An average live poker game can last several hours, while online, the game may only last for an hour or less. Depending on the variant, there might be extra players, more chips or several tables. Each one of these additions can increase the game times significantly. Other variations are geared toward speed, restricting the number of players and reducing the chip stacks. Here are the most common poker variants you will encounter, and how long they take to play.
MULTI-TABLE TOURNAMENTS (MTTs)
Description: Often abbreviated to MTT, a multi-table tournament has two or more tables of players. The rules can vary, but most of the time, it's freezeout style; once you lose all your chips, you are out. The last player with chips is crowned the winner.
Typical Time Limit: Multi-table tournaments can take a few hours, or, depending on the number of players and the ruleset, a couple of days. A sit and go or turbo MTT are designed to be much faster by increasing the blinds frequently and limiting player numbers.
A rebuy MTT allows players to rebuy a set number of times, which will increase the game length significantly. Players in a re-entry tournament can also buy back in for a set amount of time if they are eliminated. A freezeout game doesn't allow rebuys or re-entry; once you lose your chips, you are out.
Regardless of the variation, a live MTT will always last a lot longer than their online counterparts due to the games' human factor. Online, the cards are controlled by a random number generator and other software, streamlining everything for efficiency. Live, the game can only move as fast as the dealer and the players.
Player Numbers: Each table in an MTT should have between five and ten players. If less than 10 players sign up, it's unlikely the tournament will go ahead. Unless explicitly stated in the rules, there is no limit on how many people can play in an MTT.
Description: Bounty tournaments operate the same as a standard game of poker; the key difference is part of the buy-in is used to put a bounty on everyone's head, which is paid to the person who eliminates them from the game. The more players you eliminate, the more you accumulate. Even if you aren't the last player in the game, you can still win a prize through bounties.
Typical Time Limit: A live single table bounty tournament will typically take between 1 to 5 hours, depending on the number of players, starting stacks, and how careful everyone is. Online, it's not unusual for a game to last less than two hours. An online MTT bounty tournament will generally take a few hours to resolve, depending on the number of players.
The sit and go and turbo variations will usually be over in two hours or less because of their rules restricting players numbers and regularly increasing blinds. If it's a re-buy, re-entry, or deep stack bounty tournament, expect several hours to be added to the run time.
Progressive Bounty Tournaments: A progressive bounty tournament operates the same way as a standard bounty tourney; the only difference is how the bounty works. Instead of collecting a full bounty every time you knock someone out of the game, you only collect half. The remainder is added to your own bounty, increasing the incentive for other players to target you.
Player Numbers: A bounty tournament has no limit on the number of players who can buy in. The minimum will vary, but generally, a casino won't allow a tournament to go ahead if they can't fill at least one table of ten people.
SIT AND GOS
Description: A sit and go poker tournament is a fast-paced knockout style game that requires a preset number of entries before it can begin. The buy-in is a fixed rate, and everyone receives the same amount of chips.
Player Numbers/Typical Time Limit: Online sit and go poker tournaments are usually played between six to ten players and can last between 20 minutes to 3 hours. There are larger versions, with multiple tables and hundreds of players, but these are rare compared to the single table tournaments.
JACKPOT SIT AND GO
Description: Players in a jackpot sit and go game are all allocated a small starting stack; typically, the value won't exceed more than a few hundred, then the prize pool is determined by spinning a wheel. The last player with chips wins the prize.
Typical Time Limit: Because a jackpot sit and go game only has a few players, they will generally last 5 to 40 minutes.
Player Numbers: A standard jackpot sit and go will only have three players.
Description: In ring games, all the chips have a real value attached to them. Other than that, the game follows standard poker rules.
Typical Time Limit: A ring game can last indefinitely; provided new players keep joining the table; it can theoretically go forever. A typical ring game might last between 1 to 8 hours; however, players are free to leave whenever they like. Keep in mind it's considered rude to chip up and dash after a few hands.
Player Numbers: A minimum of two players are required for the game to start, and once the table reaches ten people, no more can join until someone is knocked out, or leaves.
TURBO POKER GAMES
Description: Turbo poker tournaments are fast-paced games where the blinds or antes increase faster than usual. Typically, they will rise every five to 40 minutes, forcing players to chip up, or risk being blinded out. Super turbo, hyper turbo, or any other variations will generally have much faster blinds such as 3 minutes and smaller starting stacks.
Typical Time Limit: A single table turbo event will generally last a few hours. If the table is at capacity, ten players, then 2 to 8 hours is a realistic time frame. However, depending on how aggressive everyone is, the game could be over in less than an hour. MTT turbo tournaments are not as common, however, they will usually have a cap to limit how many players can sign up. Even with more than one table, rebuys or re-entries, a turbo tournament shouldn't take longer than 10 hours to resolve. Even if they are still technically allowed, most players won't buy back in during the later stages of the game because the blinds will be too high.
Player Numbers: A single table turbo tournament will have a limit of ten players, while an MTT can seat a few hundred. The game will obviously take longer the more players sign up.
Description: As the name suggests, 6-max poker is a game format where only six players are allowed to play. Every player posts an ante, but only the person with the dealer button has to post a blind.
Typical Time Limit: Generally, a 6-max game can take 45 minutes to 5 hours. The games can be longer or shorter; it just depends on how aggressive or tight everyone plays.
Player Numbers: Six, duh.
Description: 4-max games are restricted to four players, no more, no less. Everyone posts an ante, but only the person with the dealer button has to post a blind.
Typical Time Limit: A 4-max game can take 30 minutes to five hours. The games can be longer or shorter; it just depends on how aggressive or tight everyone plays.
Player Numbers: Four.
2 REBUY 1 ADD ON (2R1A)/
1 REBUY 1 ADD ON (1R1A)
Description: In these tournaments, R stands for rebuy, and A means addon, players can have up to two rebuys, and one add on to increase their stack size. Many people add on immediately, making the stacks very deep at the start of the game.
Typical Time Limit: 2R1A can last longer than a standard tournament because of the options to rebuy and add extra chips. A typical game might last 2 to 6 hours; however, this can vary based on the number of tables, and players' aggression.
Player Numbers: Most of the time, 2R1A and 1R1A games won't limit how many people can join.
Description: In a shootout poker game, players need to knock out every other person at their table to win entry into the next round. Most other tournaments will merge tables once their numbers drop below a certain level; in a shootout, it's last man standing. If the name of the game has a number in front of it, such as a 7-x shootout, it means you will need to win at seven tables to claim the top prize.
Typical Time Limit: Shootouts tend to be very fast-paced, and will typically last 2 to 8 hours, depending on how many tables there are and how aggressive everyone is.
Player Numbers: Shootouts will usually have a set number of people who can enter. A standard format is ten tables of ten players, with all the winners merging for the final table.
Description: Normally, heads up is the last stage of a poker tournament, but some online casinos offer the format as a separate game type. Heads up is fast-paced and aggressive; there is very little room for tactics; it's generally all-in, or fold.
Typical Time Limit: A normal heads-up poker game will be over in less than 20 minutes.
Player Numbers: Heads up is always played between two players.
Description: A similar type to a re-entry game, 2x chance allows players to buy another starting stack for the same price as the initial buy-in. Sometimes there is a time limit for how long you can buy back in, but even if there isn't, most people won't rebuy once the blinds get to a certain level.
Typical Time Limit: 2x chance games will generally last 2 to 6 hours, depending on how many people take up the chance to buy back in.
Player Numbers: There isn't usually a cap on how many players and sign up for a 2x chance; there can be multiple tables running at once.
Description: An ante up poker format uses both blinds and antes. The blinds stay at the same level throughout the game; however, the antes increase at time intervals. Essentially the antes perform the same functions as blinds do in a normal game.
Typical Time Limit: This game type will usually last roughly 1 to 4 hours. However, if there are multiple tables, it could take up to 8 hours.
Player Numbers: There isn't usually a cap on how many players can join. Most casinos will wait until at least one table is full before they allow the game to proceed.