Poker Tournament Terminology


Add-on
An option to buy more chips during the tournament, regardless of how many chips you have. It is different from a rebuy in that you have to be under a certain amount of chips to qualify for a rebuy.

A single or double add-on is usually offered at the end of the rebuy period in a multiple-rebuy tournament.

All-In
To go all-in is to bet or call with all of your remaining chips. In a tournament, as well as cash games, you cannot be forced to fold and lose the hand if you do not have enough money to cover a bet. If this were the case, the person with the most chips would win every hand.

Instead, by going all-in, you are allowed to contest for the portion of the bets that your money covers, and any bets made by other players over that amount, will constitute a side pot. In no limit poker, you can bet or raise all-in at any point, by shoving in your entire stack of chips.

Buy-In
The amount of money required to enter a tournament, and which goes into the prize pool. There most likely will also be an Entry Fee in addition, which goes to the house. For example, if the tournament is promoted as $300+30, that would be $300 for the buy-in and $30 for the entry fee.

The amount of chips you get for your buy-in varies from tournament to tournament, but is not usually the same amount as the buy-in. For example, a $300 buy-in tournament often starts with 500 or 800 in tournament chips.

Chip Race
When the smaller denomination chips are no longer needed in a tournament as the limits increase, they are bought up from the players by the house.

Any left over odd chips are then raced off. The most common method to do this is to give one card for each odd chip that each player has.

The highest card wins one or more of the the next higher denomination chips. Ties are broken alphabetically by suit (from highest to lowest: spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs).

Chop or Deal
To split up the prize money differently than the tournament payout structure specified by the tournament operator.

For example, if the prize money is specified as $1000 for first, $500 for second, and $300 for third, and there are only three players left, these players may decide to split the money evenly taking $600 each.

This is usually allowed by the house, as the prize pool is put up by players, so it should be their decision to divide it up as they wish, as long as all remaining players agree. If the remaining players are not equal in chips, they will usually decide to split it less evenly, giving more money to those with more chips.

Entry Fee
The amount you pay to the house for the privilege of entering a poker tournament. This will be an amount in addition to the buy-in, which goes into the prize pool.

Freeroll
Freeroll tournaments are tournaments with no buy-in or entry fee. Sometimes there is some requirement for entry like having played a certain number of hours in the cardroom.

Freezout
The most common tournament structure in which players are eliminated when they run out of chips. Tables are combined as seats open up until a single player has won all the chips.

The players who made the top spots win a percentage of the prize pool on a sliding scale starting with about 40% for first place. The number of places paid varies by the size of the tournament. Rebuy tournaments become freezout tournaments after the rebuy period is over.

In the money
The top spots in the tournament that win a portion of the prize pool are said to be “in the money”. If the tournament pays 18 places and you bust out in 19th, you just missed being in the money.

No Limit
A form of poker in which the betting structure allows for no maximum bet. For example, in a no limit hold’em tournament, the blinds might start at 15 and 30. The players may call the big blind or raise any amount, up to all of their chips.

The minimim raise is always double the amount of the previous bet or raise, so in this case you must put in at least 60 to raise. After the flop, the minimum bet is always the size of the big blind. There also is no limit to the number of raises allowed.

Pot Limit
A form of poker in which the maximum bet allowed is always the size of the pot. If the pot contains 100 and a player bets the maximum (100), you can make it 400 (100 call plus 300 raise). When you raise, the call portion of your bet is included in the pot for calculating the maximum raise portion.

Prize Pool
The total of all the buy-in money, which will be distributed to the winning players.

Rebuy
The option to pay more money and get more chips during a rebuy period, which is usually the first three rounds.

You usually have to have fewer than a certain amount of chips to rebuy. The amount of chips you get is usually the same as the original chip amount, but sometimes is it more.

The amount of money you pay for a rebuy is usually the same as the original buy-in. If it is a multiple rebuy tournament, there is no limit to the number of rebuys you can purchase during the rebuy period, as long as you are under the specified amount of chips.

If it is a “one optional rebuy” tournament, then you can purchase your rebuy at any time during the rebuy period, regardless of how many chips you have. Technically, this form of tournament should be called a “one optional add-on” tournament.

Round
A specified period of time for each betting limit in a tournament. For example, the first round may start at betting limits of 10 and 20, and then in the second round, the limits increase to 15 and 30.

The length of rounds vary from 15 or 20 minutes in a small tournament, to two hours in the World Series of Poker. Generally, the shorter the rounds the greater luck becomes a factor.

Satellite
A tournament in which the winner receives an entry into a bigger tournament, rather than cash. Special tournament buy-in chips are awarded to the winner, that have no cash value.

A single table satellite is the most common form, in which 8 to 10 players play winner-take-all. A super-satellite is a multi-table freezout satellite, sometimes with rebuys, where more than one of the top places will win a tournament entry and/or cash.

Save
A partial chop of the prize pool, which guarantees a certain amount to each player, but leaves more money in the prize pool to play for.

Shootout
A tournament structure in which you have to beat everyone at your table to advance to the final round. The winner of each table then plays a final round that follows a normal freezout format.

For example, if you had 18 tables, the 18 table winners would form two tables of nine for the final round. Normally all these players would be “in the money”. As players are eliminated they would move players to balance the tables if necessary until there are nine left, which would be the final table.

Soft Play
To soft play is to play in such a way to help another player with whom you are trading pieces or have some other financial arrangement, so that they don’t bust out of the tournament. This is not ethical because it is not fair to the other players who benefit when players are knocked out of the tournament.

Tournament Chips
Tournament chips are not the same as other poker chips, because they have no cash value. You cannot cash them and leave the tournament. The only way to win money in the tournament is to survive to be the last player standing, or to bust out in one of the top “in the money” positions.

Tournament chip amounts are often expressed in print using a “T” (for example, T1000 ) to distinguish them from cash poker chips. In most tournaments, the amount of tournament chips you start with is not the same amount as the buy-in.

Tournament Buy-In Chips
Chips that you win in a satellite which are only valid for buying into a tournament. Though they have no cash value, they are transferrable, meaning you can sell them to other players if you can’t or don’t want to play the tournament.

Trade Pieces
Players entering the same tournament will sometimes offer to pay each other a set percentage if they win.

In this way, they can have a bad night and still get some money if their partner wins. This type of arrangement is usually legal and accepted, as long as the partners don’t ‘soft play’ each other