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Geoff Fisk

What is a Freezeout Poker Tournament?


A freezeout poker tournament is a poker tournament in which each player only gets one entry. If you enter a freezeout, your time in the tournament is over when you lose all of your chips.

Freezeouts differ from other types of poker tournaments, which allow players to buy in multiple times. Tournament formats like re-entry and rebuy allow you to buy back into the tournament with a new starting stack if you lose all of your chips.

Let’s take a closer look at the rules of freezeout poker events:

Freezeout Poker Rules

The freezeout is the most traditional type of poker tournament. The world’s most famous and prestigious freezeout poker tournament is the World Series of Poker Main Event, which plays out in Las Vegas each year.

The WSOP Main Event and many other live and online poker tournaments around the world use the freezeout format.

Take a look at the tournament schedule at the Lodge, and you’ll see that some tournaments play as freezeouts, while others permit re-entry.

For example, let’s say you play the Friday $4K Guaranteed No-Limit Hold’em Freezeout at the Lodge. Click on that listing on the Lodge Tournaments page, and you’ll see the following details for the tournament:

Friday Freezeout at the Lodge

  • Buy-In: $120
  • Starting Stack: 30,000 chips
  • 20-minute levels (late entry allowed through Level 7)
  • $4,000 guaranteed prize pool

When you enter this Texas Hold’em freezeout, you pay $120 to get a seat, and you start with 30,000 chips. The blinds increase every 20 minutes, and you have until the end of Level 7 to enter the tournament.

If you lose all of your chips, you’re out of the tournament. Whether you’re the first player eliminated or you make it to the final table, your tournament ends when you run out of chips.

Compare that to the $15,000 Guaranteed Sunday Single Re-Entry Deep Stack Event on the Lodge schedule:

Sunday Single Re-Entry Deep Stack at the Lodge

  • Buy-In: $250
  • Starting Stack: 35,000 chips
  • 30-minute levels (late entry allowed through Level 9)
  • $15,000 guaranteed prize pool
  • One re-entry allowed

The buy-in, level structure, and prize pool are all a bit different between this tournament and the $4K Freezeout. The biggest difference though, by far, is that this tournament allows one re-entry per player.

That means that if you get knocked out of the tournament (i.e. lose all of your chips), you can re-enter for another $250 and get a new 35,000-chip starting stack. Each player in this tournament can re-enter once and would have to do so before the end of the late entry period at the end of Level 9.

Some tournaments allow unlimited re-entry through the end of the late registration period, while others limit the number of times a player can re-enter.

Let’s look at one other kind of poker tournament format. The Lodge’s Tuesday $15,000 Guaranteed Freeroll event includes rebuys and add-ons.

Rebuy tournaments are common in both live multi-table tournaments (MTTs) and at online poker sites. Here’s a look at the details for the $15,000 Freeroll:

Tuesday $15K Freeroll At the Lodge

  • Buy-In: $30
  • Starting Stack: 15,000 chips
  • 15-minute levels (late entry allowed through Level 9)
  • $15,000 guaranteed prize pool
  • Five $20 rebuys allowed (10,000 chips per $20 rebuy; max of 50,000 chips)
  • Five $20 add-ons allowed at the end of Level 8 (10,000 chips per $20 add-on; max of 50,000 chips)

Rebuy/add-on tournaments allow to you add chips to your stack under certain conditions.

In the Tuesday $15K Freeroll, you can rebuy for up to 50,000 extra chips if your stack is at 15,000 or below. You start this tournament with 15,000 chips, so you could add 50,000 chips to your stack for an extra $100 before the first hand is even dealt.

You can also purchase up to five add-ons ($20 per 10,000 chips at the end of Level 8. Once the rebuy/add-on period ends, you can’t re-enter the tournament or purchase more chips once you’ve been eliminated.

The rebuy/add-on structure creates a situation where poker players have many options as to how to use the extra chips to their advantage.

Freezeout Poker Strategy

Rebuy tournaments and re-entry tournaments allow for more aggressive play in the early levels compared to freezeouts. The relatively short stack size at the start and implications of busting out of a freezeout dictate a more conservative tournament strategy in the early stages of the event.

In rebuy and re-entry tournaments, players can aggressively aim to double up in the early blind levels, with the insurance of knowing they can replenish their stacks. Aggressive preflop play is perhaps more effective in rebuy/re-entry tournaments, as you can reload much like you would in cash games.

In tournaments with no rebuys and no re-entry, however, the incentive to build a big stack or become the chip leader in the early levels is greatly reduced.

In a rebuy or re-entry tournament, you can lose your stack several times over and still make it to the middle stages of the event and beyond. In a freezeout, all it takes is one bad matchup of poker hands (say pocket kings versus pocket aces) and your tournament is over.

As in any game, playing your best poker is the best way to find success in a freezeout. Keep in mind, however, that you can’t make it to the payout ladder if you get eliminated in an early hand.

You’ll find freezeout tournaments at poker rooms around the world, and these events are usually specifically labeled as freezeouts for a reason.

Whatever the buy-in is for a freezeout, you can count on that price being good for one shot at winning the tournament. Freezeout buy-ins are relatively easy to calculate as they pertain to your poker bankroll.

Rebuy and re-entry tournaments often cost much more than the advertised buy-in. If you want to play optimally in these events, be prepared to pay the max in terms of maximum rebuys and maximum add-ons allowed.

You’ll find plenty of freezeouts, as well as rebuy and re-entry tournaments, on the Lodge tournament schedule. Be sure to know what tournament type you’re getting into before you enter, and tailor your poker strategy for each event type.

More to explore

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