Poker tournament proposal to make everyone happy!

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was originally published (1991) in Card Player magazine under the title “A proposal for a new poker tournament that will make everyone happy!”

Last time we talked about opinions. First my Mother of All Opinions was that—contrary, to what you’ve heard — not everybody is entitled to one. That’s because opinions should be based on careful thought and information. Otherwise, opinions are cheap and not worth listening to. Second, I suggested that it was OK to hold rebuy poker events, but you shouldn’t call them tournaments. That’s because a tournament should give everyone an equal chance, which doesn’t happen when you can go broke and buy back in. Or, I should say, a fair chance isn’t afforded when the prize pool is awarded on a percentage basis among the top finishers. There, rebuying has a mathematical advantage.

Anyway, I had considerable comment about my rebuy opinion. Most agree that rebuys tarnish the concept of a tournament. But some added that, nevertheless, they like rebuys.

THE ANSWER. Want another solution? How about two separate prize pools? Think about it. The primary pool is only for those players surviving on their first buy-in. It’s made up of all the money originally put into the tournament. The rebuys all go into a secondary pool which can be won only by those who rebuy. Most important, the trophies and the honor of victory go to the longest surviving player who does not rebuy.

How about a tournament that goes like this … you buy-in for, say, $1,000. You get $1,000 in chips plus two oversized chips. Each of these oversized chips entitles you to one extra buy-in for $1,000 anytime you go broke. Unlike most rebuy tournaments, there is no time limit on when you can rebuy. When you go broke, you get an opportunity to buy again if you have an oversized chip left. Period

The rebuy chips must be nontransferable, and you could even number them in a certain way to ensure that they stay with the player who’s entitled to use them. Alternatively, you might issue rebuy certificates by name upon registration.

PRETEND YOU’RE PLAYING. Imagine yourself in such a tournament. Say it pays the top eight finishers. You nurse your first buy-in along while others around you fall like flies. Suddenly you lose all your chips and you humbly whimper, “I, too, am a fly.” But wait! Suppose that there are now only 10 other players left and none of them has both rebuy chips remaining.

What does that mean? It means everyone else who’s still in the tournament has already bought again. And it means something else, something wonderful. You win! The trophy is yours, and the first place share of the original prize money is yours, too. Those other players are competing for the rebuy pool.

Oh, and one other surprise here. You already won the main part of the tournament, but maybe that rebuy money looks inviting. It’s a side pot you’d like to take a shot at. You are overwhelmed with greed.

WHY NOT WIN IT ALL? Well, go right ahead my friend. Use your first rebuy, chip and put up $1,000. Now you might win both parts of the tournament. If you go broke heads up and you still have a rebuy chip, buy again if you think your $1,000 stands a chance. It’s up to you.

I admit this proposal still doesn’t make rebuy tournaments perfectly fair, but it makes them reasonably fair. And the fairest method of all is to have all rebuys go into a single pot—winner take all. That way—since there are no proportional prizes for finishing first, second, third, etc. – there is no real mathematical advantage or disadvantage to using your second rebuy chip. Again, it’s up to you, and it’s fair.

Think about this tournament concept and let me know what you think. — MC

Published by

Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


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