A number of decks of comparable strength, at least as many decks as players in the tournament, is prepared and the decklists are made publicly available. An auctioneer then selects a deck and the participating players bid life points and hand cards below a starting value previously announced. Often this starting point is 25 to 30 life and eight hand cards. In value, hand cards take precedence e.g. 6 cards, 25 life is lower than 7 cards and 1 life, but sometimes fixed conversion rates are used. The lowest bidder is awarded the deck to use it in the tournament and may not bid on any other decks.
After bidding is concluded, the players play a regular tournament with the decks they won in the action. However, every player starts with the number of cards in his hand and life total according to their winning bid. Due to this, players with largely better and therefore in the auction highly contested decks have a handicap compared to players with worse and less contested decks.