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Poker Tournament Structures

There are several different structures that may be used for poker tournaments. Most of the tournaments that you see on television, such as the WSOP, use a freeze-out structure. For any event you can pick the structure you prefer as long as it is clear to the participants before the start of the tournament. Listed below are the ones pertinent to fundraisers.


Players receive equal amounts of chips and are eliminated from the tournament as soon as they lose all of their chips. Once you lose your chips, you're gone! This type of structure is fine for professionals and casinos but may be a bit too harsh for a friendly poker tournament during a fundraiser party.


You can buy more chips when you go broke or when you are close to going broke. Some tournaments allow only one re-buy while some tournaments allow multiple re-buys. The re-buy period is limited to the first few blinds levels. The drawback to this is for the experienced player they feel that the inexperienced players have too many chances to win. The positive side is that every time someone buys back in, more money is being donated to the charity, and the prize pool.

Shootout or Shotgun

Each table plays down to one winner. All the table winners then face each other.

Free Roll

A tournament that costs nothing to enter. There is no buy-in fee, players play for fun or for prizes put up by the host.

Guaranteed Payout

A tournament with a guaranteed minimum payout regardless of the number of players that show.