Full Tilt Poker’s Multi-Entry events definitely need a fix.
Am I the only tournament poker player that doesn’t seem to think that Multi-Entry tournaments are a good thing? I’ve played in a bunch of them before, and I’ve had a bunch of cashes in them. But as we’re now in the midst of the Full Tilt Poker Double Guarantee’s week, where every tournament on FTP that has a guarantee is now a Multi-Entry event, I am left wondering if this is ultimately a “good thing” for the game of poker. Yes, the Multi Entry events result in gigantic prize pools because of humongous field sizes where players are entering into the same tournament multiple times. They’re basically like generating a prize pool kind of like a rebuy tournament does, except that the additional chips that you’re purchasing are being divided onto other tables as separate stacks and entries into the tournament over multiple tables.
I don’t have a problem with the multi-tabling aspect like so many other players do. I’m very much accustomed to playing multiple tables, and have done as many as 28 in a single session. It’s a lot to manage, and I do time-out from time to time. But for the most part, I can usually keep up the volume fairly well. For me, managing the additional tables in a single Multi-Entry event is the easy part, but there is a big reason that they have never really set all that well with me. The main reason is the way that the “Merged Stacks” take place at the end of the tournament, and the giant disparity it creates in your capacity for earning in a single tournament.
I’m with Full Tilt on the argument that you can’t PLAY two stacks on the same table. Seeing two sets of hole cards would give a huge advantage to that player that just isn’t fair to anyone else in the tournament. In fact, that’s just cheating…and flat out wrong. However, you should be able to lock a stack into place and have it be blinded down, as opposed to being immediately eliminated. Stay with me here as I’ll get back to this idea at the end of this article.
Last night, Mike Sowers won the Full Tilt Poker $1k Monday, which as a result of having multiple entries, drew a field of 2,404 players, and exceeded the $2 million guarantee (the final tally was a prize pool of $2,404,000). Sowers (who plays on Full Tilt as “SowersUNCC”) also had another entry that made the final table, and when that happened, it was eliminated in 9th place, with those chips being merged into 1 stack. That’s just how it works. Full Tilt explains this in their question and answer section on Multi-Entry events where they say:
“Say you have two entries remaining on two tables in a nine-handed tournament that pays the top 18 finishers. The final table is reached and your two entries are merged. The merged entry will be considered to have finished in ninth place for that tournament and receive the payout amount for that position.”
Sowers used the bonus chips from his merged stack to go onto to win the top prize of $490,295.80 in addition to the $28,848 for finishing in 9th place. So Sowers won a total of $519,143.80 off of the 6 entries that he purchased of $1,000+60 each, a combined profit of $512,783.80 for the day….not so bad for a day’s work.
However, I can’t help but imagine what would have been had Sowers not had his other final table finish automatically eliminated in 9th place without playing a hand at the final table, and instead had his shorter stack locked. In this scenario, I envision something happens where he couldn’t view the hole cards of the “Locked Stack”, and then the locked stack began to be blinded down, forcing a fold at every hand until it was eliminated from the tournament. This could have resulted in several other players being eliminated prior to the locked stack going out, and subsequently increasing his prize money as a result.
The truth is there is a HUGE disparity in the payout structures between a 9th place finish and a top 3 finish. Consider the payouts of the final 9 in last night’s $1k Monday on Full Tilt Poker:
1. Mike “SowersUNCC” Sowers ($490,296)
2. KagM7F7 ($317,328)
3. Chris “MoormanI” Moorman ($235,592)
4. Alex “Kadabra” Keating ($177,896)
5. Mike “YrrsiN” Huber ($125,008)
6. Benjamin “Bttech86” Tollerene ($81,736)
7. Chris “Big Huni” Hunichen ($55,292)
8. Mickey “Mement_mori” Petersen ($38,464)
9. Mike “SowersUNCC” Sowers ($28,848)
The 28 buyins for finishing in 9th is nice, but $28k isn’t exactly life changing money like $177k or $490k is. What this means is that it’s actually everyone else in the tournament that benefits financially from the merged stacks. Yes Sowers was able to get a boost at the final table that will likely take him to a deeper finish in the tournament, but the news of the Sowers elimination in 9th was best probably best received by Mickey Petersen, who got an additional $10k in prize money by simply making the final table when there was a elimination without a hand being played!
I wonder if Full Tilt would ever consider making one of the stacks a “dead stack” or a “locked stack” instead of eliminating it from the tournament. I’ve been at PLENTY of final tables where the average stack size was just 20 big blinds, and when you’re that short, eliminations happen quickly. Let’s say for a moment that Sowers had this situation last night with just 10 players left, and with the average stack at 20 BB’s, and he controlled the top 2 stacks in the tournament. Sowers should have the OPTION of either 1) Merging the stacks and eliminating one stack immediately and accepting 9th place money for that elimination, or 2) Having 1 stack be a dead stack for the remainder of the final table until it’s blinded out.
This way, he wouldn’t have to settle for 9th place money by force unless he elected to do so, and honestly, I don’t see why he would either. It would make complete sense to have the “blind out” take place as opposed to have the bonus chips in one stack caused by merging stacks. But if he had two short stacks, the double up bonus would likely be the optimal move. Either way, players should have the choice, and not be forced to settle for less money considering the way that they played in order to get to the final table.
The key is, you miss out on such a huge chance to have a big, life changing score when one of your stacks is eliminated automatically. For anyone who has ever made it to a final table, and then been bad beat out of a chance at a huge score, you’ll feel my pain here. I’ve finished in 7th and 8th place in recent MTT’s, and they suck. To get so close to that giant score and then lose a 75/25 and a 70/30 spot for what would be bankroll changing figures is just absurd. But to be drawing dead going into the final table without getting a chance to play a hand is beyond explanation. This situation is only compounded the further away from the final table that you get as the money gets less and less the further away from 1st place you get. Consider if Sowers had found a way to get all 6 of his entries down to 45 players remaining. He’d be settling for 45th place money (typically only 4-5 buy ins as a prize), then 36th place money (typically 5-6 buy ins) and on and on. It’s a HUGE difference in payouts.
I think that Full Tilt Poker should have flatter payout structures on their tournaments anyway, but even MORE so in Multi-Entry Events. What do you think about merged stacks and Multi Entry events? I didn’t even hit on how I think that they dry up all the dead money quicker…which I’ll tackle in another post. But do you think that the Multi-Entry’s are ultimately good or bad for the game of poker?