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If you plan on entering poker tournaments, know that most poker tournaments are freezeouts. In a freezeout, you play until one person has all the chips, combining tables as you eliminate players. First place gets a lot of the money, second gets somewhat less, and so on, down to a set number that gets paid out. It's usually 10-15% of the field.
A less popular form of tournament is called a shootout. Shootouts vary a little bit, but the most common structure goes something like this: if there are 81 players, there are nine tables of nine players each. The player who wins each table advances to the final table. Then the payouts are based on how long you last at the final table.