Normal Tournaments: These are the tournaments that started it all; both in the online poker world and years before in the offline poker world. These are tournaments where you pay an entry fee up front, face-off against a number of other players and if you are lucky enough and determined enough, end up in the money where you win back at least the same amount of money that you put in if not more. The World Series of Poker is full of normal tournaments and of course the Main Event is a normal tournament with no limit Texas Hold 'Em as the featured card game.
Re-Buy Tournaments: In the evolution of online poker tournament play, it is difficult to peg down exactly what the first change to the normal tournament format was, but many poker historians will agree that re-buy tournaments were perhaps the first nuanced poker tournament to come along. They were certainly the first to be implemented online after normal tournaments, because it was the easiest format to program into most of the software systems.
Re-buy tournaments function a lot like normal tournaments, but the main difference is that if you get knocked out in the early stage of the tournament, you can then “re-buy” into the tournament by paying another entry fee. This entitles you to another starting stack of chips and the ability to keep playing. Some re-buy tournaments, at the end of the re-buy period, will also allow you the one-time chance to purchase extra chips to add to your stack. This is known as an “add-on” and after that purchase option has been given, all tournament eliminations are final.
Shootout Tournaments: One final tournament type that is worth mentioning is the shootout tournament. This is a tournament that you will see a lot more as an online poker tournament than as an offline one, simply because it is much easier to manage in cyberspace. In shootout tournaments, you play a series of single-table sit n' goes with the winner of each sit n' go moving on to the next round. In this way, the field is cut down drastically until only the players at the final table are left. This tournament type rewards aggressive play and punishes passive, “fold your way to the top” type play and this is perhaps why it is so popular as an online poker tournament type.