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How to Run a Home Texas Hold'em Tournament

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Home poker tournaments are quickly replacing the traditional home poker games that many have been playing for years. Texas Hold’em has become the game of choice for most players around the country and suddenly all those crazy variations of seven card stud have lost their appeal for many who prefer the challenge of a poker tournament. There are several advantages to playing in a home poker tournament.

One advantage to a home poker tournament is that it has a fixed cost. The players know ahead of time the amount of money that they could possibly lose. Many newer players are willing to sit down at the table when they know that the most they can lose is predetermined. They look at it as a fixed “entertainment” cost. Another advantage is that home poker tournaments are also a great way to introduce new players to the game without them feeling intimidated as they would sitting down with a group of strangers in the card room.

Limit vs. No Limit
Many players want to hold no limit tournaments because of the excitement they see on the televised events. In a no limit tournament one mistake could knock you out. In a limit tournament players can make a mistake and it will only cost them a bet or two. If you have are having the tournament as a “social” event or have newer players with little experience you may find it better to hold a limit tournament. This way players can last longer and enjoy the evening.

Price of Tournament
You can set the price of the tournament to any amount you think the players want to spend. The tournaments I run are $30 and we agreed to take out five dollars per person to pay for food and soda. This is all agreed upon ahead of time. You may decide to just have everyone bring their own beverages and snacks.

Payouts
The payouts are based on a percentage of the total prize pool. The number of places paid depends on the number of players in the tournament. For 10 players we pay three spots. First place is paid 50%, second place is paid 30% and third place gets 20%. If you had 10 players paying $25 the total prize pool is $250 and the winners would be paid $125 for 1st: $75 for 2nd: and $50 for 3rd.

For more than ten players we use the following break down:
11 – 20 slayers: 1st =46%: 2nd=27%: 3rd=17%: 4th=10%.
21 - 30 players: 1st =42%: 2nd = 25%: 3rd = 15%: 4th = 10%: 5th=8%.
31 - 40 players: 1st =40%: 2nd = 23%: 3rd = 13%: 4th =10%: 5th =8%. 6th= 6%
You can adjust the percentages from those I use but you should tell the players what the payouts will be before the start of the tournament.

Starting Chips
Each player starts the tournament with $2,000 in chips. We only use three colors; Green, Black and Red. If your set of poker chips has different colors that’s fine but it is best to keep it the same every time. Players start with 8 green chips, 8 black chips and 2 red chips which totals 2,000.

Green = $25
Black = $100
Red = $500

Structure
Below is the structure we use for a Limit tournament. Note that during the first round the small and big blinds are the same. We do this so we don’t have to use smaller denomination chips. If you want the game to go faster you can start at round 2. If you want to run a No Limit Tournament just use the blind structure starting with blinds at $25 and $50.

Tournament Structure
Level Small Blind Big Blind Limits
1 25 25 25 - 50
2 25 50 50 - 100
3 50 100 100 - 200
Break 10 Minute Break
4 100 200 200 - 400
5 150 300 300 - 600
6 200 400 400 - 800
7 300 600 600 – 1,200
8 500 1,000 1,000 – 2,000
9 1,000 2,000 2,000 – 4,000
10 1,500 3,000 3,000 – 6,000
11 2,500 5,000 5,000 – 10,000
12 5,000 10,000 10,000 – 20,000
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