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An Introduction to Online Casino Tournaments

Since before we had written language, we had two things: gambling and competition against each other. These two things are key parts of who we are as human beings. As such, it’s no surprise that they’ve been combined to create some of the most popular events running today.

Online casino tournaments have enough skill to make it satisfying when you beat other players. However, they also have enough luck to keep things fun and exciting, even for lesser skilled individuals.

Something really cool about these events is that there is no standardized approach to them in the industry. This means that different sites can decide the exact rules of the events they host. While this means a lot of variety, there are still certain popular formats that get used a lot. In fact, most of the online casino tournaments ran today follow one of just a handful of different options.

Finding The Best Tournaments

Before we get into the details of what these events are and how they work, we want to show you how to find a good online casino for them in the first place, that will give you everything that you need all in one package.

A few of the standard things apply. For example, you want a reputable license, a good reputation and other promotions that match what you’re looking for. However, the following are some other points to think about before you move to a site just for the tournaments.

  1. Make sure they have events with specific games you want. It’s not enough that the games you enjoy are available in general. They also have to be available for the tournaments that run.
  2. Check the terms and conditions of their tournament events ahead of time. If they don’t match what appeals to you, then look somewhere else. With so many good options to choose from, there is no reason to compromise on this.
  3. See if tournament wagers count toward bonus wagering requirements. It’s advantageous for the player if this is the case (when applicable). This is because it helps you to effectively take part in two promotions at the same time.

Getting the most from online casino tournaments means adhering to all of the typical rules of choosing where to play. However, it also means adhering to other details like the above to make sure that the tournaments themselves are suitable. In general, it’s not too difficult to find something that will work for most players, most of the time.

The Types of Tournaments Available

Here, we will be looking at a few different types of online casino tournaments. For each, we will break down what the rules are and what the basic ideas are when playing. Additionally, we’ll show you how to decide if it’s a good option for you as an individual. From there, we’ll get into a bit of strategy on each and what to think about when trying to win.

The types of casino tournaments we’ll be looking at include the following:

  1. Head to Head Contests
  2. Leaderboards
  3. Multi-player Freeze-outs
  4. Stage Qualifiers

Each of these have some things about them that are similar and some that are different. For that reason, it’s rare for a person to have one type that they completely prefer way above the others. By following the breakdowns of each in what follows, however, you can figure out which ones appeal the most to you and see the strategies that you can use to maximize your chances of coming out on top in them.

Head to Head Casino Tournament Events

Also known as “Heads-up” tournaments, these events put players against each other in pairs. The winner of that pairing then goes on to another pairing, and the process continues. Losing in a single match-up does not necessarily mean that you’re out of the event, however. It can be the case that your total number of wins are what determines your placement in the tournament instead.

This approach can be used with a variety of different games. Perhaps you and one other person play a slot against each other. In this situation, the person with the most in winnings during the play period could be determined the winner. Another option would be a blackjack tournament where you’re given a certain number of hands to play. To keep things fair, players could each receive the same cards each time (and the dealer also). This would make the event the ultimate test of blackjack skill.

You can tell that this is a good fit for you if you like going against people one at a time. If you don’t like group-based play or leaderboards, this is the type of thing that’s for you. However, keep in mind that these events aren’t particularly common for most casino games. You typically see this format used more in poker games overall, but they are sometimes used in blackjack tournaments in particular and other types of casino games occasionally.

Head to Head Casino Tournament Strategy

The right strategy for these events is to simply focus on the task at hand. If you’re playing blackjack, just play the hands the best you possibly can. If you’re playing slots, just let the wins come as they will, and enjoy the event for what it is.

In situations where you’re allowed to increase or decrease the size of your bets, this adds another skill element. The reason for this is that changing your bet size also changes the volatility of what you’re doing. This is useful because the right volatility can change depending on whether you’re ahead or behind. For example, if you’re significantly behind with not much time left, you want as much volatility as you can get. This is because you have no other viable way to win.

Leaderboard Tournament Events

It’s probably the case that leaderboards are the most common type of casino tournament event out there. While there is some variation, there are some common elements as to how leaderboard tournaments work:

  • You’ll typically accumulate points based on total wagers made or total wins.
  • Most of these, but not all, will be limited to certain games or genres of games.
  • Tournament prize winners are determined by who gets the most points with several places paid.
  • The prize structure is usually extremely top-heavy followed by several smaller wins.
  • This gives everyone a chance to get some amount of value if they put up a moderate points total in many cases.
  • Payouts can be cash, real-world prizes, bonuses or just about anything else they can offer.

Most of the time, you’ll have a certain set period of time to earn points for these leaderboard events. However, sometimes the entire event is broken up into miniature events that last for a few days or a week. These mini events will each have their own points total and leaderboard set. The idea is to give players more chances to win if they can’t play during a certain part of the overall time period, and that’s a pretty inclusive concept. Even if this is the case, larger prizes are often given for the overall points leaders as well.

Leaderboard Casino Tournament Strategy

For better or worse, the leaderboard format doesn’t lend itself to a whole lot of strategy. You pretty much just get points for how you would play normally and hope that this lands you on the leaderboard to get some extra value that you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. However, there are some exceptions.

For example, some tournaments break up players into groups based on bet size ranges. If you’re getting points for each wager placed, you can take advantage of this. To do so, you’ll simply focus on the bet sizes that are as low as possible while still qualifying. This gives you more opportunity to play faster and worry more about the session as a whole. You’ll find this is a common setup for slots tournaments at a lot of sites.

Multi-player Freeze-out Tournament Events

If a multi-player casino tournament isn’t a leaderboard event, it’s almost always a freeze-out. A freeze-out means that you play until one player is left in contention. That last player is the overall winner. Other places are determined by who lasts the longest.

For example, you may have a blackjack tournament with players forced to play for the same bet size. They will be given a uniform starting balance, and winners are determined by who lasts the longest. To push the action along, the forced bet size can increase slightly over time. This keeps the event from taking too long.

Most players consider these to be more skill-oriented than other options. However, when the bet sizes increase, luck becomes more of a factor. This means that you get a balance of the two, which is ideal for casino tournaments in general.

Multi-player Freeze-out Casino Tournament Strategy

Generally speaking, these events usually happen with games that already have a significant strategic component. As such, you should be strategically sound with the game that’s actually being played. However, certain adjustments to strategy have to be used to compensate for the change in how wins are awarded.

For example, outlasting an opponent who is close to being knocked out can be more important than playing perfectly. In blackjack, you may avoid splitting or doubling while you wait on an opponent who is close to busting to finally lose, especially if that means that alternative would be putting yourself into a position where you could end up with a lower account balance yourself.

This really only applies to situations where you’re already deep in the event, and players are winning prizes. Earlier in the tournament, you won’t need to make any type of real adjustment outside of playing normally. Solid strategy goes a lot way here, but luck will often ultimately determine the order of the top winners.

Stage Qualifier Tournament Events

We have included stage qualifier events here even though they aren’t necessarily tournaments depending on the specific rules involved. Sometimes, they only require that you put in a certain amount of wagers in a given period of time to qualify for the next stage. As such, there’s not much of a competitive element in those cases.

However, in other cases, you do have competitive elements that eliminate players on each stage. Those are the events we are focused on here.

For an example of how these events could work, consider the following. Suppose you get to play a certain online slot for a 48-hour period. During that period, players receive points for every win they get that’s worth more than 100 times their bet size. Everyone who scores more than 100 points, for example, moves on to the second stage.

From that second stage on, you have to be in the top one-third of remaining players to proceed after having 48-hour periods to accumulate points. Your points from previous stages do not carry over, so you have to accumulate new points over and over to bet competitive.

You’ll often see this type of tournament paired with some kind of reload bonus that’s viable for the game or games being played. This allows all players, no matter how much they play, to pick up some amount of value from the event as a whole.

Stage Qualifier Casino Tournament Strategy

Strategy for these events is actually pretty straightforward. If the amount you need to play to be competitive is outside of the amount you would normally play a single game, then what you want to do is focus on putting the minimal amount of play in to make sure that you make it to the next stage.

To do this, you can look at a few pieces of available information. First, point totals for the previous stages will almost always be made available. You can use this to try to estimate how many points you’ll need to qualify for the following stage. Also, players are often given live point totals for the current stage. This information can be used to see about where you expect to land in the rankings.

This will obviously have some degree of estimation to it, but that’s really the only thing that you can do to try to get an additional edge beyond simply playing as much as humanly possible, which isn’t a viable strategy for virtually anyone.


Different kinds of players are going to be drawn to different kinds of events. The good news is that a lot of different types of casino tournament events exist. The bad news is that you’ll find no standard rule set used across the industry for any of them.

Some people view this as a major negative because you don’t necessarily know what you’re going to get without doing a lot of reading and researching. However, if you keep in mind that there are really only a few types, then you’ll have an easier time.

Using the strategies that we have laid out for each type here will give you an edge on the competition. This is even the case with tournaments for games that are considered pure luck. By making tournament-specific adjustments, you’ll get a better outcome than the average player over time.


Where can I find online casino tournaments?

It’s easy to find online tournaments – use the top list of online casinos with tournaments to see and compare all your options.

What games can I play in an online casino tournament?

The most common game type in an online casino tournament is slots. This is an obvious choice as slots are also the most popular games at any casino.

Other games that can be included in tournaments are card games like Blackjack and table games like Roulette.

Check out the details of the tournament to see which games are included.