By Jack Sawyer
PokerStars Tournament Schedules
PokerStars is known around the online poker scene for its massive amount and variety of tournaments. The tournaments are so varied and literally running around the clock and at all buy-in limits. Here follows an outline trying to cover most significant tournaments at all limits offered by the world’s biggest online poker site.
The micro (sub $5 buy-in) level is perfect for the beginner player and the aspiring tournament player. It is a rule of thumb that you should have at least 100 buy-ins to be bankrolled for any specific tournament, and since the biggest buy-in at the micro level is $4.40, with about $500 you should be fine bankroll-wise.
The options at the micro level are truly plentiful with tons of guaranteed money tournaments running 24/7, all of them filled with really bad players. There is for instance a regular $1.10 rebuy tourney running every day. This tourney, even though it has no guaranteed prize pool, routinely pulls in over 1000 entrants and has a first prize of over $750. It’s an incredible value, especially for the beginner or aspiring tournament player to learn all about the game.
At the micro level, there are also tons of guaranteed prize pool tournaments which have plenty of entrants and comparatively large prizes. You will find guaranteed prize pools ranging from $1,000 to $8,000, in events with buy-ins ranging between $1.10 to $4.40. The bulk of the events with the biggest guarantees seem to be NLHE and FLHE events; but if you fancy some other poker discipline, from Omaha8 to Deuce to Seven Triple Draw to Badugi, you will find cheap tournaments in which to practice your skills. You will also find a variety of tournament structures, much more than on any rival site. Structures can include a 128-man $2.20 winner take all, 1R1A’s, 2R1A’s, Quintuple shootout 4-max turbo’s (which means you’d have to win 5 consecutive 4-man Sit-n-go’s).
Also very popular, and while not actually scheduled but these fill quickly and run around the clock too, are the $4.40 180-man SNGs.
The most famous micro buy-in tournament there is, is the $3.30 +R NLHE $50,000 Guaranteed, which daily attracts more than 5,000 entrants. Winning this tournament will be a significant boost to the micro player’s bankroll, as first prize money ranges in a staggering $8,000 - $9,000+!
These tournaments are perfect for people learning the tournament game (particularly the end game) without having to spend a ton of money while doing so. So don’t be shy about giving the micros a try, it may be just what the doctor ordered!
Low ($5- $19):
The PokerStars low level buy-in tournaments are just as plentiful and filled with just as many bad players as PokerStars’ micro level buy-ins, except there are more of them and the guaranteed money is somewhat larger. The recommended bankroll for this level is anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 (which is 100 times the most expensive buy-in available plus some cushion).
At the low levels, PokerStars starts to really flex its tournament muscle. At this level you will once again find guaranteed prize pool tournaments running around the clock, ranging from a relatively lowly $1,000 for more obscure events such as FLO8 to juicy $50,000 NLHE rebuy events. A win in one of the larger events will easily net you four figures, boosting your roll quite nicely and aiding you in reaching and conquering the next level.
There are tournaments in pretty much all poker disciplines available for you to play around the clock. Particularly of the über popular NLHE variant, but also of the less popular ones such as FLHE, O8, PLO, Stud, 2-7 Triple Draw, Badugi, HOSE and more!
Among the most popular tournaments on the site is included the Daily Thirty Grand, which is an $11 buy-in tournament with 3000 starting chips at 10/20 blinds with 10 minute blind levels. This tournament routinely brings in about 5K entrants. First prize for this tournament is generally in the $6,000 range, which is definitely not bad for a tournament which only costs $11 to play! This one runs every day at about 2 PM EST. But the biggest prize money at this level belongs to the $11+R NLHE $60,000 Guaranteed, which starts out with half the stack of the previous one, but allows you to have unlimited rebuys until the end of the rebuy period. The first prize of this one is usually in the 5 figures, instantly catapulting any low level player’s bankroll into the midstakes!
There is also a fairly popular $11 Deep Stacks event in which the starting stacks are 5000 chips and the starting blinds at 10/20. The blind levels last a whopping 30 minutes! This structure really rewards patient play (or campers) and takes forever to finish, so winning this tournament is truly a feat that only a few can boast of having on their résumé.
There is also a $5.50+R NLHE $40,000 GTD running at about 6 PM EST, a $5.50 NLHE $8,000 GTD running at 9 AM EST, an $11 turbo NLHE $20,000 GTD starting at 12:15 PM EST which all have at least $8,000 in first place money. There is also an $11+R NLHE $60,000 GTD starting at 7 PM EST which has at least $12,000 in first prize money, and all of these run every day! What you have to understand out of all this is that no matter the time of day, there is always some big buy-in guaranteed prize pool tournament open for registration at this level. Most of the biggest prize pools are allocated to NLHE events though. Non-NLHE events lag in number of entrants when compared to NLHE events though; in these events, if you find at least 500 entrants you could consider yourself lucky.
You can play every day while waiting for that one time all your favorites will hold and your draws will hit, instantly quadrupling or even quintupling your roll in one swift stroke!
Medium ($20 - $99):
The play is starting to get serious at medium buy-in tournaments. While the play does not really toughen up as much as cash game midstakes do, play does significantly change and the amount of truly bad players decreases. That does not mean that one cannot profitably grind the midstakes tournaments. In fact, you can make a good living while also earning a good amount of player points while you are at it to spend to your heart’s desire in the VIP store.
The biggest tournaments at these limits average about 1,500 players on most weekdays, with the exception being the Daily Eight Grand $55 NLHE $80,000 GTD event, which starts every day at 3PM EST and most days has about 2,000+ players. Blinds start at 10/20, 3,000 chip stacks and 15 minute blinds. The first prize for this particular event generally runs in between $14,000 and $19,000, which is definitely a nice chunk of change. As it has this many players playing, the odds of running into regs is lower in this event than in others at this limit.
Its counterpart is the Nightly Seventy Grand $55 NLHE $70,000 GTD event, with a bit smaller prize pool , a bit smaller amount of entrants, but the same great structure. As its name suggests, it starts at 9:30 PM EST, which is generally prime for people on the other side of the globe such as Japan, Korea, and European early birds.
Other popular tournaments at this level include:
1. A $22 NLHE $20,000 GTD which also has the same great structure as the previous two, but much smaller first prize money as the buy-in is much lower. The average amount of entrants hovers around 1,300, with the first prize being something close to $4,500 on a daily basis.
2. A $27.50 NLHE $25,000 GTD, same great structure, starting at 8PM EST; first prize averages about $5,000.
3. A $55 NLHE $40,000 GTD which starts at about 5 PM EST averaging just over 1,000 entrants, with first prize averaging a very pretty $9,000.
4. And finally a $22 NLHE 1R1A $20,000 GTD event which weighs in at just under 1K entrants on average, with a first prize which constantly hovers around $8,000. This event starts daily at 2:15 PM EST.
At this level, most tournaments will struggle to break the 1K entrants’ barrier, and this structure is actually great for you to train your game if you intend to attend a smaller live event at some day, such as an EPT or APPT tourney which usually weighs in at about just under 1,000 entrants.
Most of the guaranteed events at this level have a kick ass blind level, starting with about 3,000 chips in everyone’s stack at 10/20 blinds, usually with a standard 15 min. blind level but also occasionally with a quicker 10 minute blind level. These structures are great and allow for some good tourney poker without becoming too much of a fold-fest or a wild west style shootout.
As mentioned before, this is a great level to grind for a living, and with enough dedication and time to play you could start having 4-figues in profit easily on a per month basis!
High Stakes ($100+):
Things are getting serious now. The PokerStars high stakes tournament tab is where most of the sharks live, the pro poker players, the guys who don’t believe in anything, the ones you should fear. Also, if you are considering playing high stakes, you definitely should know all there is to know about bankroll management and therefore do not need any tips on that regard.
While PokerStars is most well-known in poker circles as having the best Sunday tournaments with the greatest guarantees (Sunday Million, Sunday Warm-up, Sunday 500), and also the Wednesday Quarter Million which usually has great overlay, PokerStars also has a wide assortment of great high-buy-in tournaments running every day.
The Nightly Hundred Grand is the most popular tournament that runs every day, but its margin of popularity is not that wide. The five or six most popular tournaments have very equal amounts of entrants (between 450 and 650 or so), which means that most of the players playing are regs. But you are playing high stakes, so exploiting regs should be a requisite in your repertoire! This tournament has a $162 buy-in, and starting stacks are 3000 chips at 10/20 blinds, 15 minute levels, and starts every night at 9PM EST. A win here nets you about $20,000 on average, which is very serious money if you ask me. All you have to do is beat the other 650 or so hopefuls and you are set.
Other popular tourneys in the high stakes PokerStars section include the $109 NLHE $40,000 GTD which runs twice daily, once at 1PM EST and again at 7PM EST. The early one usually has more entrants than the later one, but both range between 500 and 600 entrants. First place money for this tourney is usually around $10,000+. Starting stacks are 3000 chips at 10/20 blinds, 15 minute levels.
There is also a $320 $100,000 GTD tournament which starts at about 1PM EST. This one is unique among the high stakes because the starting stacks are 3000 chips at 10/20 blinds, but at 20 minute levels, meaning this tourney plays somewhat slower than the others and can be interpreted as being tougher because of this. First prize usually exceeds $25,000, money with which one can buy a nice car.
Rounding out the most interesting daily high stakes PokerStars tourneys is a $162 tourney with $50,000 GTD, which also has starting stacks at 3000 chips at 10/20 blinds, but employs 12 minute levels instead which means the game plays quicker. This tourney has a daily turnout of about 500 players, and first prize money generally averages at about $13,000+.
There are loads of “smaller” tourneys (I mean, after all, just how small is a $10,000 GTD event?) that are running around the clock in the various poker disciplines, which generally have a turnout of about 150 players .
One thing you can say for sure is that the PokerStars high stakes tournament section does not lack in variety. Better money might be made versus weaker competition at the medium stakes, however, the amount of player points generated at higher stakes is very significant, guaranteeing Supernova status to the regular player. How and why you play is your business, and whatever you do you cannot go wrong by playing tournaments at PokerStars.
Get the ball rolling today! Making money is fun, baby!
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