, Single Table or Multi Table SNGs are the way to go. There are few things more frustrating to an online poker player than running deep in a large tournament only to be forced to leave due to other commitments.

If you’re located in the Rest of World (ROW) market outside the United States, you’ll find that PokerStars has the widest selection of online poker tournament formats available on the Net. There are even “timed” MTTs that end within a preset frame while awarding payouts based on the chip counts of remaining players.

Take a few moments to browse through the selection of tournaments that are on offer within your favorite online poker rooms, and choose according to your personal situation.

How Much Risk Does Your Bankroll Justify?

Bankroll guidelines for “serious” online poker players start at 100 minimum buy-ins for any large scale MTT entry. While SNG bankroll requirements are a bit lower for solid winning players, there are many educated suggestions out there that call for a disposable bankroll of at least $100 just to enter a $1 tournament!

However, I also know casual players who make one weekly deposit and use that to enter a handful or even a single MTT per week, with the knowledge that the entire deposit could be lost by busting out of a major tournament.

If you already have a reliable source of income and can only dedicate a few hours per week to online poker tournaments, then there is nothing wrong with this method. This of course is assuming you can afford to re-deposit whenever “taking a shot” doesn’t work out the way you had hoped.

Weigh you disposable income against how much time you have, and then decide how much of your bankroll you are comfortable with risking. Although I do recommend that recreational players extend their online poker experience as much as possible (by playing lower buy-in events), you may enjoy a higher amount of risk with the potential of a massive reward.

What Is Your Expectation?

It takes a very large sample size to get a grasp on one’s true expectation in a given tournament type. This is due to variance.

The quicker you can accumulate enough results for a rough estimate of your long-term expectation, the sooner you can choose the right stake amount for your bankroll.

There are plenty of results-based online poker sites out there that show how much the best players are winning, so be extremely wary of short-term results that can skew one’s evaluation of how much profit is attainable in the long run.

If your last 100 SNGs have resulted in a 20% Return on Investment (ROI) at the $20 buy-in level, compare this to the most successful players and realize that you may not be able to continue that high amount of success.

Online poker tournaments are notorious for having a high level of variance. The larger the player field, the more results you’ll need to determine an approximation of your true expectation.

Best of luck at the online poker tables!

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David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for more than a decade: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as "dhubermex" online, David's poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.