Free Entry vs Buy-in

Are you into online slot tournaments? Maybe you are aware of their existence, but you’ve never thought about entering one. Not yet, anyway. If you want to change that, the best way to do so is to learn more about how they work first.

Most tournaments offer one of two ways to enter. Some are free to enter while others offer a buy-in. These are just as they sound, too – they’re either free to take part in, or the buy-in means you must pay a small fee to enter. So, how do you decide which one is best?

Free entry

This is great if you want to save your cash for making real bets on the slot game being used in that tournament. It is also good for anyone on a low budget, as it makes it easier and more convenient to enter some tourneys.

It also means the prize pool is likely to be smaller. It will usually be set at a specific amount prior to the tournament starting. You won’t find any huge jackpots in free tournaments… at least, it is very unlikely.


These sometimes have fewer players, since everyone will need to pay a small fee to take part in the tournament when it goes live. However, that means there are better odds on winning a prize for all those taking part.

The presence of a buy-in means the prize pool is likely to be larger than you’d see in a free-to-enter tournament. Sometimes, you will see a guaranteed amount on offer as the prize pool, and this could reach into four figures. However, the prize pool may simply be the pot, which means you cannot know how big or small it would be. It depends on the number of people who decide to take part in the tournament.

Which one would suit you?

Many slot players start with the free tournaments and go from there. Some may never progress to paid tournaments, while others might allocate some of their budget to the buy-ins for bigger tournaments each month.

If you want a shot at winning bigger prizes, the buy-in versions are always the best ones to try. But do look at the prize pool before you take part, and see whether there is just one prize available, or whether it will be split among several winners.