There are three major tournament styles: Elimination, Re-Buy, and Shootout. There are minor differences between them, affecting factors such as the time it takes to complete the tournament and the size of the pot the winner receives. The most common type of tournament style is Elimination.
In an Elimination tournament, all players pay the same buy-in and start with equal numbers of chips. As players are eliminated, winners are consolidated to other tables. Play continues in this fashion, with the winners going from smaller to smaller tables. Usually, the winnings are divided among the last remaining table of players, with the first-place player receiving the majority of the money and the other players receiving smaller amounts based on their ranking.
In a Re-Buy tournament, there is an additional “re-buy” period that occurs after the first several rounds of play. During the re-buy period, players who have lost all their chips may buy additional ones. Because players have an opportunity to purchase more chips, the beginning rounds of a Re-Buy tournament tend to be very aggressive. Re-Buy tournaments have larger winnings than similarly priced Elimination tournaments because additional money goes to the pot during the re-buy period.
Shootout tournaments are very similar to Elimination tournaments except that play continues on each individual table until one winner is declared. After a winner emerges from each individual table, they play each other at one “winners table.” Shootout tournaments have the advantage of being several hours shorter than typical Elimination tournaments.