What is a Buy-in? - Paying for Tournaments

A tournament buy-in is the payment made in order to play in a tournament. Generally, it is includes the donation to the prize plus the tournament fee.

What do the Buy-in Numbers Mean?

When you want to enter a tournament, you'll see that the buy in is a set of numbers like $10+$1. In that case, the $10 is the amount that you are donating to the prize pool while the single dollar is a tournament fee that you pay to the poker room that is hosting your tournament. Some tournaments offer a prize pool that is simply the total number of dollars that the players have entered into the tournament. Other tournaments have a guaranteed minimum regardless of the number of participants.

When Do I Buy in?

When you're playing at a scheduled tournament, you need to buy in to reserve your place in the tournament. This should be done at least five to ten minutes before the tournament. Few tournaments limit the number of participants, but some do. If you want to participate in a tournament with a limited number of players, you'll want to register as soon as you hear about it. Then you'll need to stay close to the computer so that you'll know when the tournament is about to begin. If you aren't logged in at the time of the tournament, you will be disqualified. Some poker rooms will take your buy-in even if you don't play at all, while others will simply unregister you if you're not logged in when the tournament begins. Read the rules carefully before you buy in for a tournament you might not be available for.

Can I Buy in More Than Once?

You can only buy in once per tournament. If you have more than one username on the same site and both play in the tournament, the poker room may close both accounts and seize all your money. It's very important that you only be logged in once, that you only buy in once, and that you only have one account in each poker room that you frequent.

Can My Friend Register Me for a Tournament?

Online poker sites do not allow one player to perform any action for another player, as this would be too likely to end in fraud or theft. Due to high security concerns, you should only use an account that is registered in your name, and you should only play a tournament from your own account. Bear in mind that this will protect you, too. If you play with a friend's money and lose it, your friend may be angry with you. If you play with a friend's money and win big, you may fight over the money with your friend.

How Can I Play in a Tournament With a High Buy-in?

A lot of online poker rooms have high level tournaments that you can win entry into by way of satellite tournaments. Win at one of the lower level tournaments, and you'll have your buy-in for the higher level tournament!