Home Poker Tournament - Payout Structure


The payout structure of a poker tournament can vary from conservative (where many of the players receive some kind of payout) to top-heavy (where most of the money goes to a few of the players). Most poker players prefer top-heavy payout structures because they can win a larger amount. If you are playing a game with inexperienced players it might be better to have a more flat payout structure to reward marginal players - if most players keep losing then they may stop playing to your games.

Types of Payout Structures

  • Conservative - A conservative (i.e. flatter) payout structure will usually pay out money to about 20-25% of players. Usually, the first few players who finish in-the-money will simply get their buy-in back, and only people who finish higher than that will actually turn a profit. The winner of the tourney may only get about 20% of the total money.

  • Top-heavy - A top-heavy payout structure will only pay out money to about 10% of the players. Usually, the winner of the tourney will get about 30-50% of the total money and the rest of the payouts will decline quickly.

Whether or not the tournament has a flat or steep payout structure, the winner of the tournament will typically get about double of the 2nd place finisher.

Most single-table tournaments have standard payout structures. For a full single-table tourney (8-10 people), the most common payout structure is to pay the top 3 players with 50% / 30% / 20%. For a short-handed (6 people) tourney, the most common payout is 60% / 40% to the top 2 people. You can check out my home poker game spreadsheet if you want a tournament payout calculator to see how much each player will get paid.

Sample Payout Structure

Here are two sample payout structures for a single and multi-table tournament.

6 player tournament - 2 players paid

Place % Payout
1 70%
2 30%
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -

20 player tournament - 5 players paid

Place % Payout
1 45%
2 25%
3 15%
4 10%
5 5%
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -


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Game Structure - Payout Structure

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