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What Are the Two Main Types of Poker Tournaments?

Home » Tournaments » What Are the Two Main Types of Poker Tournaments?

What Are the Two Main Types of Poker Tournaments?

Men playing poker at a green felt poker table with casino decor in the background.

When someone mentions a poker tournament, most people think of No Limit Hold’em. It became the standard type of tournament in live poker rooms in the early 2000s at the same time that online poker began its growth. By the time of the poker boom, No Limit Hold’em was not only the “Cadillac of poker” but the only game that many new poker fans knew how to play. 

Before that time, however, popular tournaments included Stud or Draw. And today, Omaha is very prevalent in both online and live poker scenarios. In addition, players seeking new challenges have not only embraced Stud and Draw, but they enjoy variations of those games and newer alternatives like Badugi and Short Deck. 

As for the most frequently offered types of poker tournaments, these are the most common.

No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) Tournament

No Limit Poker signage on a navy blue felt table with red casino chips.

The most common type of tournament in land-based casinos and at online poker sites is a No Limit Hold’em – or Texas Hold’em, NLHE, or simply Hold’em – tournament. It is also the most commonly offered cash game offering. Here are some basics:

  • Each player receives two hole cards, face down.
  • Players can call the big blind, raise, or fold; the big blind can check.
  • The flop, or third street, provides three community cards on the board.
  • Players can check, bet, raise, or fold.
  • The turn, or fourth street, provides another card on the board.
  • Players can check, bet, raise, or fold.
  • The river, or fifth street, is the final community card displayed.
  • Players can check, bet, raise, or fold.

No Limit Hold’em stands out because there is no cap on the betting. Players can move all-in for as many chips as they hold in their stacks.

Another important feature of No Limit Hold’em is that players can use any of their hole cards along with any community cards to make the best five-card poker hand.

Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) Tournament

Omaha is a form of Hold’em but with a couple of key differences. 

Omaha plays the same as Hold’em in that there are five community cards, and betting occurs pre-flop, post-flop, post-turn, and post-river. However, players receive four face-down hole cards (instead of two) to start the hand. Additionally, the player must use exactly two hole cards and three community cards to make the best five-card hand.

The most common type of Omaha tournaments – and cash games, for that matter – are in the form of Pot Limit Omaha. This veers from the “no limit” betting structure, as players cannot bet more than the amount that is in the pot. 

These rules create a more complex level of skill required to play Pot Limit Omaha well. Pre-flop betting is often more significant, as the inclusion of more hole cards gives players more chances of making hands after the flop, turn, and river. It creates a more action-filled game.

Poker Variations of Hold’em and Omaha

Casino chips and a roll of money on a poker table with a hand holding ace playing cards.

Most casinos and card rooms live or online offer the basic NLHE tournament, and the second-most popular choice is a PLO event. However, variations on these two events provide many more options for players by simply changing the games slightly.

Limit Hold’em is a common form of Hold’em and attracts many cash game players and those with more limited bankrolls. The limit caps betting and keeps bets from getting too high too quickly. Pre-flop and post-flop betting rounds cap bets at the size of the big blind. Post-turn and post-river bets can be double the amount of the big blind.

As for Omaha, the most common variation in tournaments is Omaha Hi-Lo (sometimes written as High-Low or Hi/Lo, Omaha-8 or O/8, or Omaha 8-or-Better or Omaha H/L 8-or-Better, or some version thereof). This turns Omaha into a split-pot game in which there are two ways to win. 

While standard PLO is the “high” version, with regular card rankings in play, the “high/low” version creates two ways of calculating a winning hand. The “high” hand remains the same, but the “low” hand requires several components:

  • A low hand must qualify, meaning it contains at least five unpaired cards ranking eight or lower, wherein the ace can serve as a low card while also a high card in the high hand.
  • A low hand ranks from the low ace, meaning the best low hand would be 5-4-3-2-A. The worst low hand would be 8-7-6-5-4.
  • Flushes or straights in poker make no difference in counting a low hand.

A player can have the proper cards for a high and low hand, which means they scoop the entire pot. But if one player has the high hand and the other the low hand, the two players split the pot. Despite its somewhat complicated nature, it remains a very popular version of Omaha in tournament settings.

Register at BetMGM Poker to explore all the game variations.

Players can expect to find these main types of poker tournaments in top online and live series.