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World Championship of Cornhole 2008

So you want to have a Cornhole Tournament? First step is to figure out what type of tournament to have. Then, you’ll have to consider issues of money, location, supplies, organization, and more! With all these things to think about, it’s easy to miss an important step.

I’ve asked around in the Cornhole forum for some information about tournaments. The following is the second of 3 guest articles by “tednwv” from the Cornhole Players forum. Ted has shared with us the many facets of putting together a cornhole tournament, based on his experiences. Obviously some things below may not be as important than others, and it’s possible certain things may have been overlooked. We’d love to hear any and all of your comments! ( as long as they’re helpful, of course )

Throwing Together A Cornhole Tournament

Guest article by Ted Dillon, Cornhole Forum member “tednwv“.
Edited by Jeremy.

I would like to talk about my experiences on putting together/attending cornhole tournaments and what I perceive others to like. (This is my opinion so don’t scrutinize me over it)

(You can replace the word “Teams” with “Players” anywhere below if you are running a Singles Tournament. A Singles Tournament is one player playing against another player.)

  • Choose to hold a “Benefit Tournament” or a “100% Payout”. For a Benefit Tournament, you’ll start by picking your favorite charity or organization. Most tournament directors will split the pot 50/50. Half the entry fees will go to the organization you choose, and the other half will be the team payouts. 100% payout basically means that whatever you decide to charge for an entry fee will go back to the teams.
  • Decide on the entry fee, date, time and location. Take into consideration the number of players, the space the boards will take up, restrooms, and food & drinks. A good entry fee for a basic team tournament would be $20-$40. (Half that for Singles Tournament). Decide if you want to have teams pre-register or sign up the day of the event. Teams could get discounts if they register early. If you decide on sign ups the day of the event, give it at least an hour before the tournament begins so teams can practice. It would be better to give yourself 1 1/2 hrs. The last half hour could be used for placing teams in brackets.
  • Have plenty of boards and bags ready! Teams don’t like sitting around for a very long time. The more boards and bags you have, the more practice the teams can get in before the tournament starts.
  • Use all matching boards and bags. If you have different sets of boards and bags, teams will question whether or not one set of boards/bags are better than the other. If all the boards are made and painted to look the same, teams will accept it better. Boards should be set 27 ft. apart, from front to front.
  • Music! Have some type of music playing in the background. Make it a happy/loose atmosphere! Don’t have it blasting too loud though. Another option would be to see if a local radio station could do a “Live Broadcast” at your event. Maybe even a DJ?
  • Decide on Single Elimination, Double Elimination or Round Robin. Have brackets ready to go for the tournament you decide. Your decision should be influenced by the number of players that are planning to attend and the time allotted for the tournament. More on Different Types of Tournaments.
  • Have Brackets Ready. If you estimate that you will have 20-25 teams, then print all of the brackets for 20-25 teams. Brackets are usually numbered in the order that the matches will be played. Have someone specifically in charge of the bracket and keep it rolling smoothly. Don’t have boards empty with no one playing. When a board is empty, fill it with another game in the order of the bracket. Keep the tournament rolling.
  • Pay-outs. How will you pay out the winners? Decide if you want to pay out to the Top 3, Top 2, or have a “Winner Takes All” tournament.
  1. Top 3 can be a split of 60%-30%-10% of half the entry fees.
  2. Top 2 can be split many different ways. 90%-10%, 80%-20%, 70%-30%, 60%-40% of half the entry fees. I would not recommend a 50%-50% split. What is the point in playing for the championship if you get paid the same for 1st or 2nd?
  3. Winner Takes All is self explanatory.
  • Forming Teams. You will need to decide how teams are going to be formed. You have two options. (This will not be an option if you decide on a Singles Tournament)
  1. Option 1: The teams have already been set, everyone came to the tournament with their own partner.
  2. Option 2: Place every players name in a hat and draw two names at a time, those two players will be on a team. This is also referred to as “Blind Draw Tournament”. My experience shows this has little interest for the more serious teams.
  • Rules. Decide on a set of rules. Most people refer to the rules from the ACA or ACO web sites. You can also make your own rules however you like. Make sure you have at least one person “in charge” who can make decisions on game conflicts and will stand by their decision. Make it clear that the person “in charge” has the final say in the rulings.
  • Filling the Tournament Bracket. Now you will need to decide on how to draw for the spots on the tournament bracket. There are two options for doing this.
  1. Option 1: Place each team’s name in a hat and begin drawing the teams one at a time placing the first team drawn on the first blank line, the second team drawn on the second blank line and so on.
  2. Option 2: Place all the numbers in a hat and when the teams sign up, they pick a number out and that is where they will be placed in the bracket. This seems to be quicker. Saves time after registration is over so you can get the tournament started on time.
  • The Coin Flip. The coin flip will decide a few things. Whoever wins the coin flip has choice of throwing either first or last, and/or choice of which side of the board to throw from. Generally it decides who throws first. Most non-sanctioned tournaments will let players throw from the same side of the board if they want. It never really changes. Just when you are ready to start your next match, flip a coin to see who goes first.
  • Start Your Tournament! Play until a winner has been decided.

The MOST IMPORTANT part of any tournament is explaining the rules and format BEFORE the tournament begins! When you print your flyers or post your tournament online, put the rules and format in it so there won’t be any questions. You could also put an email or phone number if teams have questions concerning the tournament. If teams don’t like the rules, they won’t show up.

REMEMBER! The more games you can guarantee a team to play, the more teams you will get to play! Teams are looking for the biggest bang for their buck!

{ 8 comments }
  • Harley April 2, 2009, 8:53 am

    Ted-

    Nice articles, lots of helpful tips. Many thanks-

    Harley (BuckIBoards)

  • Mark April 19, 2009, 11:55 pm

    Thanks for the great article. One thing worth mentioning is permits. I’m currently setting up a tournament in San Diego on the beach and I have to get a special event permit through the city. I think this is true for all public gatherings.

  • Rita May 5, 2009, 7:31 am

    I volunteered to set up a benefit cornhole tournament and this information was exactly what I needed to get started. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tavi May 14, 2009, 3:24 am

    I like qality article like this and I looking forward to see more like “Throwing Together A Cornhole Tournament”

  • Wilfred Broaddus June 14, 2010, 5:08 am

    This was a Great post, I will save this in my Furl account. Have a great day.

  • Annette July 29, 2015, 2:09 pm

    Thanks for the info, it was a big help

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