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Why Poker Tournaments Aren't Great for Everybody (A Personal Experience)

There is a reason behind why I don’t play a lot of poker tournaments or join huge poker events. I am actually quite proud of my overall tournament performance, starting with the two wins from the very first events I played back in the 70s. I have won, almost won, and gone through every other disappointment and thrill that comes with formal tournaments. I have organized and hosted tournaments of my own, one of which was a huge one. I have even established pay structures and rules. Therefore, I have nothing against poker tournaments as a road to profit or a means to entertainment. They may be great for a lot of people, but they simply aren’t for me.

Last-Longer Bets

These refer to friendly bets that are made with various entrants. Whoever loses the tournament first has to pay.  Whoever lasts the longest will collect. Such bets could bring conflicts of interest up within tournaments; that’s why I have different mixed feelings on whether this should actually be allowed. The players that play with last-longer bets sometimes sit out at hands they would normally have played. This seems to happen whenever opponents are running low on chips and think they might get eliminated in the next played hand. Because of this, last-longer bets completely change how actions go within tournaments.

Still, this has become part of the atmosphere of a tournament and is nowadays accepted as a part of the games. It might be best to let traditional practices go on, provided most players are alright with them, but it would still be nice to see several tournaments come up with rules that forbid every type of side bet or deal to see if this would have a huge impact on overall attendance.

The Winner’s Sacrifice

I have advocated one rule that every bet and deal made within tournaments need to be registered with the tournament director and these pieces of information needs to be general knowledge to every participant. Such a policy would help greatly when it comes to game policing and integrity maintenance of these tournaments.
Personally, I refuse to make last-longer bets, no matter what the cost, because I have come to realize that I should only make them if my overall goal would be to last longer in the game. The person who finishes first tends to win all of the chips. It would be great if you won, but then it turns into a sad event. Within tournaments of proportional payout, winners receive around 40% of the overall prize pool, while second place receives 25% and third place receives 15%.

 The Winner’s Sorrow

The sad thing is that you will need to give back the majority of your rightful winnings to players that you already won against and who lost all of their chips to you. They had no chips, yet they still get paid… with your winnings. Is this fair?

This would mean that you actually got a penalty after winning the overall championship. This would also mean that not winning still reaps rewards that the actual winner has to pay off. Strategically, this would also mean that it would be worthwhile to give up several plays that would normally make money within normal poker games to survive in the tournament. Specifically, you need to be much more selective when it comes to the hands that you enter pots with and you need to oftentimes opt to call instead of raise.

If your overall object in playing such tournaments is to get profit, then you should stay away from winning because the first place winners get the most in penalties. Naturally, winning first place would be great since it is much better than coming in second. However, coming out as first place should never be your ultimate goal if you wish to make more money.

I believe that the ultimate goal of poker tournaments should be winning the championships and taking home the trophies. People shouldn’t need to make decisions on whether to play for glory or for money. It should be for both. Winners should take all. However, this doesn’t seem to be a popular option in the world of poker anymore.

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