Are re-entries and late registrations hurting the poker economy?

There once a time when poker tournaments involved one buy-in, one stack and one shot. In the simpler days of a freezeout you’d only ever see a player bust once.

But these days, professionals can fire bullet after bullet until they finally build a big stack they can go to war with. Meanwhile recreational players find the player pool stays concentrated with sharks, and if they lose their stack, they may not be able to afford another try.

With bulletproof sharks buying back in whenever they bust, would it even be worth their while to re-enter anyway?


Kessler, Negreanu and Shak call for less re-entries

The idea of less re-entries has been raised before, but this week, some big names threw their weight behind it on Twitter, with Allen Kessler posting about the issue a few days ago. His views were supported by Daniel Negreanu and Dan Shak, but Tournament Director Sean McCormack was quick to point out that entry numbers in tournaments with re-entry had grown (as you might expect) and that this represented growth and success.

Among the chief concerns about re-entries and increased late registration is that pros can basically buy a big stack through re-entries then reap the benefits of using that stack as a weapon later.

Also, fields become swamped with professionals because once they bust, they bounce straight back into another different seat. The field becomes saturated with top players, which gives the recreational players less chance of making meaningful progress. This can be damaging for the poker economy and lead to the devaluation of trophies and titles such as Player of the Year.

Not as simple as it seems

One of the reasons opinions are split when it comes to re-entries is that many recreationals are less aware of the increased number of pros in the latter stages but keenly aware of the bigger prize pool that comes with re-entries. This can be attractive to all players, not to mention those who organise the tournaments, as more entries equals more rake.

Much has been made of pros re-entering many times, but it should also be pointed out that often, recreational players will want to fire a second bullet too. This creates a situation where many pros are happy with re-entries, some recreationals are, and the organisers certainly are.

APT Tournament Director Lloyd Fontillas shared his view on the question with Somuchpoker: 

“Being an international tour that attracts traveling players re entry is a must for us. We hear it all the time

“I travelled all this way, got cold decked, and I want to play another event”

and this is coming from recreational players.”

Incentives for casinos to keep pushing poker

With the boom years now having firmly faded, offering poker events is becoming gradually less appealing for casinos. Re-entries help bolster prize pools which makes tournaments more economically viable, and keep casinos interested in hosting them.

More importantly, all events organisers are competing with each other to offer the biggest guarantees. These are usually the biggest selling points to attract players, including recreational ones.

Llyod Fontillas APT Tournament Director confirmed:

” I know of many events in the USA that keep registration open past less than 20BBs. With the need to compete by offering larger guarantees, guarantees can’t be met without the re entry as well”. 

Blind structure: The most important?

Like all issues, the truth is to be found somewhere in between the two opposing schools of thought.

Blind increases and structure speeds can play a big part in the impact re-entries have on any event, with faster paced tournaments forcing more re-entries for players who want to play optimally. Players who do not have the funds for multiple rebuys are placing themselves at a disadvantage in events like these.

Tournaments with slower structures encourage careful, more considered play. This means that optimal play will not require big risks early on, and this means that many players will not have to re-enter but will still have the option to do so if they get unlucky.

These tournaments are a much fairer way of applying the option for re-entry in tournament play as players are not priced out of playing the right way. This gives recreational players the chance to compete with pros on a level playing field.

Article by Craig Bradshaw