A number of places (typically two, six, or nine) are allocated on a single table, and as soon as the required number of players appears, chips are dealt out and the game begins. This method of starting single-table tournaments has led to these tournaments being called sit-and-go (SNG) tournaments because the tournament “continues” when the required number of players “sits”. However, multi-table sit-and-go tournaments are becoming more common, especially in Internet poker. A single-table tournament behaves the same as the final table of a multi-table tournament, but players all start with the same number of chips and the bet usually starts much lower. Constant returns are used almost invariably.
A tournament series can consist of single-table or multi-table tournaments. In a tournament series, multiple tournaments are played in which prizes are awarded. However, a series leaderboard or ranking system is often used, and additional rewards from individual tournament entries are awarded to the overall best performers in the series. Major poker tournaments such as the World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker use rankings to determine a player of the year.
The most common form of play for poker tournaments is “freeze”. All players currently playing in a tournament form a dynamic pool. When a player loses all his chips and is eliminated, his table shrinks. To combat the constant shrinkage of the tables and to prevent the tables from playing with a varying number of players, players are moved between the tables and unnecessary tables close as the tournament progresses. In the end, all the remaining players sit at a single table known as the “final table”. Most sit and go tournaments are freezeouts.
In some tournaments, known as “repurchase tournaments”, players have the opportunity to repurchase the game in case they lose all their chips and avoid being eliminated for a certain period of time (usually one to two hours). After this so-called “rebuy period”, the game continues as in a standard ice cream tournament and eliminated players no longer have the option to return to the game. Repurchase tournaments often allow players to repurchase even if they haven’t lost all their chips, in which case the rebuy amount is simply added to their deck. If a player has too many chips (usually the amount or half of the starting deck), they are not allowed to repurchase in-game. At the end of the repurchase period, remaining players are usually given the option to purchase an “add-on”; this is usually an additional amount of chips similar to the starter deck.
Another form of play is the “penalty” tournament. The Shootout tournament divides the game into rounds. In a standard skirmish tournament, each table sits between 2-10 players and the table list remains the same until everyone except one player is eliminated. Table winners progress to the final table where the tournament winner is determined. In a skirmish tournament, players are often featured in stages, depending on how many rounds they lasted and where they were eliminated.