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Structure

Betting Structures - Tournament Structure

by Jesse Knight
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Tournament Structure
Structure -
1. The set of rules governing the betting in a limit cash game.
2. The number and size of blinds and/or antes in a game.
3. The set of rules and conditions under which a poker tournament is played.
4. The set of rule and conditions governing the payout of a prize pool.


The term “structure” can mean different things, depending upon the context in which it is used. It is used disparately in cash games as well as in tournament play. Structure frequently refers to the design of a game, or the rules that govern its play.

In a limit cash game, the betting is referred to as being structured. This means that the bet amounts are preset, and for the most part, the only decision for the bettor is to bet or not bet. Contrast that with the unstructured betting in a no-limit game, where any player can basically bet any amount more than the minimum at any time. In a pot limit game, the upper limit on the betting is constrained by the size of the pot. This is sometimes referred to as semi-structured betting.

While a limit game by definition has structured betting, each game may have its own betting structure. The default betting structure for a limit game is to use the small bet during the first two betting rounds and the large bet on all betting rounds thereafter. The size of the game is determined by the size of the large and small bets, with this information included in the game’s description when a player signs up at the board. Therefore, a 2/4 Hold’em game would be structured with a two dollar small bet and a four dollar large bet. Sometimes you may find a game in which the traditional betting or blind arrangement is altered in some way. Any such change constitutes a change in the game’s structure.

While no limit and pot limit games are not generally regarded as having betting structures, they do have blind structures. Since there are no predefined bet amounts in these games, the size of the game is defined largely by the size and number of blinds. Most Hold’em games will have one small blind and one large blind, and in some situations a third blind or antes may also be part of the structure. As is also the case with betting structure in a limit game, the information on blind structure is included with the game’s description when a player signs up at the board. For example, 5/10 No Limit Holdem game would have a small blind of five dollars and a large blind of ten. It is not uncommon to see a game with unstructured betting vary the number, size and placement of the blinds. All of this constitutes a change in structure.

In addition to betting being structured and blinds having structure, poker tournaments are also described as having structure. When a player is talking about the way a tournament is structured, they are typically discussing some major aspect that affects play, like starting chips, size or rate of level increases, or prize distribution.

Most tournament players, especially those who play in higher buy-in events, like to have more playing time rather than less. This benefits the stronger players, as luck becomes a greater factor as playing time decreases. Events with short rounds are widely regarded as being crap shoots. On the other hand, events which are structured with a plentiful number of starting chips, longer rounds, and less drastic blind increases tend to be more popular. How a casino chooses to structure a tournament can have a major impact on turnout.

Players may also have strong opinions about the way a tournament payout is structured. Many tournaments pay out roughly 10% of the field. Some tournaments will be structured with either steeper or flatter pay schedules. A flatter payout would allow a greater number of players to get paid, but would result in lower payouts for those at the top. A steeper payout accomplishes just the opposite, reducing the number of players paid out and increasing amount each paid player receives. An extreme example of this would be a winner-take-all event, where one player receives the entire prize pool. Certain players may prefer one type of payout over another. For instance players who play on short money typically prefer flatter payouts, because this reduces bankroll fluctuations.

Usage: Betting Structure, Tournament Structure, Good Structure, Payout Structure, Blind Structure

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