It is arguable that the tournament poker scene has never been more popular than today. The World Series of Poker Championship Event reached numbers that haven’t been seen since the mid-Aughts, it seems that stops on the World Poker Tour are consistently breaking previous records and even lower scale events (daily tournaments) seem to be drawing in more players. With this said, there’s still plenty of discussion about how to improve the product.

Ideas Born of Discussion Between Matt Affleck, Daniel Negreanu and Others

It seems the genesis of these discussions came from some thoughts from poker professional Matt Affleck. Observing that upcoming events during a December series at the Wynn will feature antes from the very start of their tournaments, Affleck wondered when “all tournaments will start with an ante?” That question brought many out with their ideas, including Daniel Negreanu.

Negreanu piped up in agreement with Affleck:

This did bring out those who said they didn’t like the antes, whether it was the old style “each player donates ante each hand” or the new Big Blind Ante format. Negreanu accurately pointed out that, without the antes, the action would be “incredibly boring” as players would be playing tighter instead of mixing it up.

The discussion was a lively one and it also got us to thinking here at Poker News Daily. What changes could be made to tournament poker to make it even better than it is right now? Even if there is that old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” we came up with four things that, if implemented, would improve on the game we all love.

Five Ways to Make Tournament Poker Better

First, we have to be honest. Players LOVE late registration for an event. Whether it is because they like to sleep in, it gives them a chance to watch some of the action and formulate an approach or they’re just running behind getting to the poker room, late registration is something that people like. Some of the discussion was for eliminating this act, but we’ve got another suggestion: reduce the stacks depending on when you enter.

Each level that goes by through late registration, your stack goes down by 5%. If you start an event with 50K, that means you lose 2500 chips if you buy in after Level 1, another 2500 after Level 2, etc., all the way through to the end of late registration. Most tournaments let it run for at least eight levels, so that would be a loss of 20K in chips if you entered just before late registration ended. This would encourage players to be there from the start of the event, lest they go in with less ammunition for battle.

If you don’t do this, then the other option is put the chips on the felt and let the stacks be blinded down from the beginning of the event. You want to buy in late? Then you buy in and take the chance that the players at the table where your stack is located haven’t been playing at a rapid pace and the BBA and blinds have really eaten into your stack.

Another way to make tournament poker better is reduce the starting chips. While there is some credence in the “deep play” idea, it’s also a fact that casinos want gaudy numbers in the standings to make it look like it is a “significant” tournament. It looks a lot better to say the chip leader has 10 million chips rather than one or two million. Instead of starting with 50K in chips for a $10K event, why not go back to the way it was – dollar for chip, 10K in tournament chips for $10K? The extra chips are done just as much to make it look “important” at the final table as it is to give the opportunity for deep stack play (and, if you want deep play, just adjust the blind structures – seems that worked for decades before the 21st century!).

Next, if you want to increase the action, limit tables to eight players max. The button would go around the table quicker, it would create more action and players would, once again, be encouraged to show up sooner lest they miss out on the chance to pick up chips with the shorter table.

Finally, sure…let’s put the ante in from the start. The only problem here is that you would have to wait to start tables until you have a full complement of players because it wouldn’t be fair. Why should one table have to play short when others have a full table? That may be another punishment for the late registration, however.

Let’s be honest, though…tournament poker is far from a damaged product. But there’s always room for improvement, especially if you want to capture younger players who are more action driven than those that came before them. What would be your suggestions for changes you’d like to see in tournament poker?


  1. Candyce Samples says:

    While the idea of starting the tournament with an ante isn’t bad, the rest of it is pretty bad ideas… have no idea how many people will late reg so just arbitrarily blinding off stacks that may never be bought seems not a good idea and punishing the guy who just busted out and re-entered by reducing his starting stack doesn’t seem fair……then change every table to 8 handed is awful for the dealers, they are already making less money than they use to now there are more dealers per event with more downs being split up……that’s just not right

  2. Hercules hurtado says:

    For us if you don’t get there early your blinded off, but when you rebuy you get a full stack

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