Do some checking around on blackjack tournaments and you'll see that there's not much difference in their playing formats. Elimination tournaments are the most popular and the most widely offered. These tournaments are organized by heats or elimination rounds. After a certain period of time, or after a certain number of hands are played, the player with the most money is declared the table winner. The other players are eliminated. Depending on the size of the tournament, more than one heat or elimination round might be necessary.
The table winners from the preliminary rounds compete against each other in a semifinal round. Again, each table declares a winner or winners. These individuals go on to compete for the top prize. The number of finalists varies depending on the tournament. Most tournaments crown the same number of finalists as there are spots at a blackjack table — typically six or seven.
Blackjack tournaments can also be played in a nonelimination format. These aren't common, mostly because the format isn't as popular with players. Nonelimination tournaments group all contestants into a large pool. There might be multiple competition sessions, but they're for convenience sake, not to eliminate players. Everyone stays in competition.
Some nonelimination tournaments pull the top players together after a certain period of time and have them play a final round at one table. At others, competitors just keep playing for the duration. As in elimination tournaments, the player or players with the most money at the end of all playing sessions wins.
Chip totals do not carry forward from round to round. Each round starts with each player having an equal amount of chips. Plus, some tournaments will let players rebuy or put additional money of their own into the pot so they can get back in the tournament.