There are many different types of tournaments, and the sheer variety can seem staggering to the beginner who is just getting into poker. There are tournaments common to casinos, and others much more common to online play. There are two basic structures of tournaments: re-buys and regular or “freeze outs.” In a freeze out tournament everyone starts out with exactly identical number of chips. In these types of tournaments, if you lose all your chips, you are out. In a re-buy tournament there is a limited amount of time where if you lose all your chips you are allowed to buy back the original starting amount of chips by paying an additional entrance fees. Some have limits on re-buys, others allow as many as needed until a certain time period where it is no longer allowed.
In a freeze out Casino Extra tournament (the majority will be these types) you will need to use a more conservative strategy, since there are no second chances. In a re-buy tournament usually players will be extremely aggressive (often overly so) early on in an attempt to double up or triple their chip stack since they can just buy more chips if they lose. Some players strongly believe in playing aggressively to get that early horde of chips, others insist on waiting for a very strong hand, since most likely you will have two or three callers in a re-buy even when you have a strong hand.
Those are both large scale tournaments, and are the most likely to be found in any casino you walk into. The large table tournaments have been made increasingly popular by the large upsurge of viewers who watch the World Series of Poker on ESPN or the World Poker Tour. These types of tournaments are often found at any online poker site, and are referred to as Multi-table tournaments. These are in comparison to Sit-and-Go Tournaments, which normally can only be found online. Sit-and-Go Casino Extra tournaments are tournaments set up for a specific number of players (anywhere from only 2 for a heads up game to I’ve seen up to 45). These are made possible because of online poker rooms, allowing individuals who don’t let the odds or feel of larger tournaments to sit down at a table, start out even with everyone, and still compete for some amount of money.
The tournaments move along by increasing the blinds (or antes, depending on what game you are playing) every so often. Online these might be done by minutes, such as a raise every five, ten, or twenty minutes, or by number of hands (such as once every 15 hands). Most larger casinos and larger online tournaments will move the blinds more slowly, while smaller casinos and smaller tournaments will move more quickly. Just pay attention to the details, as every tournament will list all this information to allow you to make a decision before playing. When you find one you like, go for it! Have fun, and good luck.