word type: noun

  1. The up-front fee that must be paid in order to play in a tournament. The buy-in also typically includes a "rake" given to the poker room.
  2. The minimum amount necessary to play in a cash game.

Buy-In Notation

You will see buy-ins listed two ways. The first splits out the rake that is taken by the poker room. For example, you might see the price of a tournament listed as "$100 + $9." In this case, the $100 is the portion that goes to the prize pool and the $9 is the rake. You will often hear people refer to the first part as the "buy-in" and the second part as the "fee."

The other way buy-ins are noted is with the rake included. In the example above, the tournament price would be shown as $109. While it is easy to tell what the rake is in this case (the only thing that really makes sense is $100 for the prize pool and $9 for the rake), be sure to check the tournament details to verify how the buy-in is divided.

You Should Also Know...

Just because one tournament has a higher buy-in than another, doesn't mean that the more expensive tournament will have a larger prize pool. It all depends on how many people enter. Sometimes, the higher cost keeps people away, while other times, the game for that tournament may not be as attractive to players.

Case in point: at the 2008 World Series of Poker, the $10,000 Seven Card Stud World Championship had a $1,485,000 prize pool, whereas the first $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em event had a $5,363,085 prize pool. Why? The former tournament attracted fewer players because of the steep price, as well as the lesser popularity of Seven Card Stud versus Hold'em.

Related Terms

Tournament, Rebuy, Add-On