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Freeze Out Poker

Freeze-Out Tournament Definition

by Jesse Knight
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Freeze Out Tournament
Freeze-Out A tournament without rebuys.


When a player reads a description of a tournament, they are usually looking for certain specific information about the event. The key pieces of information are the cost of the tournament, the game to be played, the type of tournament, and the guarantee, if any. For example, Poker Stars,  runs a weekly tournament called the Sunday Million, which is a $200 + $15 buy in No Limit Holdem Freeze-Out with a guarantee of $1,500,000 (1.5M).

As you can see, this description includes both the game type (NLH) as well as the tournament type (Freeze Out). It is generally a good idea to specify both, as there are many different game types and several types of tournaments. However, not every tournament description will list the tournament type. If the tournament type is not specified, you can assume that it is a freeze-out.

A freeze-out is a tournament where all players start with the same number of chips, there are no rebuys or add ons, and barring some sort of deal, play continues until there is one player left. As players are eliminated, tables are consolidated, until there is only one table left. It is the job of the tournament director or the tournament staff to consolidate the tables. This is done by walking around the room and collecting the seat cards for the players who have been eliminated. When the tournament staff hold enough seat cards to break a table, they will approach the table they intend to break, and inform the players that their table will be breaking following the hand in progress. At the conclusion of the hand, the empty seat cards are randomly distributed, and the players are sent on their way to their new tables. Frequently, there will be a table breaking order established before the start of the tournament, so that everybody knows which order the tables will be breaking in.

In addition to Freeze Outs, you may also encounter other types of tournaments. These include Shoot-Outs, single and multi rebuy events, bounty events and cashout tournaments. A shootout sounds similar to a Freeze-out, and although there are some similarities, the two types of tournaments are substantially different. In a freezeout, tables are consolidated as soon as possible, and the players from the broken tables are moved into the seats of the eliminated players. In a Shootout, each table is played down to one player, and then the table winners advance. They then play the rest of the tournament in a Freeze-out format, with tables consolidating as the remaining players are eliminated. In a shoot-out, players will typically be in the money after they win their table. If the casino is expecting a large field, they may structure the tournament as a double shoot-out or a triple shoot-out. In these events, a player may have to win multiple tables before advancing to the money. Sometimes, but not always, double and triple shootouts will remain in shootout format until the conclusion of the tournament, and will not convert to a freeze-out style once all players are in the money. There may be small differences between how a shootout is run, depending upon the casino you are playing in. If you are unclear about any aspect of a tournament, you should always feel free to get some clarification from a member of the tournament staff.

Poker tournaments are frequently scheduled as a series of events which take place over several days. Many casinos will mix up from day to day both the type of tournament as well as the game to be played. This is done to provide some variety for the players, as well as to increase turnout at the tournament series, by appealing to a wider cross section of players. Still, freezeouts are the most common type of tournament spread, and the house prefers them because they are quick and efficient, and much less labor intensive than other tournament types. Rebuy events tend to take much longer to complete than freezeouts, because of all of the extra chips in play. They require extra tournament staff to sell all the rebuys, and the house usually only receives an entry fee based upon the buyin amount and not on the rebuys. Bounty tournaments are also more labor intensive than freezeouts, as someone must deal with all the bounties. Cashout tournaments also require additional labor from the tournament staff. Shootout events are the most labor intensive, because each table is played down to one player, and this format requires much more dealer labor.

Usage: Freezeout Tournament

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