To play in players of a tournament have to pay two fees. They have to pay an entrance fee to the poker room receiving the tournament to cover the costs involved. This gives the player an assigned seat and a set amount of tournament chips with which to play (these chips have no cash value). Players also pay a purchase fee. The purchase fee is held and paid out as prizes. The prize payout differs from the tournament to the tournament but everything typically goes to the few players lucky enough to make the table.
The object of a tournament is to win all chips. All tournament players start out with the same amount of chips to play with and everyone starts playing at the same time. Players play until they lose all their chips and then are removed from the tournament. A tournament continues straight, often for several hours, until only one person remains. As the playing progresses the stakes rise (the blinds are doubled in a synchronized interval), making it increasingly difficult for players with short stacks to stay in the game.
Players are awarded the prize money based on their finishing position in the tournament. Top finishers earn the most money with the 1st place winner usually receiving about 30% of the total prize money, the 2nd place winner about 20% and so on. The number of winners and the size of the payouts depend on the rules for the tournament being played and the number of people playing.
The betting tournament is structured with the betting limit increasing regularly. Changes in betting limits occur differently depending on the tournament.
Larger tournaments start out with more than one table, each having 8 to 10 players. As the tournament progresses the players will be eliminated and the number of players in each table will not remain the same. For the tournament to be fair the number of players in each table must be the same, so organizers move players from the table to the table in an attempt to keep all tables equally populated.
Balancing is the practice of mobile players from full tables to less crowded tables when the difference is 3 or more players.
Tearing down the tables is the practice of removing the tables once there are enough empty spaces between the rest of the tables to do so. Thus with 10 player tables when there are 10 empty spaces move the players from a table to the empty spaces and that table is taken from play.