Debate Over Tournament Format Cloud Beginning of WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic Championship Event



One of the most prestigious tournaments on the World Poker Tour calendar, the Five Diamond World Poker Classic Championship Event, is set to begin on Tuesday. But that start will have a cloud over it as players – from the elite professionals to the Everyday Joe – have made their displeasure known regarding the format of the tournament.

The $10,000 buy in tournament is already one of the biggest by price on the WPT Season XVI schedule. The reentry rules that the tournament is being conducted under are also quite lax, allowing players to re-enter the tournament up until Level 9 of the tournament. This would allow players to get back into the event – with a 30,000 chip stack and at a point where such a stack is still quite workable – at nearly the end of DAY TWO.

Naturally, these liberal unlimited reentry event rules seem to have irritated many in the poker community. First up was noted cantankerous pro Allen Kessler, who at least had democracy to prove his point for him. Out of 623 people who voted on a poll Kessler posted on Twitter, 50% of the respondents wanted the traditional freezeout format for the WPT Five Diamond. There wasn’t a huge uprising against a re-entry, but it was resoundingly a solo re-entry (39%), while the unlimited re-entry option received 11% of the voting public.

While the public vote on Kessler’s Twitter page was dominated by the freezeout vote, there were some pros who took Kessler to task in advocating for the freezeout over the unlimited option. Matthew Waxman criticized Kessler in Tweeting, “You play plenty of re-entries that are within your financial comfort zone. You complain about this one because it’s not. If I were an elitist, I would just ignore you. You are being hypocritical and I’m just trying to show you that.

David ‘ODB’ Baker took another tack in answering Kessler’s question. “Poker tourneys can be like golf courses. Some set up better for some than others. Sit this one out if you don’t like it. I don’t like it I’m sitting it out,” Baker stated over Twitter to Kessler. Dominik Nitsche added in his two cents on Twitter, chirping, “I actually do agree with you in general that single reentry (or freezeout) is better. Just think it’s too late for this one (to be changed).”

It is one of the debates that has raged across poker for the last few years. Originally, the tournaments were called “rebuy” tournaments in the mid-2000s and those tournaments were routinely dominated by those whose deep pockets weren’t impacted. In the 2006 World Series of Poker $1000 No Limit Hold’em event with rebuys, Daniel Negreanu reportedly made 46 rebuys during the tournament. Along with the two add-ons he could take, “Kid Poker” spewed $48,000 in tournament buy-ins; in 2007, the WSOP banned the “rebuy” events.

But all that has happened to the old “rebuy” event is they have been rebranded as today’s “re-entry” events. Offering multiple Day Ones and/or allowing for a re-entry/late entry period that stretches deep into the opening action of the tournament, players can still get that “rebuy” feeling in the renamed events. In some WPT tournaments, it is possible for a player to take advantage of every Day One and a solo rebuy (some even allow players to enter on Day 2) and spend upwards of $25,000 should they strike out in every attempt.

Some players dislike the re-entry tournaments because it does give a professional player with craploads of money a chance to play recklessly, offering no recompense for bad play other than having to enter again, and build substantial stacks (some would say elimination would be an apt punishment for those types of pros). Other players talk about how it pushes out the recreational player, who has but one shot in a tournament and has to potentially run through someone more than twice if they are to even cash. Those that are for the re-entry tournaments point out how it can build a prize pool to levels higher than it would should the tournament be a freezeout event.

While Kessler’s poll and the results have received some notice, don’t expect a change anytime soon in the re-entry phenomenon. The casinos enjoy it because the extra juice goes into their pockets and the tours themselves like it to build big prize pools and award big payouts. The only way for the players to vote further on this issue would be to use their wallets and not play the tournaments.

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