Unique Online Tournaments, Part II
Party Poker's 'HellKat' Tournaments
These time-based tournaments were recently added to Party Poker's sit-'n'-go offerings. Their premise is simple: rather than a sit-'n'-go tournament that is played until one person has all the chips, HellKat tournaments are played with a timer. When the time expires, the top three remaining players are paid according to Party Poker's standard sit-'n'-go payout structure.
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Currently, there are two styles of HellKat tournaments, ones with fixed finishing times and ones without fixed finishing times. The fixed finishing games end when the clock counts down to zero. Games are offered with timers of 5, 15, 30, 40, or 60 minutes. The games without fixed finishing times may end up to 10% earlier than their scheduled time. For example, a 60-minute long tournament without a fixed finishing time could end at random up to 6 minutes early.
At the time this article was written, the only $3 and $6 buy-in HellKat tournaments were available. I predict these tournaments will grow in popularity and eventually be played for higher stakes. It also would not surprise me if other online poker rooms copied Party Poker's idea and implemented time-based sit-'n'-gos of their own.
Pros: A quick-fix for those wanting to play a tournament but have limited time. Since these style of tournaments mandate a new style of strategy, it is likely the games will be very fishy until players wise up to factoring in the impact of the timer on their decisions.
Cons: Currently, only small stakes are available and the entry fees are huge ($2.40+$.60 and $5+$1).
Best For: Small-stakes tournament players looking to exploit stupid decisions by weak players, anyone wanting to play a tournament that lasts just a few minutes, and anyone intrigued by this new style of poker.
Tony G Poker's Bounty Tournaments
Most nights at 14:00 EST, Tony G Poker holds a $10+$1 bounty tournament where $100 is awarded to the player who busts Tony G from the event. It could probably be safely assumed that Tony G will bust out of these tournaments quickly since it's doubtful he cares to spend much of his time in a $10+$1 tournament. So if you're lucky enough to find Tony at your starting table, don't be bashful about taking a stab at eliminating him. Winning 10x the tournament buy-in just for knocking out a certain player isn't a deal you're likely to come by often.
Pros: The $100 bounty essentially amounts to an entry fee discount for this $10+$1 tournament, so it's worth playing if you're a small-stakes MTTer.
Cons: To actually win the $100, you'll need to be lucky enough to have Tony G at your table and lucky enough to get him to give you all of his chips. Don't expect those conditions to rise often.
Best For: Small stakes multi-table tournament players looking for some extra value.
Everest Poker's Free Tournaments
Not often in the poker world does an opportunity arise to win something for nothing. Everest Poker gives their players this proposition around the clock with their freeroll sit-'n'-gos. They have 10-player tournaments with $.10 prize pools and 6-player tournaments with $.07 prize pools. Sometimes only the 10-player tournaments are available. These tournaments are insanely popular and usually fill up within a couple of seconds. Not surprisingly, the competition in these tournaments is atrocious, making this a prime spot for players hoping to build a bankroll from thin-air.
Pros: Free money.
Cons: Only limit betting is played in these freerolls.
Best For: Players wanting to play real-money online poker without ever having to make a deposit.
InterPoker's Thunder Tournaments
If you're looking for a place to play sit-'n'-gos on crack, InterPoker's Thunder Tournaments may be just for you. These tournaments allot players just 12 seconds to make each decision. A 30-second time bank is provided to ponder difficult plays. Blinds increase every 6 minutes. To further speed up gameplay, all losing and uncalled winning hands are auto-mucked.
These tournaments are very popular. Most of them are played six-handed and there is usually action at stakes ranging from $2 up to $100.
Pros: Mandatory rapid decisions cause weak players to feel pressured, which leads to them making more mistakes.
Cons: Ultimately, luck is a huge factor in determining the outcome of these tournaments.
Best For: Poker players with attention deficit disorder.
Gnuf's Rounders Tournaments
These tournaments are very similar to Party Poker's Steps sit-'n'-gos. The main difference is that Gnuf doesn't hammer you on entry fees. These tournaments are broken down into five tiers. Only at the top tier ($550+$55 buy-in) are there actually cash prizes. The lowest four tiers simply funnel players upward into higher buy-in tournaments. For example, in the bottom tier ($5+$.50 buy-in), the top two finishers win a seat to round two, which has a $25+$2.50 buy-in.
Gnuf has structured these Rounders tournaments in a way that you really only pay an entry fee in the first tournament you play. Thereon, the games are basically vig-free until you drop out, that is, fail to win a seat to the next tier. Small stakes players should give serious thought to starting these tournaments at the $5+$.50 level and trying to parlay it into a $3,000 payday (the first-place payout at the top tier).
Pros: Extremely low vig.
Cons: Trying to start at the first tier and climb to a payout finish at the fifth tier involves a lot of variance and could lead to a lot of heartbreak. These might be worth skipping if you're prone to going on tilt and punting away a lot of money after busting out of tournaments.
Best For: Anyone with the patience to handle these ladder-style sit-'n'-gos.