How to play – Cash games and tournaments

Cash games

Cash games (also known as ring games) are poker games where players play with real money, i.e. the player chooses the amount that he or she wishes to sit down with.

There are limits as to how much or how little a player can buy into the game for. These are indicated by the game's maximum and minimum ‘buy-in' amount. At Coral, the minimum buy-in is 35 big blinds and the maximum is 100 big blinds (so in a €0.50 - €1 game, the minimum buy-in is €35 and the maximum is €100).

Once a hand begins, players can only use the chips already in front of them when betting. You cannot buy more chips whilst a hand is in play but additional chips may purchased for use at the start of the next hand. The purchase of additional chips is not allowed if the player already has a stack of chips equal to or exceeding, the maximum buy-in allowance.

Players wishing to play a cash game can join a table already in play (so long as there is a seat available) and can leave at any time (if you leave a table while a hand is still in play the default action will be to check/fold until the hand is resolved).

  • The number of players at a cash game table varies from two up to ten: ‘Heads up' – is a game for just two players
  • ‘Short-handed' (also known as ‘six max') - is a game for six players
  • ‘Full-handed' (also known as ‘full ring') – is a game for 9 or 10 players


There are two types of tournaments to choose from: Sit and Go (SNGs) and scheduled Multi Table Tournaments (MTTs).

SNG tournaments have a cap on the maximum number of entrants (this can be anything from 2 players upwards) and the tournament starts when that number of players has been reached.

MTTs have a specific start time and will begin regardless of the number of entrants.

In tournaments, every player at the table buys in for the same amount and receives the same number of chips to play with. The blinds increase (according to the structure) until the tournament ends when one person has won all of the chips in play.

If two or more players are eliminated in the same hand, the player with the most chips at the start of the hand will be placed higher. If the chips are tied then the players will finish in the same position and any prizes they win will be split.

In most tournaments you can only lose your initial buy in which makes tournaments a great way to learn how to play with minimal risk.

MTT Tournament variations:


Freezouts are the most common type of poker tournament. Players are all given the same amount of chips at the beginning of the tournament and play until only one player remains.


Rebuys are tournaments where players can "rebuy" more chips for an allotted period of time. In most rebuy tournaments the rebuy amount is the same as the initial buy in, and the chips awarded equal to the starting stack.

For example, a €5 rebuy tournament has a starting stack of 1500 and awards 1500 chips for a €5 rebuy.

Therefore if a player loses all their chips they can rebuy and continue to play as long as the rebuy period is not over. Most rebuy tournaments will also have a chip limit which players must be under to be able to rebuy – this is usually equivalent to the starting stack.

Add on:

Once the rebuy time period is over all remaining players may be given the opportunity to make one final rebuy called an "add on". An add on can be performed no matter what amount of chips a player has.

Once the rebuy period is over and players have had the opportunity to claim their add on the tournament plays out like a freezeout until only one player remains.

N.B. It is not unusual for rebuy tournaments to follow different structures where more chips are awarded for rebuys and add ons. Make sure you are aware of the tournament structure before you register so you can play accordingly.


These are tournaments where the prize pool awards entrance tickets to a larger tournament. The prizepool is dependent on the value of the buy-in and the value of the tickets won.

 For example:  A satellite tournament with a €10+€1 buy-in has €100+€8 tickets as prizes.  It will pay out one €100+€8 ticket for every 11 players registered.  If 50 players were registered when the tournament started it would pay out 4 x€108 tickets (€432) and the 5th place will get the remaining €62.

Satellite tournaments can vary greatly and the prizes can range from simple online tickets to packages to the WSOP.


These are tournaments which are free to enter.

Guaranteed tournaments: (GT)

Guaranteed tournaments are MTTs which guarantee a prizepool amount even if the number of buy-ins from the registered players is less when the tournament starts.

Deepstack: (DS)

These are tournaments where players start with more chips than usual. In most cases this is double the standard starting stacks for similar tournaments.

Shorthanded: (SH)

These are 6 handed tournaments.


It is not unusual for a tournament to be a combination of the variations mentioned. For example, a "€10k Guaranteed Shorthanded Deepstack" would have 6 player per table , players would receive a double starting stack and would have a €10k guaranteed prize pool.

Tournament speed:

The length of time a tournament will last is defined by the starting stack and the speed at which the levels increase.

A deepstacked tournament with long levels will always be longer than a tournament with a fast level structure and less chips.


Most tournaments also incorporate antes once a certain blind level has been reached. The ante is a small compulsory bet (around 10% of the big blind) which is paid by all players at the table in addition to the Small and Big blind (the players in the blinds also have to post antes).


Turbo tournaments are tournaments with very fast structures, designed to finish very quickly. The blind levels are faster than a normal tournament.

There are huge guaranteed tournaments every single day culminating in the 200k guaranteed on Sunday at 5pm

Tournament Considerations:

Time to complete:

If you are not prepared to sit and play for several hours you should not enter large (non-turbo) MTTs. Tournaments with several hundred runners will take hours to complete (over 4) so be prepared to go the distance.  Short breaks will normally be included in the tournament structure and can be seen in the tournament lobby in advance.

Stack vs Blinds:

It is very important in tournaments to consider your own stack and opponents stacks in relation to the current blind level. The most common method is to count the stacks in terms of "number of big blinds". A stack of 30BB + is a large stack, around 20BB is ok but a stack of 10BB or less and the chips should be going in the middle very shortly.

In the same way it is important to consider an opponent's stack (in relation to your own) when playing a pot against them. Is your tournament life at risk?

Average stack:

The average stack displayed is the number of chips divided by the number of players remaining in a tournament.

The Bubble:

The bubble is the last position which does not get paid in a tournament. When the bubble is reached, MTTs will play out on a hand for hand basis across all tables until the bubble has gone.

Approaching the bubble in tournaments makes some players play very few hands and other players (usually with big stacks) to play more aggressively to exploit the situation. A short stacked player will not call without a premium hand if they can simply hang on a few more hands to reach the payout so it is easy for bigger stacks to exploit them by betting more chips than they have. The shortstack is then forced to fold most hands as they are playing for their tournament life and the big stack scoops the pot.

How to play