In a multi-table tournament, players start with a fixed number of chips. Players at numerous tables compete for one another's chips as the blinds and/or antes increase incrementally. As players are eliminated, tables are "broken", meaning players are re-assigned to keep tables full, or even with one another. Eventually, the last few surviving players with chips are assigned to the final table, where the eventual winner is the individual who wins all the chips from his or her opponents. Cash prizes are awarded to top finishers on the basis of number of tournament entries.
A satellite is a smaller tournament in which the prize is an entry into a larger tournament. Satellites are inexpensive to enter compared with multi-table tournaments. While a multi-table tournament may carry a $200 buy-in, one can buy into a satellite for $20 and win a $200 seat in the multi-table tournament. Multi-table satellites are scheduled as regular tournaments, and the sign-up details and play are identical.
An example of how a satellite would work: The buy in for the larger tournament is $200+$20. The buy in for the satellite is $20+$2. If there are 10 entrants (into the satellite), first place will get an entry to the larger tournament. If there are 20 entrants then 1st and 2nd place will receive entry to the larger tournament. If there are 23 entrants, 1st and 2nd place will get entries to the larger tournament and 3rd place will get a $60 prize.
If there is a cost to enter either a tournament or satellite, it will be denoted by stating the buy-in amount and the entry fee. A cost of "30+3" indicates that the buy-in is $30, and the entry fee is $3. The $30 goes to the prize pool which the players compete for, while the $3 entry fee is taken as compensation for hosting the tournament.
There is another type of tournament, a "freeroll", in which entry is completely free. There is no buy-in and no entry fee, but there are cash prizes available to win.
These tournaments can be easily found by clicking on the "Tourney" tab in the main client window. We hold several such events daily, leading to a Weekly Round 2 championship.
During peak hours (6pm to 3am), these tournaments have limited enrollment to prevent server overload. They are very popular and you may have difficulties getting in before they fill up. The offpeak tournaments have no limit on the number of players.
Note: All references using dollar signs ($) are for illustration only. Betting on PokerStars.net involves zero cash value 'play money' chips only.