Daniel Negreanu Offers Opinion on Re-Entry Tourneys
How many times has this happened to you? You pay your $3,500 to play on the first day of a big poker tournament and do well enough to make it to Day 2. When you take your seat on that second day, though, you see someone you already knocked out sitting there right next to you! I mean, what’s up with that? You ask the guy and he says, “Yeah man, nice hand the other day. I bought back in on Day 1B, got lucky, and here I am!”
If that has happened to you with any sort of reliable frequency, I would like to congratulate you for your standing in life, as you not only make it past the first day in tournaments a lot, but you also have quite a nice bankroll to keep spending on said tourneys. But yeah, if this was a video game, you might just rage-quit on the spot. How in the world does that happen?
It is called a re-entry tournament. This format is usually seen in a large tournament with multiple starting days and allows players to re-register for another buy-in and fee should they bust out. Typically, players can only re-enter on a subsequent starting day, so if a player is eliminated on Day 1A, they can give it another go on Day 1B or Day 1C (or both). If someone busts out on the final starting day, they can’t usually re-enter on Day 2 (though there are some re-entry formats that allow that for a higher price). The Bellagio takes it a step further, allowing for unlimited re-entry as long as registration is still open.
Lots of players don’t like the re-entry format because it gives an unnecessary advantage to deep-pocketed players (players who are often also the most skilled players and don’t any more of an advantage) and forces amateurs to reach further into their bankrolls to keep up. Unlimited re-entry can also foster crazy play, as some players will just make nutty moves in hopes of doubling up and just re-buying if they fail.
Daniel Negreanu addressed re-entry tournaments in his latest blog, found on his website, FullContactPoker.com. He first explained why re-entry tourneys have become more commonplace, particularly on the World Poker Tour:
Take a typical casino like Bellagio. In order to get an event at Bellagio, the poker management team needs to convince the higher ups that having a poker tournament in the casino would be lucrative for their bottom line. If they are unable to convince the bosses that it will be profitable, they simply can’t have the event. It’s in YOUR best interest that the poker management team can create a pitch to the decision makers that it’s a good idea. When they accomplish that – you benefit.
Multi-entry tournaments has [sic] been a carrot that has gotten the attention of higher ups. Instead of having, say, 250 people paying $400 in juice for a total of $100k in revenue, if that number rises to 600 entries you now have $240k in revenue. This makes the bosses smile, and again, if the bosses don’t smile we simply don’t have an event.
Negreanu does say that despite their drawbacks, re-entry tournaments do give the benefit of providing more opportunities to play tournament poker for players who want to make the most of their time at the venue, mainly players who travel from a long ways to be there. Without re-entry tournaments, someone could travel all day to play, bust out early, then have to turn around and go home.
Negreanu himself doesn’t like re-entry tournaments, saying, “I assume some of you are surprised that I don’t like re-entry events, since I will often fire multiple bullets to help me get a big stack. I would rather play ‘good poker’ from the outset, rather than gamble recklessly to increase my chances of winning the tournament.”
He adds, though, that because he has the means, he will happily re-enter as much as necessary if the tournament rules are setup to allow it. He wants to win, profit be damned.
He does have a solution for the re-entry problem, though, inspired by the European Poker Tour. The EPT does not have re-entry tournaments, yet continues to thrive and grow. Here are his observations:
So how has the EPT been able to remain so successful in satisfying venues while keeping their main events re-entry free? Well, for one, the amount of online qualifiers registered through PokerStars helps, but there is a different reason that is a win for all parties; the venue, the EPT, and the players. They create a festival AFTER the main event begins. For ages, tournaments in the US would run two to four weeks of prelims, then have a week long main event. Bust the main event, and there is nothing left to play. You could play cash games, but as mentioned, that isn’t happening.
It’s also more difficult to run successful prelims when it requires players to make 2-3 week trips to a venue. If you have postlims, people don’t need to extend their trips past what they already expected to fly in for to play the main event. By offering guys like Joe Hachem, who travels 24 hours to play a tournament in the US, more than just one opportunity to play a tournament, it’s a much more enticing proposition for him to fly over.
In a sense, the EPT gives players re-entry opportunities, it’s just that those re-entries are in different tournaments. Main events are traditionally at the end of poker festivals, but the EPT realized there is no reason this has to be the case, so it puts these mains somewhere in the middle and gives players more tournaments to try if they don’t make it deep in the Main Event. The venue continues to rake in the fees and additional revenue from players hanging around, the players get to continue to enjoy poker and have more chances to win, and the EPT gets the image boost to help it market the tour to other venues in the future.