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What Goes on Behind the Scenes at a Poker Tournament

Home » What Goes on Behind the Scenes at a Poker Tournament

What Goes on Behind the Scenes at a Poker Tournament

A poker dealer shuffles his cards between hands.

If you’re playing in online poker tournaments, you may be surprised to learn that there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes at a live poker tournament. These eight-day events require meticulous planning by both the organizers of the event and the players themselves. These live poker tournaments are very different from the online poker tournaments that can be found at online casinos such as BetMGM. 

Here we’ll be looking at all the challenges and benefits that poker players experience when preparing for a poker tournament and while it’s happening. We’ll also be taking a dive into what goes into setting up a poker event. 

Player preparation

When you think of a Broadway show, you don’t just assume that everything fell into place. There’s a lot of work that went into building the set, dress rehearsals, lighting, audio and so on. The same can be said for playing poker as a professional, as most viewers only catch the final table that’s stacked with cash and the parties that take place afterward. 

What you don’t see are the 14-hour days that players spend focused on grueling game plans as they attempt to make it to the final table. The most successful players spend hours of their day studying new strategies with the hope that their opponents don’t gain an edge. Many poker players have to juggle all of this with volatile financial swings, so needless to say, they’re under a lot of stress.


This is a vastly different experience for a player who’s participating in an online poker event. Live tournaments require players to travel from different parts of the globe, which means that many of them are exhausted by the time they reach the location of the tournament. For a new contender, it can be very exciting, but for those who have many years under their belts, it might take its toll. There’s also no guarantee that you’ll win, so participating, on its own, is a risk.

The scene

When arriving at the tournament venue as a new player, it’s easy to get caught up in your surroundings, especially since these events often take place at hotels or resorts. However, everything changes when you hit the tournament room. Hardly any focus is on the decor and it quickly becomes clear that the place is all business. The huge setup has tables packed with players, each one having the same goal: to make it to the front of the pack. 

Unlike playing online poker from the comfort of your sofa, a high-stakes poker tournament is an extremely frenetic event, but it’s contained fairly well. There are often high-profile players in attendance, from actors to athletes, and what makes it such an incredible experience is that you’ll never know if you’re seated alongside an average Joe or someone who’s a king of a small nation.

Poker is one of the best casino games to play and there’s no other gaming tournament that comes close to what you can find on the world stage. There may be other types of casino games that can be a lot of fun, but there’s little that can be as alluring as a Texas Hold’em poker game.

The gameplay

A poker player checks his cards before placing a bet.

The tournaments usually start off in a very relaxed manner, with players talking to each other and joking around. However, things quickly change as chips are lost, and the herd begins to thin. A more serious feeling shrouds the room as the competition becomes much more intense and at this point, nobody can be trusted. 

It’s amazing how the same players who were talking about trivial things and had a sense of community about them quickly view each other as rivals. This is the nature of the game, an arena for smooth operators to showcase their natural-born talents, and this is what makes poker one of the best casino table games around.  


While the grand prizes associated with major poker tournaments are exceptionally high, with many of the best players walking away with over $1 million, the reality is that many players don’t make the same amount. When you see the poker winnings figure, you can easily assume that this is what the player made in a single tournament. 

But in reality, this is the figure that’s been made altogether. There are plenty of poker players who have made lots of cash, but the majority will end up spending their winnings on expenses that have come with being involved in the sport. 

Do the pros outweigh the cons?

There are plenty of perks that come with being a professional poker player, such as a good work-life balance, a potentially lucrative income stream, meeting new people, and so on. But the lack of job security and the stress that comes with not knowing when your next “paycheck” will come along isn’t something that most people are equipped to deal with. 

If you’re eager to start playing poker on a competitive level, we would strongly suggest that you do it as a hobby if you have a lot of financial responsibilities. Poker is one of the best live dealer casino games around and pro players thrive on the adrenaline rush, but as we’ve mentioned before, it’s not for everyone. 

Test your poker skills with BetMGM

When you register with BetMGM, you’ll be able to enjoy a wide variety of poker games and tournaments, all of which are great for new players to get started playing for real money. If poker isn’t your game of choice, then you’ll be thrilled to discover that there are different gaming categories to choose from, so you’re guaranteed to find something that you’ll enjoy.