It’s been a while since I have written anything.  I’ve been busy pursuing other, non-poker related projects.  However, I have had a bit of time to travel, with one trip being to Atlantic City.

Between this, an article written by Matt Savage, a 2+2 thread attached, and my experiences playing many events around the country, I felt that it might be appropriate to write on the subject.

There are a few things that are addressed in the article that I wish to expand upon, while adding my own thoughts.  Matt, says that he is looking to cut back the number of re-entry tournaments due to the fact that it hurts the amateur player (or the fiscally challenged) and the casino bottom line.   There is also a debate on whether rake should be charged on the events.

I recently played the WPT Borgata series.  I played 6 events, or so, totaling about $2700 in buy ins.  Now, I didn’t have to re-enter any of the events, busting sometime after the re-entry period.  All the events, excluding the heads up and the survivor tournaments (I think) were re-entry.  Personally, I don’t mind the re-entries by principle.  However, I wish that tournament directors everywhere would adopt a different strategy than they have now.

In big guarantee tournaments (1000 entries+), one could allow however many re-entries whenever, up until a predetermined level.  Or, in my perfect world, I would love to limit the amount of re-entries per day/per person/per tournament.  However, this type of tournament is what helps fuel all of your other side events, brings more amateurs in to the game, and is a great targeted marketing for people who can’t afford to play the main event of a tournament series.  Depending on the tournament series, there could be 13 events (WSOPC) or 40+ (LAPC/BPO/Choctaw/Isle).  Of course you should always have a balance between unlimited re-entry, limited re-entry, and freeze-out.  I also like what some places (certain HPT stops if I’m not mistaken) do: if you bust flight A, you cannot re-enter that flight, you have to wait until flight B, C, or D.

In non-guaranteed tournaments, limit the re-entries to one.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I like all of the people who re-enter, as it boosts the prize pool, but you run in to problems that are easy to adjust to in a big, multiple starting days, but not so easy in a one or two day tournament.  Also, the people who a re-entering are probably better than your average person.

As someone who doesn’t like to re-enter tournaments (due to mental focus, not money), I do like the idea of playing in freeze-out for at least some of the side events.  I can open my game up a lot more early.  At The Borgata, re-entry ended at most events after 200/400/50, heading into 300/600/75.  Generally there were 20000 starting stacks.  I, generally, was playing at a table that 3-5 players wouldn’t have minded to rebuy.  This really limits the amount of play at the table.  Even thought the blinds are low (400BB to start), you see a lot more 3 and 4 betting (I got a cold 5 bet in-my first ever-at 50/100), and a lot more bets and raises on later streets, bets you wouldn’t see later, trying to extract maximum value from mediocre hands in an effort to build a big stack early.  This bloats pots early on, which detracts the value of playing with 400BB.  Knowing this, I have to limit the hands that I open (and I open wide-a strength) and play, as there is a direct correlation between the average strength of your starting hand and the amount of difficult situations you face.  Obviously, the worse the hand, the harder it is to play.  The goal is to play more hands for smaller pots early; picking up chips and reads, as well as setting a tone which helps define your opponents range and lines much more than yours.  I could go on and on, but I think that you get the idea.  By limiting the re-entry options, people tend to play a bit tighter, raise/re-raise less, tend not to fire thin value bets, and bluff less, a lot less.

In a different, but very important aspect, this tends to make the amateur a lot more comfortable at the table. Ensuring that amateurs have a good table experience is the job of anyone that takes poker semi-seriously, whether as a serious amateur or poker professional.  They are, usually, the dead money that makes these series worthwhile and help feed professional poker players.

As for rake, I really hate paying 10-20% rake every time I enter or re-enter a tournament.  I wish it ended there too, but it doesn’t.  In fine print, there is usually something along the lines of 3% of tournament prize pool is withheld for tournament dealers.  I have no problem paying a portion of the rake, as I am still sitting in the seat, taking up space, but why am I paying full rake, when I already paid full rake once.  So, in a $500+$50 tournament, I now have to invest $1100 total if I re-enter.  As a tournament pro, one might play (between re-entries and different starting days), 50 entries in a tournament series, where they are only playing 20 individual tournaments.  That leaves 30 re-entries, anywhere from $35 to $100 in extra rake, depending on the events.  Even with an average buy in of $550, I’m paying $1500! more in rake, not including the addition to the prize pool and the 3% dealer tip.  That adds up a lot, and could make the difference between being and winner or a loser.  I wish that re-entries were very strictly 5% of the buy in, and you can continue to charge the 3% dealer tip out of the prize pool.  However, I have a sincere doubt that this will ever change, and why would it?  The people who are re-entering are going to re-enter regardless of an extra $25 or so.

I really hope that the tournament staff understands that to most people, firing $365 is a lot of money, and that doing so twice, or more, is just unrealistic in many cases.  I also hope they see how there is a game changing dynamic (that will dissipate by the end of 20 levels) by allowing re-entries into the same flight.  I hope that there is some happy medium, and it is one based on logic and not greed.