Tournament structures

One thing that really affects the ability to enjoy playing here is the structure of tournaments.

The blind structure is such that in many of the tournaments if you play fairly tight, you cannot afford to lose more than one or two pots without ending up where you can only play shove or nothing. Recently I have played in several 1 million chips tournaments and they have seemed incredibly inhibited, with no one wanting to take risks.

Tonight I played in a cheapo Bankroll Builder tournament, and it was a revelation. After the first hour there were still many stacks with 30-50 big blinds and the opportunity to play some real poker, whereas most of the tournaments quickly reach the shove-or-fold stage once the blinds start to escalate.

I did not win, although I made the money, because with a stack of over 100,000 chips I shoved on the flop with two pairs of queens and tens, and was called by TWO larger stacks, one of which hit a flush on the river. Disappointing, but a lot of fun, and the top prize was only 46,000 chips, so not a lot on inhibition after the bubble.


100% agreed that blinds jump up way too fast, resulting in the entire field having very short stacks. It’s not uncommon for final tables of Replay MTTs to have a chip leader with 25BB or less. Compare this year’s WSOP main event, where the shortest stack at the start of the final table has 20BB, and three players have over 60BB.

This has been discussed before (see here for an example: Longer Blind Levels for Very High Stakes MTTs). It seems like there has been general support for adding blinds levels and/or starting deeper at least for some MTTs. Add my voice to the chorus of those who agree.


The larger live tournaments are gravitating towards deeper structures because of the televised coverage. People want to see poker being played, not just push/fold. The organizers have altered the structures to make sure the final table is sufficiently deep stacked to give a good show. It is now typical to see the short stack having 20+BB and the big stack having over 100BB, with the average around 50BB. Plenty of play left at these depths. The players seem to love the change.

On Replay, I think there are 2 main issues that contribute to the shallowness of stacks by the final table. The 1st is that the blind structures are very fast, both in duration and in escalation. The 2nd is that there are not enough runners in any given tournament for chip accumulation to outpace the blind increases for enough people. From what I can see, most tournaments over 50K have under 60 runners, with the 1M MTT’s getting less than 20. There are simply not enough chips to be won to keep ahead of the rapidly increasing blinds to result in a lot of play late. If you look at some of the 15K regionals, they have better playability deeper in the games because they attract 125+ runners.

I don’t know if the structure contributes to the uber-tight passive play at the beginnings of the games or not. That’s something to think about. At first glance, I’d think the format would dictate the exact opposite strategy but maybe I’m wrong? It happens once or twice a year :slight_smile:


My thoughts… I agree there are very few good deep structures on Replay. Without going to find them, I don’t know them off the top of my head, I know of at least a couple of C15K buy ins with 5K starting stacks. The first 6 levels go up 10/20 15/30 20/40 30/60 50/100 75/150(maybe 100/200) these are very good. I’ve played in one bust the staff ever where the buy in is very low and the structure was pretty good. This was partly due to the huge (for Replay) 400+ field though. There are a couple higher stakes ones as well. The best structures on Replay are usually dictated by the length of the levels because the fields are so small it’s difficult for the starting stacks to have much of a factor.

Now all that being said the issue of short stack final tables is partly on the players. The community (this goes for live for $’s as well) has become so risk averse that they’re passing up on +EV plays to “wait for better spots.” It’s ironic though that it’s the recreational players that want these deeper structures so they get more bang for their buck even though these structures put them at a much greater disadvantage. I know a lot of the better pros would like to get back to quicker structures because the deeper multi day tournaments greatly affects their abilities to have good roi’s. This is because of the amount of hours that have to be invested. For example, playing a $400 tournament that takes 2 days and up to 15-20 hours to get ITM at a min cash for $900 is not ideal at all. This would only return an hourly of $25-$33. Since most cashes are in the min range and winning player are only cashing around 15% of the time you should be able to see where the investment of this much time can become very cumbersome. There is a lot more that could be discussed on this subject but I’m going to leave at this for now and jump in if it gets any deeper (pun definitely intended) :slight_smile:

                              Cheers everyone!

Yes, both these points are true. You play pretty well and win enough chips to double your starting stack in an hour plus paying for all those blinds, and still find yourself crippled if you enter any pot and fail to win it.

I played a little Bounty Hunter tournament today which was enjoyable. I finished 3rd out of 101 players, and it was a lot of fun with all the players on the final table of 9 having more than 10 BB, but of course the prize money was peanuts.

With 101 players starting with 5000 chips, you have half a million chips to share around the final table, giving an average stack of over 45000, so with BBs at 1500, there is plenty of leeway.

As usual I finally went out with two pairs on the flop and I was outdrawn on the river by a pocket pair.