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Bar Poker Tournaments vs. Casino Poker Tournaments

If you have never played in a bar poker tournament, you may be wondering what the big draw is. Why play bar poker instead of heading to the nearest casino to play? After all, playing in a casino can be exciting, fun, and incredibly lucrative if you know what you are doing. So can playing in a bar poker league, though. It offers a great environment for beginners, and is also a great opportunity for long-time players to continue to hone their game and maybe even get a shot at the championships. Let’s look at some of the key differences between bar poker tournaments and casino poker tournaments.


When you play in a casino tournament, you are playing in the casino environment. If that environment is part of what you find thrilling about gambling, it makes sense to join casino poker tournaments. If you are a newbie though and you find the casino floor a little too intimidating, you may love the friendlier, more relaxed atmosphere of a bar poker tournament. Bar poker tournaments are held at local pubs, restaurants, and other venues. You may already be familiar with some of them—and make some great discoveries at nights where tournaments are hosted in venues you have never visited. With less pressure, you may find yourself learning faster and doing better, and ultimately finding yourself better positioned to ultimately make money with poker.


Rules can vary depending on where you play poker. There have been attempts in recent years to formalize the rules of Texas Hold’em for major tournaments like the WSOP. Still, at different casino tournaments and bar poker league tournaments, you may encounter slight variations on the rules. That is something you will want to be cogent of as you are playing, especially if you end up with a table buy-in at a casino game or major championship as a result of your bar poker wins.


In some towns you will find poker clubs which are set up for very casual game play, but many towns offer very serious bar poker leagues which are designed to give you a professional-level experience comparable to any you would have at a casino. Dealers are professionally trained, as are tournament directors. Players are treated with the same level of professional courtesy and fairness they could expect at any casino. Tournament results are posted online immediately and available for all to see.


When you play a casino poker game, there is always a minimum buy-in to sit at the table. For casino tournaments, the buy-in can range quite widely. Expect to put down $40 to $50 for many lower buy-in games, and hundreds of dollars at higher end games. If you cannot afford the buy-in fee or you are a beginner and you are not ready for that kind of risk, you will be excited to hear that bar poker leagues do not require buy-ins at all! Most will allow you to play for FREE. The bar poker league provides a set number of chips to tournament players and you work your way up the ladders from there.

Points, Prizes, and Cash

If you have no buy-in, you do not have a chance to win real money while playing at a bar poker tournament, right? Wrong. You are generally playing for points when you play at a bar poker league. Those points can be traded in for prizes, though, including cash. There are a variety of different events hosted by most poker leagues, including standard and special events. Some game types and tournaments are designed specifically to replicate the games you would play at a casino, while others are not.

Some poker leagues are not really “leagues” so much as clubs which allow players to compete for nightly prizes or monthly points. But there are many bar poker leagues which really are leagues in the very real sense of the word, and offer a buy-in at the World Series of Poker to their top-ranking player at the end of the season. This gives you a shot at WSOP winnings—which of course are quite substantial. This is a great “back door” into the WSOP. So whether you play at casino tournaments or bar poker league tournaments, you have a shot at joining the big boys.


Bar poker leagues offer a final advantage you are not likely to find at a casino. While casinos are often frequented by the same players, they are bustling, hectic places, very different from the bars and restaurants where league tournaments are hosted. In a bar poker league environment, you have a real chance to make lasting friendships, business connections, and relationships. Bar poker leagues knit community members together and allow them to share in something fun, competitive, and rewarding.

As you can see, in many ways, casino and bar poker league tournaments offer similar experiences. At their best, they both offer professional quality and an opportunity to win plenty of money, but bar poker leagues offer extra advantages in the form of variety, free game play, and community connection.

How to Track Your Poker League Stats

What’s the secret to running a successful poker league? Statistics! Players show up to your poker tournaments in order to compete. They are there to test their skills against other players and see who comes out on top. They’re there to have fun too, but competition is a huge part of the fun for the majority of poker league players, and that is why it is vital to keep track of your poker league stats and share them with your players as efficiently as possible.

What are you currently doing to keep track of your stats? Are you writing them down manually and transferring them to your website one by one? Do you have to go through a complicated routine to get them posted? Do you have to wait until you get home in order to upload them on your desktop computer? Are you using Excel?

With our Poker Leaderboards, you can use our Poker League Software to post and update your tournament results right away. Our software allows you to quickly and easily input your player points for each of your individual venue events as well as your overall league events. You can upload the information through your desktop or laptop computer, or you can use your mobile device to input the information. That means if you are in a venue with WiFi connection, you do not even have to wait until you get home to upload the latest results! You can do it right then and there. The software will automatically save all league results and create or update the leaderboards for you on your website or Facebook page.

Yes, you can technically do all of this using Excel, but only with a ton of extra steps added to the process. Before we created this software, we were spending hours every week trying to manage the leaderboards. Now we can do it in a matter of minutes. This not only saves us a tremendous amount of time, allowing us to focus our energies on improving other aspects of our poker league, but it also allows our players to see their wins and losses reflected right away.

Our software is highly customizable, so you can choose scoring solutions which suit your league based on the way you run events. The league structure can also be customized, and you can post individualized stats for each of your players. Divide up the results automatically according to venues, seasons, regions, and sub-regions. Merge results as needed and correct any errors you find manually and easily.

To top off the benefits, keeping your leaderboards actively updated is an excellent promotional tool. People who are interested in your league will get excited by the changing leaderboards, and will want to be part of the action. You will probably find that traffic to your events increases significantly after you upgrade your leaderboard solution. And the best part of all? Our Poker League Software is ad-supported and FREE to use. You can upgrade to a paid Executive Account if you want to enjoy some extra features. If you do choose to pay for the program, you will find it pays for itself in no time in terms of time and hassle saved, not to mention money earned through increased league popularity!