Multi-Table Poker Tournaments at Ignition


When you buy into a cash game at Ignition Poker, you can sit down at the virtual table and get up whenever you want. Your chips are yours to cash in after any hand is over. It’s a totally on-demand experience.

MTT poker tournaments work a bit differently. MTT stands for Multi-Table Tournament; these events have room for lots of different players, so one table isn’t enough. Here’s a quick look at how MTTs work at Ignition, and what strategies you should use to get the largest possible share of the prize pool.


Join and Play MTT Now

How Do MTTs Work?

The key difference between an MTT and a cash game is that players are locked into the tournament until they either win or get eliminated. You can’t simply take your chips and walk away – tournament chips cannot be exchanged for cash.

Instead of bringing your stack of chips to the table, you and your fellow tournament players buy in for the same amount, and receive the same number of chips. Then the tournament begins, starting with the blinds set relatively low; these blinds will increase at regular intervals, which forces players to mix it up before they run out of chips.

Over time, the players that are winning the most hands will accumulate huge stacks, while the less fortunate are eliminated. As more of these players are removed from the tournament, fewer tables are required, until eventually the last survivors meet at the final table and play until a winner is crowned.

You usually don’t have to win the entire MTT to take home a prize. Most tournaments aren’t winner-take-all; instead, the players who finish in the top 20% or thereabouts will earn a share of the prize pool. These payouts will be smallest for the players who get eliminated just after the “money bubble” bursts, then escalate gradually, with the lion’s share going to the champion.

MTTs – Terms to Know

  • Cashing / ITM / In the Money – Players who are eliminated late enough to earn a prize amount are said to have “cashed.” Making it to this point is known as being “in the money” (ITM). For example, if a tournament has 100 entrants and the Top 10 are paid, those 10 players remaining after the 11th is eliminated will celebrate being ITM.
  • The Bubble – The final player eliminated without a payout signals the bursting of the “money bubble” or “ITM bubble.” There can be other bubbles in a tournament, such as the final table bubble – even if making the final table doesn’t necessarily earn you a larger prize.
  • Levels – The blinds increase according to a set schedule and by set amounts as the tournament progresses. If the blind levels begin at 15/30, they may progress to 30/60 after a 10-minute interval, and then 50/100 another 10 minutes after that. The levels will keep increasing to ensure that the tournament crowns a winner in a reasonable amount of time.
  • BreakIgnition online tournaments often have scheduled breaks of a few minutes (longer for live events) so that players can go to the bathroom, get food, or get up and stretch. These breaks are especially important for tournaments that have thousands of players and take several hours or even days to complete.
  • Hand-for-hand play – When the money bubble (or sometimes the final table bubble) is about to burst, simultaneous play at all tables may stop in favor of hand-for-hand play, where each table takes its turn finishing their hand. This helps prevent players from stalling too much, and makes it easier to sort out who gets paid when multiple people get knocked out at the same time.
  • Payout structure – The payout structure refers to the list of escalating payments received by players in order of elimination. Typically, payouts to the first players eliminated are quite small, around the size of a buy-in; these players are said to have “min-cashed” the tournament. The prizes increase gradually and then spike upward for the biggest winners at the final table.
  • Satellite – It is possible to win a tournament ticket as a prize instead of money. A tournament that offers seats at a tournament with a larger buy-in is called a “satellite” tournament, or sometimes just a “qualifying” event.
  • Chip leader – The player with the largest chip total at any given moment of a tournament is the chip leader. One hand can change everything, though. The chip leader isn’t necessarily going to win – they might not even make the money, if they go on tilt or have a bad run of cards.

MTT Tournament Strategy

Your poker strategy should always be adapted to the type of game you’re playing. Multi-Table Tournament strategy requires you to change gears at the right times to play optimally.

Early Stage

At the start of a MTT, you typically have a lot of chips and the blinds are small (especially at a Monster Stack tournament). In theory, your stack is deep enough for you to play tons of hands, but with the blind levels so low, you should actually tighten up your starting hand standards compared to a cash game. However, pay attention to everyone else at the table and how they’re playing; if they’re too tight, you can take advantage by loosening your range and playing more hands.

Middle Stage

As people lose chips and become shorter stacks, you’re going to find them going all-in quite frequently. As a rule of thumb, once a player is down to 10-15 big blinds, the only smart plays they have at their disposal are to shove or fold.

You might still have a healthy stack at this point, but with all these short stacks potentially getting in the way, you should be less interested in opening speculative hands like baby suited connectors in Texas Hold’em. These hands require deeper “effective” stacks to be played profitably; when you’re up against a shorter stack, the amount of chips they have represents the effective stack size. Don’t get too frisky with these speculative starting hands unless you and your opponents each have at least 40 big blinds, and preferably a lot more.


As the bubble approaches, most of those short-stackers start clinging to their tournament lives. They REALLY don’t want to get eliminated so close to the money. Everyone is folding left and right, so if you’ve got a large enough chip stack, this is a fine time to steal the blinds and apply pressure. Be ready for a shove in response to those preflop raises, though, and if you get short yourself, folding your way into the money may be your best option.

In The Money

Congratulations: You’re getting paid! But so are all the remaining short-stackers, and now they’re incentivized to get much more aggressive. There will likely be a flurry of eliminations, so plan accordingly based on the size of your stack and everyone else’s around you.

Final Table Bubble

Many poker players are invested emotionally in making the final table, so they’re prone to tightening up at this stage, just as if they were approaching the money bubble. If you have the chip lead, look for opportunities to apply pressure. Don’t get trapped, though. These players will be crafty, so take notes and observe carefully – you might be heads-up against one of these people at the end of the tournament!

Final Table

Making the final table requires a certain amount of luck as well as skill. Once you’re here, the prizes often get much larger with every player eliminated, and each pay jump is a bubble of sorts. Continue to monitor everyone’s stack size, yours included, and make the appropriate plays to take advantage.

MTTs vs. SNGs

If you don’t have enough room in your schedule for an MTT, there’s another type of tournament at Ignition Poker called a Sit & Go (SNG). These mini-tournaments start as soon as the required number of players has signed up – it can be as few as two players for a heads-up SNG. Most of these events are played at a single-table, so you can use many of the same strategies you would at the final table of a MTT, keeping in mind that everyone will start with deeper stacks.

We also offer a special type of SNG at Ignition called a “Jackpot Sit & Go.” These are three-player, winner-take-all SNGs with a random prize of up to 1,500x your buy-in. If you want a quick taste of tournament action, Jackpot Sit & Gos will be right up your alley.

Itching to play a tourney? Check out our tournaments page at Ignition Poker and find a buy-in that’s right for you. We have all kinds of tournaments on our schedule, with guaranteed prize pools of up to $1 million, and sometimes even more for major events like the annual Golden Spade Poker Open. MTT tournament glory could be yours, so get in the game today, and best of luck on the felt.


Download Ignition Poker