Tournament Rules

These rules apply to tournaments on our platform.

The Tournament Rules as listed here are intended to complement the General Terms, not replace them. In the event of a discrepancy between the Tournament Rules and General Terms, the General Terms shall take precedence.

Note: Rules 1.5, 2.4 and 2.5 are relevant only to tournaments which use blinds and/or a dealer button.

1. General

We will, at all times, consider the best interests of the game and fairness as the top priority in the decision-making process. Unusual circumstances can, on occasion, dictate that decisions in the interest of fairness take priority over the technical rules.


All tournaments will begin promptly at the scheduled time stated in the Tournament Lobby. We reserve the right to delay or cancel a tournament without prior notice.


Important information about each tournament, including the blind structure, length of rounds, rebuy and break information, can be found by selecting the tournament in the lobby and double-clicking on it (desktop), and by clicking the tournament itself via the Lobby (mobile). We reserve the right to change the parameters of any tournament at any time without notice.


Seats are assigned at random. Seat changes are not permitted.


The button will be positioned at Seat 1 to start play.


A bet and three raises are permitted in Fixed Limit tournaments. There is no limit to the number of raises permitted in Pot Limit and No Limit tournaments.


Prizes will be awarded as stated in the Tournament Lobby, except when a deal is made (see Rule 8.1) or the tournament is cancelled (see our tournament cancellation policy below). The prize structure is not finalized until registration has closed and the rebuy and/or add-on period is over.


In order to be eligible to rebuy in a rebuy tournament, you must have the funds available in your account. Funds currently in play in other games, or held in a currency not matching the tournament currency, are not considered to be available.


Late Registration: Late registration is available in most tournaments. The length of the late registration period varies, but will always be shown in the tournament ticket in the Quick Seat lobby, in the details panel of the Tournaments tab, and in the header of the Tournament lobby for that tournament. Late registration time is measured in clock time (as opposed to tournament play time). For example, if a tournament starts at 09:00 and has 90 minutes of late registration, registration will close at 10:30. Late registration will close early if enough players are eliminated to begin payouts.

Please note that players are only allowed to participate in a tournament once, unless re-entry is permitted, as specified in the tournament lobby. One player using multiple accounts to enter multiple times into a single tournament is not permitted, and may result in penalties including a warning, disqualification from the tournament (with partial or full forfeiture of winnings), and barring from our platform.


Unregistration: Most tournaments allow unregistration until a time specified in the tournament lobby of each tournament, which may vary from event to event. Players who have won their seats through a satellite may unregister if the event allows it; however, they will receive tournament money (T-Money) or an entry ticket in exchange for their seat. T-Money can be used to buy in to our other tournaments. See here for more information.

Some satellites will end after the start of the target tournament, but during late registration. In such cases, the satellite winners will be seated directly into the target event at the conclusion of the satellite.

Please note: Registration and unregistration times may vary, and not all tournaments allow unregistration. Check the Tournament Lobby for the exact registration details for each tournament. We reserve the right to alter registration and unregistration times without prior notice.

Players who self-exclude during a Multi-Day Tournament will still be able to complete any tournaments already in progress in which they are playing. This also means that players who request to be self-excluded from playing on our platform after qualifying for Day 2 of a Multi-Day Tournament will still be able to play in that tournament on any subsequent day of that tournament, even after their period of self-exclusion begins. Players who choose not to play on subsequent days will receive no compensation.

Players who request to be self-excluded during a Phased Tournament will not be able to complete the next phase of the tournament. Please consider whether you will be able to play the tournament in its entirety before entering the first phase.

2. Eliminations

The tournament ends when one player accumulates all the chips in play, or when all remaining players will receive the same prize (for example, if the tournament awards five identical prizes, the tournament may end when there are five players left).


If two or more players are eliminated on the same hand, a player with more chips at the start of the hand finishes higher than a player with fewer chips. If all players started the hand with an identical number of chips, all players tie for that rank, and any prizes due to those players will be equally distributed between them. During hand-for-hand play (as described in Rule 2.3), two or more players eliminated during a single 'synchronized' hand are treated as having been eliminated simultaneously, even if they are at different tables. Finishing order is then based on comparing stack sizes.


At certain stages of the tournament (for example, where the prize money jumps significantly with the next few players eliminated) and when there is more than one table remaining, the tournament may be played ‘hand for hand’. This means that if one table finishes its hand before the other table(s), that table waits for the other table(s) to finish before the next hand is dealt.


We use a ‘forward-moving button’ rule in tournaments. According to this rule, no player ever receives the button twice in a row; at the completion of every hand, the button is moved clockwise. The implication of this rule is that when players are eliminated, there may be players who get a reprieve from one or both blinds. Since these are basically random occurrences, no player will receive any long-term advantage.


When two players remain at the final table, the button will post the small blind, and act first on the opening round.


As players are eliminated from the tournament, the software will 'break' tables to fill available empty seats or balance tables to ensure all tables have an equal (or as close to equal as possible) number of active players. The re-seating of players at broken tables is performed randomly and, although rare, may result in a player having to post multiple big blinds in a row. Players moved individually to balance tables will, when possible, be moved to similar positions relative to the blinds. When enough players have been eliminated, all players are brought together at the ‘final table’.

3. Breaks

The break schedule for a tournament can be found in the ‘Tournament Information’ section of the ‘Structure’ tab in the Tournament lobby. Break length and timing may vary from one event to the next. We offer two varieties of breaks:

  1. Tournaments with synchronized breaks will go on break at 55 minutes past the hour. For example, a tournament which begins at 07:25 will go on break at 07:55, 08:55, 09:55 and every hour thereafter until the tournament ends. There can also be tournaments where the synchronized break only takes place every two hours. For example, a tournament like this, starting at 08:35, could go on break at 08:55, 10:55, and every other hour thereafter.
    In rebuy tournaments of this type where add-ons are permitted, there will be an additional short break (usually three minutes) at the conclusion of the rebuy period, to allow for add-ons to be made.
  2. Other tournaments will go on break at regular intervals throughout play. For example, a tournament beginning at 07:25 may go on break after every hour’s play, in which case the first break would begin at 08:25.

In all cases, the tournament will wait for hands at all tables to complete before the break period begins. This means that at some tables, the break will last slightly longer than at other tables.

Note that not all tournaments offer breaks (for example, Hyper-Turbo and some Heads-Up or Shootout-style events).

4. Disconnects and Sitting Out

By participating in a tournament, a player accepts the risk of Internet disconnection, due to problems with the connection between their device and the servers, lag or freeze, or some other problem with the player's device or connection.

    1. We do not accept any responsibility for a player disconnection except in the case of a server crash.
    2. While each user is responsible for their own Internet connection, we try to protect players who are disconnected during the final stages of a real money tournament, by allowing disconnect extra time (DET).
    3. If a player times out during a hand, whether connected or disconnected, his or her hand will be folded if facing action or may be checked if facing no action.
    4. If a player is not connected before a hand starts, he or she will be dealt cards, and a blind and/or ante will be posted. There is no rule against a single player choosing to sit out; the player doing so will continue to have blinds and antes posted and cards dealt. Two or more players may not make any agreement to sit out simultaneously, whether at the same table or different tables.
    5. In Shootout and Heads-Up events, if all players at a table are disconnected and/or sitting out for a large number of hands (typically 250 hands or more in real money tournaments), the match will end and the player with the most chips will advance to the next round.

For regular multi-table tournaments, the DET is available only at the final table. The DET is as follows:

  • First action: between 60 and 240 seconds
  • Second action: between 30 and 120 seconds (half of the first action time)
  • Third action: between 15 and 60 seconds (half of the second action time)
  • Fourth (and subsequent) actions: No extra time added, but as the player is 'sitting-in', they will get the regular time to act before being folded.

For Sit & Go tournaments with fewer than 45 players, the DET is available when the tournament is down to the number of players that will be paid plus one. The DET is as follows:

  • First action: 120 seconds
  • Second action: 60 seconds
  • Third (and subsequent) actions: No extra time added, but as the player is 'sitting-in', they will get the regular time to act before being folded.

For Heads-Up tournaments, the DET is available throughout the tournament. The DET is as follows:

  • First action: 120 seconds
  • Second action: 60 seconds
  • Third (and subsequent) actions: No extra time added, but as the player is 'sitting-in', they will get the regular time to act before being folded.

For all actions above, the player will remain in 'sitting-in' state after being folded, and will therefore be given the indicated amount of time when an action returns to them.

Note that for all tournaments, the DET is reset each time the user reconnects. So, if a player is at the final table of a multi-table event, disconnects, and is down to 30 seconds per action, then reconnects, if they disconnect again they'll start with 240 seconds for their next action.

During any time that the system is waiting on a disconnected player, the tournament clock (that raises blind levels) is stopped.

Please note: The rules described above may vary between tournaments. DET may not be provided for each tournament; we reserve the right to change these rules without prior notification.

5. Chat

Players, whether in the hand or not, may not discuss the hand or their cards until the action is complete. Players are obligated to protect the other players in the tournament at all times. Discussing cards discarded or hand possibilities is not allowed. A penalty may be given for discussion of hands during play.

6. Unethical Play

Poker is an individual (not a team) game. Any action or chat intended to help another player is unethical and is prohibited. Unethical play, such as soft-play (playing less aggressively against a partner) and chip dumping (intentionally losing chips to a partner), may result in penalties, including seizure of funds from the offender's account and/or termination of the account. We routinely review game play to look for violations of our rules and to ensure the integrity of our games. It may be necessary to withhold player winnings until the completion of game play reviews.


With some exceptions (described below), a player may play on only one account during a tournament and may not ‘hand off’ his seat in mid-event to a different player. Violation of this rule may result in penalties including a warning, disqualification from the tournament (with partial or full forfeiture of winnings), and barring from our platform.

The examples of permissible exceptions that we give below are intended to describe examples of unplanned but serious events which are beyond your control.

Examples of things which are not beyond your control and are therefore prohibited include:

  1. Going to bed and letting someone else finish the tournament.
  2. Entering a tournament then embarking on a pre-planned trip, while asking a friend to play your account while you change location.
  3. Deciding to finish a tournament at a friend's house, then asking your friend to take over your account while you make the trip to their house.
  4. You and a friend are playing in the same tournament. You agree that if he busts out before you do, he will take over playing your account.
  5. Your partner is out of town for the weekend but gives you their password. You log into both their account and yours and play both accounts in the same tournament.
  6. You have progressed to the final few tables of a tournament and somebody offers you cash equity for your seat. You allow the other player to sign into your account, or you continue to finish the tournament following the explicit instructions given by them.

Examples of things which are beyond your control and are therefore allowed, subject to us being able to corroborate with evidence, include:

  1. A thunderstorm takes the power down in your surrounding area, so you call a friend to take over your account while you make alternative arrangements.
  2. Your child is taken ill and you have to attend hospital, so you call a friend to take over your account.
  3. You are playing in a tournament and lose Internet access in your home due to a failure of your ISP. You call a friend and they take over while you make alternative arrangements.
7. Server Issues

In the event of a server crash, the hands in progress at every table will be restored by rolling back those hands. Each player's chip count will be reset to the amount at the beginning of the hand. In special circumstances, when a tournament needs to be cancelled because of a crash or some other reason, players will be compensated according to the tournament cancellation policy (see below).

8. Deal Making

Deal making is allowed in tournaments, unless otherwise specified in the tournament lobby.

  1. If all remaining players in a tournament agree to split the prize money according to a formula of their choosing, we will accept this agreement and alter the originally published tourney payouts to reflect the numbers agreed to in the deal.
  2. If all players remaining wish to make a deal, they should check the ‘Discuss A Deal’ box in the ‘Info’ tab of the Chat Box on the table. When all remaining players have checked this box, the table will automatically pause at the end of the current hand, and our customer support team will be notified. A staff member will come to the table to ensure a smoothly arranged deal. We cannot guarantee that a staff member will arrive immediately, although every effort will be made to avoid delays.
  3. Deal making is not available in all tournaments, but when deal making is available the ‘Discuss A Deal’ checkbox will be available in the ‘Info’ tab at the final table.
  4. We will not participate in the deal-making process, but we will serve as a facilitator to ensure that everyone is in complete agreement before executing the transfers per the above conditions.
  5. We reserve the right to require that any deal leaves some money ‘on the table’ as the first-place prize. This money required to be left in play will usually not be more than 5% of the total tournament prize pool and ensures the integrity of the tournament's finish. The amount of money required to be left in play, if any, will usually be specified in the tournament lobby message.
  6. Players may agree to leave more money ‘on the table’ for first place or for other finishes.
  7. It is the players' responsibility to determine total agreement. In the absence of oversight at the table by our support personnel, chat records alone will not necessarily validate an agreement. However, we may enforce a deal if it was clearly agreed to by all parties.
  8. Only players at the final table may deal for the money, and all deals must include all remaining players.
  9. Deals will only be enforced for real money tournaments.
  10. Players may discuss any deal they wish. If the players request it, our staff will provide ICM, Chip Count or Even Split numbers to the players as possible deals.
    • ICM is the ‘Independent Chip Model’, a method of calculating each player’s equity in the remaining prize pool, based on the chip counts, the remaining payouts (less any money ‘on the table’), and the likelihood of each player winning each remaining prize in the tournament. This is the default method which will be offered to players.
    • Chip Count is a distribution of remaining prizes (less any money ‘on the table’) based solely on chip counts.
    • An Even Split divides the remaining prizes (less any money ‘on the table’) to all players.

    All deal numbers provided by our staff are not final until clearly agreed to by all players in the Chat Box. Players may discuss variations on those numbers if they want; our staff will then repeat the agreed deal in the Chat Box and ask the remaining players to all confirm their agreement.

  11. Players are obligated to play out their Heads-Up matches in a normal way, regardless of the identity of their opponent. Any 'flipping', chip dumping, or other activity classified as ‘abnormal’ game play is prohibited. Violation of this rule may result in penalties up to and including barring from our platform with forfeiture of funds. This rule does not apply to the final match of a scheduled Heads-Up tournament.

Dealing for Tournament Leader Board or Sit & Go Leader Board points is not allowed. Doing so may result in the revocation of all awarded Leader Board points for the deal-making players in the tournament.

9. Bounties

In some specially designated tournaments, a cash ‘bounty’ will be placed on some or all of the tournament participants. A player who eliminates such an opponent wins the cash bounty.

There are three types of bounty tournaments:

Knockout: A bounty is placed on every player. You win a cash prize for each player you eliminate. There are also Progressive Knockouts, where your bonus increases as you eliminate players.

Team Pro Bounty: A bounty is placed on every member of Team PokerStars who enters the tournament.

Fixed Bounty: A bounty is placed on a specific player in the tournament.

The bounty is awarded to the player who wins the ‘relevant pot’ for the hand in question, which may be the main pot or one of several side pots. ‘Relevant pot’ means the pot in which the bounty player was all-in for their final chips.

For example:

Daniel (100 chips), Barry (200 chips), Vanessa (400 chips), and Jake (1000 chips), are playing a hand in a No-Limit tournament.

Daniel moves all-in, and Barry, Vanessa and Jake call. The pot which Daniel is eligible for is known as the ‘main pot’. Betting continues ‘on the side’, in side pot 1.

Barry moves all-in, and Vanessa and Jake call. Betting continues between Vanessa and Jake in side pot 2.

Vanessa moves all-in, and Jake calls.

Barry shows the best hand. He wins side pot 1 and the main pot, eliminating Daniel. He receives the bounty for Daniel.

Jake shows the next best hand, and wins side pot 2, eliminating Vanessa. Jake wins the bounty for Vanessa.

Note that although Barry had the best hand overall, he didn’t have as many chips as Vanessa and therefore could not eliminate her. Jake however did have enough chips, and therefore wins Vanessa’s bounty.


In a split pot poker variant, such as Omaha Hi/Lo or Stud Hi/Lo, the bounty will always be awarded to the high hand. This is because a player cannot be eliminated by a low hand only.


In the event that two players show identical winning hands and therefore split the ‘relevant pot’ (or, in the case of a split pot poker variant as described in Rule 9.2, split the high half of the ‘relevant pot’), any bounty awarded will be divided equally between the winners. Odd cents will be awarded in turn to the players in the earliest positions.


If a bounty player wins the tournament:

  1. In a knockout tournament, the player is awarded their own bounty.
  2. In a Team Pro or fixed bounty tournament in which the Team Pro or fixed bounty player wins, the bounty is not awarded.

If a tournament advertises a bounty on a particular player, but that player does not register for the tournament, no bounty will be paid for that player.


Players may not make any agreement amongst themselves to eliminate a particular player in order to claim their bounty award. Such agreements are considered collusion and are grounds for disqualification from the tournament or other penalties. For more information, see Rules 6.1 and 6.2 above.

10. Cancellations

If we have to cancel a tournament for any reason, we try to compensate players in the fairest and most equitable way possible. There are three different possible compensation methods, depending on the exact circumstances and timing of the cancellation. Which method is applied is at the sole discretion of the tournament management.


Rollback: In this case, we 'roll back' the tournament as if it never happened. If you were registered for the tournament, you'll get your buy-in and fees (including rebuys, add-ons, and knockout entry if any) refunded. Also, the buy-in is refunded in exactly the same format with which you bought in. For instance, if you bought into a tournament using T$10 and $15 cash, then you would get back T$10 and $15 cash.


Roll Forward (No Players in the Money): If a tournament is cancelled and we do a 'roll forward' before the players are in the money, we refund each remaining player his tournament fee (and knockout bounty if appropriate), and then divide up the prize pool based on the following formula: 50% of the award pool is distributed evenly among all remaining players, and 50% of the award pool is distributed proportionally according to the chip count.


Roll Forward (Players are in the Money): When a tournament is cancelled, and players have already reached the money, we refund each remaining player his tournament fee (and knockout bounty if appropriate), and then divide up the prize pool based on the following formula: each player receives the minimum prize not yet awarded at the time of cancellation, and the remainder of the award pool distributed is distributed proportionally according to the chip count.

Heads-up Sit & Go tournaments (HU S&Gs) are handled differently because of their special nature. For example, if one player stays connected while the other player does not, the first player can effectively win the tournament while the second player is disconnected. For that reason, we reserve the right to do a chip count distribution of any HU S&G that we believe was substantially affected by our site's downtime.


If a tournament with a guaranteed prize pool is cancelled, we will refund only the total buy-ins, not the guaranteed amount.


If a tournament with fixed or Team Pro bounties is cancelled, we will refund only the regular prize pool (and knockout pool if applicable), not the fixed or Team Pro bounties.


Tournaments which award tickets, satellite entries or material prizes, in addition to cash, will only include the cash in the refund amount. Non-cash prizes will not be included in the roll forward or rollback equation.


We reserve the right to alter cancellation payouts or to alter this policy

11. Heads-Up Tournaments

In a Heads-Up tourney, players compete in a multi-round event against a series of opponents until they are eliminated, or defeat the last player standing. Exact details of tournament structure and prize pool can be found in the tournament lobby.


Unless a tournament starts with exactly 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 or 128 players, some players in the heads-up tournament will have byes past the first round. Other players will play an extra first-round match, and the tournament will play down to 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 or 64 players before progressing to the second round. No players will have byes past the first round, and all byes are randomly selected from the field of entrants.

12. Early payout tournaments

Early payout tournaments work the same way as regular tournaments with one important exception:

  • Once the tournament reaches the paid positions, all eligible players will instantly receive the minimum cash amount specified in the tournament's prize structure. 
  • A pop-up message will appear on the table advising all eligible players they have received the prize.
  • The tournament will then carry on as usual. After a player is eliminated from the tournament (or wins it), a second payment for any difference between the minimum cash amount and the total prize earned will be credited to that player's account. If a higher prize hasn't been earned, there will be no second payment.

By making that initial tournament prize immediately available, players will have more options at their disposal to use their winnings.