Tournament Types

We are the world’s biggest online poker room and home of the biggest tournaments, with the biggest fields and the biggest prize pools. 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 Tournaments tab (desktop), or under the ‘Tourney’ tab accessed via the Lobby (mobile). Other types of tournaments can be found under the relevant tabs, such as Sit & Go or Spin & 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$, T€)

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, contact our support team using the ‘Help > Contact Support’ option in the desktop lobby, or access the More menu and find support through the mobile app, 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.

Beat the Clock

Beat the Clock tournaments are special variants of Time Tourneys, where play stops after a specified length of time and all remaining players are awarded a proportion of the prize pool based on their chip count.

All Beat the Clock tournaments last just five minutes and follow a Zoom Sit & Go format, starting as soon as 48 players have registered, with blinds and antes rising every minute.

Prizes in Beat the Clock tournaments are awarded as per the following formula:

(player’s remaining chips / total chips in play) x total prize pool = player’s prize

Bounty Tournaments

In bounty tournaments, a special cash prize is awarded to the person who eliminates a particular player. For example, if there is a bounty on the head of ‘KidPoker’, whoever eliminates him wins an extra prize, ranging from a couple of bucks to hundreds of dollars, depending on the tournament!

We offer three types of bounty tournament:

  • Fixed: There is a bounty on the head of one or more ‘marked’ players. These players are designated in the tournament lobby with a ‘target’ symbol’. Hover over that target symbol with your mouse to see the amount of the bounty. Eliminate the marked player to win the bounty!
  • Team Pro: There is a bounty on the head of every member of Team Pro who enters the tournament. Eliminate any pro (marked with a red spade symbol at the table and in the tournament lobby) to claim their bounty!
  • Knockout: There is a bounty on the head of every player in the tournament. For more information on knockouts, see below.

You can quickly find bounty tournaments in the desktop lobby by looking for the appropriate symbol. Those with a black ‘crosshair’ symbol are knockout tournaments, those with a black ‘target’ are fixed bounty tournaments, and those with a red ‘target’ are Team Pro bounty tournaments.

Bubble Rush

Bubble Rush tournaments are designed to reach the money quickly. Usually in the money in about an hour, Bubble Rush tournaments slow down to deep-stacked play when the prizes are biggest!

Color Scheme

The following key describes the colors used to identify different types of tournament on our platform.

  • Live Events - Tournaments in purple are generally satellites to a major live poker event, such as a PokerStars Championship or a PokerStars Festival.
  • Satellites to Online Tourneys - This dark blue color is used to identify satellites to online tournaments, such as the Sunday Million.
  • Steps – In USD, Steps satellites are identified in dark green. In Euro, Steps are identified in blue.
  • Championship (*COOP) Events / Satellites - Some major online events, like the World Championship Of Online Poker (WCOOP) and SCOOP, and their satellites, are identified in bright orange.
  • PokerStars Championship Bahamas Events / Satellites – Online events for the PokerStars Championship Bahamas are identified in cyan.
  • Women's Events – Events open only to female players are identified in magenta.
  • Freerolls and Play Money - If you're looking for an opportunity to play for free while still having a chance to win something, then look for these brown colors in the client.
  • Special Tournaments - Bright, bold red is used to identify special events throughout the week, such as the The Daily Bigs.

The color scheme listed above is for information only and subject to change. Some special tournaments may be identified using other colors specific to that event.

Fifty50

‘Fifty50’ is a type of one-table Sit & Go tournament. In a Fifty50 Sit & Go, the event ends when half of the entrants have been eliminated. For example, in a 10-player Fifty50 tournament, 5 will be paid. Half of the prize pool will be distributed equally among the 5 winners, and the other half of the prize pool will be distributed among those same 5 players based on the chip count percentages at the end of the event. The 6th-10th place finishers win nothing. So in a 10-player $10+$1 Fifty50, the prize pool is $100. Each of the final 5 finishers would receive $10 each, plus a percentage of the remaining $50 in the prize pool. You can find Fifty50 tournaments on desktop under the ‘Sit & Go’ tab. Select ‘Fifty50’ from the Variant filter. On mobile, search for ‘Fifty50’ in the ‘Sit & Go’ tab accessed via the Lobby.

ExampleChipsChip %Chip Prize+Buy-inTotal Prize
Player 1 4,300 28.67% $430 +$300 $730
Player 2 3,600 24.00% $360 +$300 $660
Player 3 3,100 20.67% $310 +$300 $610
Player 4 2,300 15.33% $230 +$300 $530
Player 5 1,700 11.33% $170 +$300 $470
Total 15,000 100.00% $1,500 +$1,500 $3,000

To calculate the value of Player 1’s chips, multiply half the prize pool ($1500) by Player 1’s portion of the total chips in play (4300/15000), a total of $430. Adding the returned buy-in awarded to each player who cashes results in Player 1’s total prize amount of $730 ($430+$300). As a formula, an individual’s payout would be expresses as:

Tournament Types Formula

The Fifty50 tournament lobby displays the approximate amount per 100 chips to be paid out when the tournament ends. The value displayed in the Fifty50 tournament lobby is rounded down to the nearest cent, but payouts are calculated so that the entire prize pool is paid out. Note that the final payouts may experience small rounding differences in order to ensure that the total payouts equal the prize pool.

Guaranteed Tournaments

In many of our cash tournaments, the prize pool is guaranteed to reach a specific amount. Regular guarantees range from $500 to $1,000,000! To see the full range of these tournaments, visit the ‘Tourney’ and ‘All’ lobby and enter the word ‘guarantee’ in the tournament filter.

Heads-Up Tournaments

Another form of a shootout tournament is a Heads-Up tournament, also called a 1-on-1 tournament. This is a tournament where players 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 one 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 heads-up bracket. When this happens, not all players will be able to play the first round – they will receive ‘byes’.

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

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!

Knockouts

In Knockout tournaments, a cash bounty is placed on every entrant in the tournament. Every time you eliminate somebody, you win a cash prize! The winner of a knockout tournament wins their own bounty.

In a knockout tournament, every player pays an extra buy-in, which serves as that player’s bounty. For example, a knockout tournament might have a total buy-in of $20+$5+$2, of which $20 goes into the regular prize pool, $5 is each player’s bounty, and $2 is the tournament fee.

You can find knockout tournaments in the lobby, marked with a black ‘crosshair’ symbol – or type ‘knockout’ into the tournament filter to quickly find what you’re looking for!

Multi-Stack Tournaments

An interesting, fun variant of rebuy tournaments, in Multi-Stack tournaments each player’s starting chips are divided into equal-sized smaller stacks. Each player then decides how many of the available stacks they want to start with, and how many to keep in reserve for later. A player can reload (add available remaining stacks) later. The total number of available stacks for each player is posted in the tournament lobby and is the same for all players in that event. There is no additional cost for adding an available stack.

For example, a participant in a Multi-Stack tournament may have five stacks of 1,000 chips available, for a total of 5,000 chips. At the start of the tournament, that player may choose to play with the minimum of one stack (1,000 chips), or can choose to add any or all of their four remaining stacks at that time. During the tournament, a player can choose to add remaining stacks at any time by clicking the ‘Add Stacks’ button on the table, or ‘Add Chips’ in the dealer tray or ‘Options’ menu. These buttons will only be visible if stacks are still available. Note: Stacks will be added at the end of the current hand; they will not be in play during the current hand.

If a player loses all of their chips in play, they will be offered the option to add any remaining stacks, and will be required to add at least one stack. If only one stack remains, it will be automatically added. Once a player loses all of the chips available in all of their available stacks, they are eliminated from the tournament.

A limited amount of time will be available for players to add available stacks, as specified in the tournament lobby. Any stacks which have not been added by the end of that time will automatically be added to each player’s chip total.

You can see how many stacks a player has available by scrolling over their name in the lobby player list, or by scrolling over the ‘stack’ symbol by their seat at the table. If no symbol appears by a player’s seat, they have used all of their available stacks.

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 on the basis of number of tournament entries.

Phased Tournaments

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 chose 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

Progressive Knockout tournaments are an exciting variant of KO Poker. Like a standard KO tournament, you win cash every time you knock out an opponent, 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, most notably in the ‘Saturday Special’ editions of the Bounty Builders tournaments, 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

rebuy tournament is one in which you have the opportunity to 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 completely 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 that ‘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 will 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 from that event. 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 are different in a few ways:

  • 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 KidPoker enters an event three times, his entries would show in the finishing list as KidPoker, KidPoker [2], KidPoker [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

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 also 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. 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, if it is a satellite to the Sunday Million (for example), would likely be named ‘Sunday Million: $33 satellite’.  Detailed information on the breakdown of buy-in plus entry fee is shown in the tournament lobby.

Shootouts

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; 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 Champion of the tournament shall be determined.

Note that this whole process could be extended to quadruple shootouts and on up. 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. There are many types of Sit & Go, ranging in size from heads-up to 990 players, in both satellite and cash tournament form. These tournaments can be found by clicking on the ‘Sit & Go’ tab in the main client lobby window.

Spin & Go

A Spin & Go tournament is a type of Hyper-Turbo Sit & Go that gives players a chance to play for a prize pool that is much bigger than a tournament buy-in would indicate. Each tournament has only three players, and before a Spin & Go begins, there is a random draw to determine what the prize pool will be. Spin & Go’s are available in a range of different buy-ins. You will find these tournaments under the ‘Spin & Go’ tab in the lobby (desktop) or the ‘Spin & Go’ tab accessed via the Lobby (mobile). Learn more about Spin & Go tournaments.

Splash

A Splash tournament is a special kind of turbo rebuy tournament (usually a satellite) in which the levels increase at turbo speed, but the rebuy time is 90 minutes in length. The available chips – including the starting stack, rebuy, and add-on – are tailored to each event. Be sure to check under the ‘Tournament Info’ button for detailed structure info.

Steps

Steps’ are a special ‘tiered’ type of Sit & Go tournament. By playing in Steps tournaments, you can turn a small investment into a large prize by working your way up from the lowest step to the highest step. Entry to the Steps system starts from just $7.50, €2.20 or even StarsCoin, and you work your way up the ladder to win prizes worth thousands!

Even if you don’t advance to the next level in a particular Step tournament, you can win a chance to play again at the same level, or the one below. You can also buy in directly to any Step tournament at any level, or jump off the step ladder into certain regular tournaments using a Step 4 ticket.

Register for Steps tournaments on desktop by going to the ‘Sit & Go’ tab. Select ‘Steps’ from the Variant filter. On mobile, search for ‘Steps’ in the ‘Sit & Go’ tab accessed via the Lobby.

Learn more about the Steps system.

Time Tourneys

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

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.

Win the Button

Win the Button is a tournament format that awards the winner of each pot with the dealer button. Some Win the Button tournaments switch to normal button movement in the later stages of the tournament. Be sure to check the tournament lobby for more information.

ZOOM

In a Zoom tournament, you can fold your hand and immediately move to a new table with new opponents (selected randomly from the entire pool of players who have entered the tournament). You can even use the ‘Fast Fold’ button to fold before it’s your turn to act. This makes it a fast poker format, as you don’t have to wait around for each hand to play out before playing the next one. See the Zoom page for more on how it works.

Note that in Zoom tournaments, when the player pool gets small, with only the last few tables remaining, the tournament reverts back to a normal freezeout format.

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.

Find out more information on playing in PokerStars tournaments.

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