What Is a Freezeout Poker Tournament?

When It Comes to Chips -- When You're Out, You're Out

Chips at casino table with cards on table
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A freezeout poker tournament is the most common kind of poker tournament. You pay your buy-in and get your chips and play until you run out of chips (or win, of course). Players cannot rebuy into the tournament if they run out of chips. Once the chips run out for a player, it's over. The World Series of Poker Main Event is a freezeout tournament. Most online poker tournaments are freezeouts.

Rebuy, reentry, and add-on may be allowed in a poker tournament through a specified period, such as until the first break. After this period, the tournament is now a freezeout tournament. If you lose all of your chips from this point forward, you are busted out of the tournament -- it's over for you.

When you buy into a poker tournament, check the rules for that tournament to see at what point it becomes a freezeout, or whether it is a freezeout from the first hand. This may influence your type of play since you will want to manage your stack appropriately.

Freezeouts for Tournaments With Rebuys and Reentries

If you are in a tournament that allows rebuys and reentries before the first break, you may see some aggressive play by short stacked players as the break approaches. They know it is their last chance to grow their stack before the freezeout. It becomes a choice of going into the freezeout short on chips or spending the extra money to rebuy or reenter with a full stack of chips. If you have a big stack as you get close to the freezeout period, you may be able to capitalize on the play of the short stacked players who are looking to bust out or double up.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Freezeout Tournaments

Some players prefer tournaments that are freezeout from the first hand. In general, these tournaments will be of shorter duration, as eliminated players can't return. Tournaments with rebuys and reentries are often lengthened by the period of time before they become freezeouts. While some players will leave after they bust out the first time (or the second), there are many who choose rebuy or reentry. When the tournament turns into a freezeout after the break, often there are still as many players in the tournament as there was at the beginning of the tournament.

A disadvantage of the freezeout format is that the prize pool isn't built further by the extra fees from rebuys and reentries. For small tournaments, that can mean a much smaller prize pool that may pay fewer places than it would have if rebuys and reentries were allowed until the first break. It becomes a trade-off for either a shorter duration tournament or a larger prize pool.

Always check the format for the tournament you are entering, whether it is a live game or online, and understand whether it is a freezeout or at what point it becomes a freezeout.