Tournament Types

Do you want to play in the world’s biggest online poker room? In the biggest tournaments? For the biggest prize pools? Well, you’re in the right place. We run the most tournaments, in the most poker variants, in the most tournament types. You’ll find links above to explanations of all of our different tournament options, from Sit & Go’s to Multi-Table Tournaments, to Satellites.

Click here to find Tournaments available to play right now.

How poker tournaments work

All players start a standard poker tournament with the same amount of chips. As play goes on, the compulsory blinds and antes increase at regular intervals, and when a player loses all of their chips, they are out of the tournament. The last player standing is declared the winner, and is rewarded with the biggest portion of the prize pool.

How to play in one of our tournaments

You can find tournaments listed under the Tourney tab (desktop), or under the Tournament tab accessed via the Lobby (mobile). Other types of tournaments can be found under the relevant tabs, such as Sit & Go. Selecting any tournament allows you to find out everything you need to know, from the game being played to the buy-in, structure, and also whether registration is open. Click ‘Register’ to play the tournament.

In all of our tournaments, each player is assigned a random seat and table. In games with a rotating dealer, the dealer button will start on seat 1. Players are only given a certain amount of time to act - if you take too long, a reminder will appear and you may also be given the option to activate the ‘Time Bank’ to get some extra time to think.

Clicking on the ‘Info’ tab in the table window allows you to find out up-to-date information about the tournament - such as your current position and the average chip stack. More detailed information about the tournament can be seen in the tournament lobby.

Poker Tournament Money (T-Money)

With rare exceptions, if you win a seat to an event via one of our satellite tournaments, you can choose to unregister and receive T-Money instead. T-Money can then be used to register for other tournaments. Please note that T-Money is not the same as real money, because you can’t use it in cash games or withdraw it. You can check your T-Money balances at any time by clicking the ‘Cashier’.

On some occasions, we may need to unregister you from a tournament on your behalf. If you find that you need us to do this, visit our Help Center to find out ways to contact us, and we will be happy to assist you. Don’t forget to provide the ID number of the tournament that you want to unregister from.

Guaranteed Tournaments

In many of our cash tournaments, the prize pool is guaranteed to reach a specific amount. To see the full range of these tournaments, visit the ‘Tourney’ lobby and enter ‘GTD’ in the tournament filter.

Heads-Up Tournaments

Also called a 1-on-1 tournament, players in Heads-Up tournaments are matched in pairs, and play a ‘bracket’ tournament until there is only one player left. Just as in other Shootout tournaments, late registration is not allowed in Heads-Up tournaments. For most Heads-Up Multi-Table Tournaments, the time limit for unregistration is five minutes (as opposed to two minutes in most other tournaments). Please check the Tournament Info window for details regarding unregistration from any specific tournament.

There may not always be a number divisible by the power of two (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64) registered for a particular Heads-Up tournament, which is necessary to fill a ‘bracket’. When this happens, not all players will be able to play the first round and will receive a ‘bye’.

For example, if 10 players enter a Heads-Up tournament, there would be more than 8 but fewer than 16 players. In order to play the tournament out properly, the tournament will first need to be brought down to 8 players. In order to get the number down from 10 to 8 players, 4 players will play (thus eliminating two) and 6 players will get a ‘bye’ and are automatically in the quarter-finals.

We offer Heads-Up tournaments with byes and without byes. This is clearly marked if you click the ‘Tournament Info’ button in the tournament lobby. If a tournament does not allow ‘byes’, the last players to register may have their buy-ins returned in order to get the event to a starting total of players which is a power of two (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 etc). In the above example (with 10 players entered) the last two players to register would not get to play, as 8 is the nearest power of two which is less than 10.

Many Heads-Up tournaments have a ‘Show Bracket’ button in the lobby where you can see a visual representation of how the matches will play out.

Hyper-Turbo

A Hyper-Turbo event is one in which the blind levels increase extremely quickly – even faster than in a turbo tournament. The length of each round (before the blinds/antes increase) in a Hyper-Turbo Tournament is usually 3 minutes.

Hyper-Turbo satellites are a great way to quickly win your seat in an event just a few minutes before it begins.

6-Max and 4-Max

‘6-Max’ in the tournament's title indicates that at each table there will be 6 seats, instead of the usual 7 to 10 (depending on the game). We also offer '4-Max' events with 4 seats at each table.

Some poker variations are always played with 6 or fewer seats at the table. Examples are 8-Game Mix and Deuce to Seven (2-7) Triple Draw.

Please note that in 4-Max tournaments, the final table will form when 5 players remain. This is done to remove the inequity of having one table play 3-handed and the other one heads-up.

Multi-Table Tournaments

In a Multi-Table Tournament (MTT), players start with an equal, fixed number of chips. Players at numerous tables compete for one another's chips as the blinds and/or antes increase incrementally. When you run out of chips, you are eliminated from the tournament. As players are eliminated, tables are ‘broken’, meaning players are moved to keep tables full, or evenly ‘balanced’. Eventually, the last few surviving players with chips are brought together at the final table, where the winner is the individual who wins all the chips from his or her opponents. Cash prizes are awarded to top finishers based on the number of tournament entries.

Phased Tournaments

A Phased tournament is one in which some number of levels at the beginning of the tournament are played non-concurrently from the end of the tournament, for different groups of players. Players can choose from different starting phases that begin at different times. Each starting phase will play the same amount of time, and then all remaining players will later combine in a single, larger tournament. Phased tournaments allow the schedule flexibility normally associated with smaller-field tournaments, while still enjoying the large prize pools associated with larger-field tournaments. Chip counts at the end of Phase 1 will be carried over into the next round.

For example, a tournament might have Phase 1 on Friday at 12:00, another Phase 1 on Saturday at 12:00, and then conclude with a Phase 2 tournament on Sunday at 12:00. Entrants would play for a specified number of levels (or until elimination) on Friday and/or Saturday, and all players that survive would combine to finish the tournament at 12:00 on Sunday.

When you enter a Phased tournament you must ensure that you will be available to play in the future phases, as you cannot unregister from Phase 2 (or beyond) in Phased tournaments.

Phased tournaments allow for multiple entries into the first phases. For example, if you play Phase 1 and are eliminated, you may enter another Phase 1 and start again at the beginning. You cannot qualify for the next round more than once, so if you survive Phase 1, you will then be unable to enter another Phase 1 leading to the same Phase 2. Note that if you survive Phase 1 with even one chip, you will still advance to Phase 2, and will not be able to play another Phase 1.

Most of the high-profile tournaments seen on TV are essentially Phased tournaments, with the entry phases usually referred to as Day 1A, Day 1B, Day 1C, etc.

Progressive Knockouts

In Progressive Knockout tournaments, a cash bounty is placed on every entrant in the tournament. So, each time you knock out an opponent, you win a cash. But there’s a twist: you win part of the eliminated player’s bounty immediately, but some of it is added to YOUR bounty (usually 50%). As you eliminate more players, your own bounty becomes bigger and bigger, making you a preferred target for other bounty hunters.

Most Progressive Knockout tournaments put half of your buy-in into the prize pool, with the other half as your own starting bounty. There are exceptions to this, for example where 25% of your buy-in goes into the prize pool and 75% is your starting bounty.

Most Progressive KOs work like this:

  • 50% of the buy-in goes to the prize pool
  • 50% of the buy-in funds each player’s initial bounty
  • 50% of the bounty is progressive, meaning that when you knock a player out, you pocket half of their bounty value, with the other half added to your own bounty value.

Rebuy Tournaments

A Rebuy tournament is one in which you can buy more chips during the event. In a standard ‘freezeout’ tournament, when you run out of chips, you're out of the tournament. In a Rebuy tournament, you can (with some restrictions) buy more chips.

Here are some facts about Rebuy tournaments:

  • There is a ‘rebuy period’ at the beginning of the tournament. A typical rebuy period might be the first hour of the event (until the first break starts). Once that period is over, no more rebuys are permitted.
  • During the rebuy period, there may be a fixed number of rebuys available, or an unlimited number.
  • If you run out of chips, you will automatically be offered a rebuy (if one is available). At any time when you have chips, you can click on the dealer tray and select the ‘Add More Chips’ option to rebuy. If you're not eligible for a rebuy (because you've reached the maximum number of rebuys, or because there is a maximum number of chips where rebuys are allowed), you'll get a message to that effect. 

    In general, you may rebuy using the ‘Add More Chips’ button in the dealer tray any time your stack is less than or equal to the starting chip stack. This means you can rebuy once before the tournament even starts.

    The rebuy may cost any amount, but generally costs the same as the original buy-in, and gets you the same number of chips that you got for your original buy-in.
  • There may also be an ‘add-on’ available at the end of the rebuy period. Typically this will be during the first break. An add-on is just one extra rebuy. The add-on will not be automatically offered to you. To take the add-on, wait for the message ‘Players are now on break’. Click on the dealer tray and select the ‘Add More Chips’ option. In general, the add-on is available no matter how many chips you have.

    The add-on may cost any amount, but generally costs the same as the original buy-in, and gets you the same, or higher number of chips that you got for your original buy-in. The prize pool and payoffs will not be announced until the rebuy period ends, since the prize pool increases with each rebuy.

Note that many of the rules described above are ‘typical’ or ‘normal.’ We make every effort to clearly state any deviations from typical rules, but the exact details for each tournament will always be posted in the tournament's lobby or under the ‘Tournament Info’ tab in that lobby.

Re-entry Tournaments

A Re-entry tournament is one in which you have the opportunity to enter an event again after you have already been eliminated. In Re-entry tournaments, when you lose all your chips you will be offered the ability to re-enter immediately. If you choose not to re-enter at that time, you can still register normally from the tournament lobby any time during the late registration period. Multiple entries at the same time are not allowed.

Re-entry tournaments are similar to rebuy tournaments, but with a few differences:

  • When you lose all your chips in a Re-entry tournament, you are eliminated from the event and receive a place in the finishing order.
  • In a Rebuy tournament, when you rebuy you keep your seat. In a Re-entry tournament, you will receive a new seat, and will be seated like any other new player, usually ending up at a different table.
  • In a Re-entry tournament, each entry is considered a new registration in that event, so you pay a new fee as if you were a new player joining the tournament. Re-entries also earn reward points for the fees paid.

Re-entries will show in the tournament standings with the number of that entry next to the Stars ID of the player. For example, if Username enters an event three times, his entries would show in the finishing list as Username, Username [2], Username [3].

Note that a Re-entry tournament may limit the number of times you can re-enter. This number will be noted in the tournament lobby. Once you have used up the allowed number of re-entries, you will not be allowed to play again in that event.

Satellites

A satellite is a tournament in which the prize is an entry into a larger tournament. It can be less expensive to enter a satellite than it would be to enter the main tournament directly. We run one-table and multi-table Sit & Go satellites, which you can find under the ‘Sit & Go’ tab. Multi-table satellites  are scheduled as regular tournaments, and the sign-up details and play are identical to other Multi-Table Tournaments, with one important difference – the tournament will only play down to the number required to award all of the equal-value seats. You can find these MTT events under the ‘Tourney’ tab (mobile) or by selecting ‘Satellite’ from the ‘Type’ filter in the ‘Tournaments’ desktop lobby. Here’s an example of how a satellite works:

The buy-in for the larger tournament is $200. The buy-in for the satellite is $20. If there are 10 entrants (into the satellite), first place will get a $200 entry to the larger tournament. If there are 20 entrants, then 1st and 2nd places will both receive a $200 entry to the larger tournament. If there is any leftover prize money, it will be distributed to the runners up as per the satellite’s payout structure, which is available through the tournament lobby.

If there is a fee to enter either a tournament or satellite, it will be denoted by stating the buy-in amount and the entry fee. A cost of ‘$30+$3’ indicates that the buy-in is $30, and the entry fee is $3. The $30 goes to the prize pool which the players compete for, while the $3 entry fee is taken as compensation for hosting the tournament. In most tournaments which are named, the buy-in and fee is combined for the sake of brevity in the title. For example, the above mentioned tournament would likely be named a ‘$33 satellite’. Detailed information on the breakdown of buy-in plus entry fee is shown in the tournament lobby.

Shootouts

A shootout is a special kind of Multi-Table Tournament. Normally, when you play in a Multi-Table Tournament, players are moved from table to table to balance the number of players at each table. Eventually, the last remaining players end up at the ‘final table.’ In a shootout, no such table balancing is done. You remain at your original table until only one player is left standing. If you win that table, you advance to another table and repeat the process against players who each won their first table.

In a DOUBLE SHOOTOUT, you need to win two tables to win the event, although often there is some money for everybody who reaches the final table. Each starting table is played to its conclusion and the final table is formed of the winners of the first round matches. For example, a full Stud Double Shootout might start with 8 full tables, a total of 64 players, in Round 1. Each of those 8 tables would play down to one winner, and the 8 winners would then be brought to a second table for Round 2, where they would play until there is one winner.

In a TRIPLE SHOOTOUT, you must win three tables to win the entire event (again, there may well be some prize money distributed along the way). For example, assuming a standard (9 players per table) triple shootout is full, in Round 1 the 729 players will be placed, 9 per table, at 81 tables within the tournament. Each table will play until there is one player remaining with all of the chips from that table. The 81 remaining players will then be moved to 9 tables for Round 2. As in Round 1, each table will play until one player has all of the chips from their table. Finally, the 9 remaining players will advance to the final table for Round 3, where the winner of the tournament shall be determined.

Note that this whole process could be extended to quadruple shootouts and so on. Also, the tables don't necessarily have to start at nine players each. For instance, in the past we have offered triple shootouts with four-player tables (a total of 64 players in each event). Also note that if a shootout is not filled to capacity when it begins, some of the tables in Round 1 could have more players than others. Late registration is not available in Shootout tournaments.

Sit & Go

Sit & Go (S&G or SNG) is a tournament which does not have a pre-assigned start time; it simply begins when all the seats are filled. These tournaments can be found by clicking on the ‘Sit & Go’ tab in the main client lobby window.

Time Tourneys

A Time Tourney is a special kind of tournament which has a pre-set duration. The time for the event is indicated in the tournament name and in the tournament lobby. At the end of the set amount of playing time, the event will stop and all remaining players will receive a distribution of the prize pool based on their ending chip count. Time Tourneys are indicated by a ‘clock’ symbol in the tournament lobby.

Time Tourneys are offered throughout the day in durations of 15, 25 and 45 minutes of playing time. 

Turbo

A Turbo event is one in which the blind levels increase much faster than in standard play. The length of each round (before the blinds/antes increase) in a Turbo tournament is usually 5 minutes (as opposed to the standard 10 or 15), though there are some turbo events with 6-minute rounds.

Turbo rebuy events usually go on break at 30 minutes, as opposed to 60 minutes in a standard rebuy event.

Find out more information on playing in PokerStars tournaments.

First Deposit Bonus

First Deposit Bonus

All players making their first deposit qualify for the PokerStars 100% deposit bonus of up to $600.

Daily Tournaments

Daily Tournaments

PokerStars has tournaments with guaranteed prize pools running every day. Take your shot!

Special Offers

Special Offers

PokerStars has special offers running all year round, with cash prizes, seats to the best live events and much more.