EPT Amends Tournament Payout Structures Once Again

When the European Poker Tour’s thirteenth season began in August, PokerStars, the headline sponsor and operator of the EPT, announced that changes had been made to the payout structure of the Tour’s events. Shortly thereafter, some changes were reversed. And now, a month later, further modifications have been made to the way the Tour will distribute its prize pools.

The original adjustment, which came with EPT Barcelona last month, was to have tournaments payout to more places in order to allow more players to bust out with at least a modicum of contentedness. Rather than the traditional 15 percent payout structure, 20 percent of the field would make the money. In an interview with PokerNews, PokerStars Department Head of Live Poker Operations Neil Johnson noted that half the players during the last European Poker Tour season only played in one or two events. And it’s not like all of the EPT events have four-and-five figure buy-ins like at the World Series of Poker. There are loads of smaller, three-digit buy-in tournaments, generally considered very affordable for those with the desire to play in big tournament series such as the EPT.

Johnson explained:

We started looking at the payouts in a vacuum and to see what made sense. We took all the preconceptions out of it. We saw that if we would pay out 20 percent instead of 15 percent, we could give 5 percent of the field a do-over. It’s effectively like saying ‘Thanks for coming, I hope you had a lot of fun. Sorry you didn’t make it into the big money, good luck the next time because here’s money for another shot.” If someone has a buy-in to play another poker tournament, that’s a good thing. So that’s the direction we ended up going.

ept_logoOf course, deeper payouts meant less money at the top of the leader board, something that did not please poker pros, who rely on the giant paydays to make up for the variance of large-field poker tournaments. Shortly after the interview, PokerStars decided to go back to the 15 percent structure for €50,000 Super High Roller and €25,000 Single-Day High Roller events.

On Monday, Neil Johnson announced on the PokerStars blog that the payout structure changes had been reevaluated and adjustments were made once again. Rehashing the August announcement a bit, Johnson wrote that while EPT Barcelona went swimmingly, he knows that not everyone was happy about the payout structure:

Specific to the payouts, while we listened to feedback at the time and made changes to two of the events then and there, we’ve listened and read even more since. As mentioned in discussions during Barcelona, we strongly believe (and have crunched the numbers and the available data as well) that paying out a slightly higher percentage of players is better for the overall growth of the game we all love. It allows for approximately 5% more players to go home feeling like they won something and/or have another shot at winning top prizes at final tables in a new event. We also spoke with the High Roller community as there are definite differences in the poker economy between players playing five and six figure buyin events and players playing three and four figure buyin events (point #1 below).

One of the conclusions that was drawn was that while 20 percent was good number for the depth of tournament payouts, it should be a ceiling, not a floor. That is, payouts should not go deeper than that. The other was that the min-cash needed to be increased a bit.

“….many players were ok with a 1.1x type cash but many felt like they just got their money back and didn’t ‘win’ anything,” Johnson said. “Since one of the key points in our change was to create more winners and more winning moments and the 1.1x cash doesn’t necessarily qualify as a winning moment to some of our players an amendment was needed. Therefore we decided to go back and raise the min-cash to something with more substance and it is now in the 1.5x range (point #3 below).”

Thus, for the next two European Poker Tour stops – EPT Malta and EPT Prague – the payout structure will follow these rules:

• All events of €10,000 or more will retain the previous 12%-15% payout structure.

• All other events will payout an expanded 17%-20% of the field, but a 20% ceiling will be in place.

• For the expanded payouts, we have made adjustments to increase the minimum cash and give all players a more meaningful return. We have also flattened the incline to eliminate the double bubble effect that took place during EPT Barcelona. The new min-cash should fall around 1.5x the buyin of the event.

“We’d like to think that we’ve got a lot more things right than not, and we’re proud to say that we will keep trying new things and pushing boundaries,” Johnson added later in the blog post. “It’s not always an easy balance to maintain when you’re weighing up data, planning the next event, playing with new ideas and trying to factor all that against how we think you, the player, will like it.”

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