To MET or not to MET….

  • Written by 707 Comments
    Last Updated: November 9, 2012

    After 16 months of uncertainty Full Tilt has reopened its doors. Aside from the obvious benefits of millions of dollars being restored to players’ accounts and online poker clawing back a little credibility, we can now also look forward to those fantastic games Full Tilt were famous for: Multi entry tournaments and Rush poker for all!

    You may have detected a hint of sarcasm in the latter part of that paragraph, and whilst it was certainly intended to be taken as such, I could also have said the same words in a different context with much sincerity. I believe Multi Entry Tournaments are awful for poker both short term and long term, but there are short term indirect benefits of Full Tilt running them.

    Before I get on to the benefits, I’d like to reiterate my disdain for them and the reasons behind my feelings. If Full Tilt can disappear for 16 months and reappear, I feel I am justified to repeat my 2011 misgivings too.

    There are many great things about poker tournaments, but for an amateur perhaps the best thing is being able to parlay a small amount of money into an amount that is potentially life changing. No example is more famous than Chris Moneymaker’s route to being WSOP Main Event Champion in 2003.(Chris Moneymaker won a $39 Satellite on Pokerstars to the World Series Main Event in 2003, which he then went on to win for $2.5m.)
    For professionals, the vast amount of value in any large buy in tournament comes from the amateurs who have qualified. Sure some amateurs buy in and are relative dead money, but it’s the qualifiers who make up most of the soft spots. Of course some pros are better than others, but realistically how much better? You have to remember there’s a rake of 7-10% on each tournament, this fact is often overlooked and if this number equals your edge over the average pro, it could effectively mean you have no edge over pros.

    The $200k guaranteed this Sunday is allowing three entries. If all the pros who enter the tournament were to buy in three times it would obviously alter the “fish to shark” ratio considerably. Sure some amateurs will also buy in more than once, but this occurrence will be far less likely than a pro buying in multiple times. Running more satellites isn’t necessarily the answer either. There is a finite amount of money available from satellites, this money is ultimately coming from the pay packets of amateurs; so you can’t simply run more satellites as in order to fill them the amateurs would need to deposit more money – money they can’t afford.

    It’s obvious to anyone that these tournaments reduce the edge of almost every pro. Some will argue that the very best pros have an increased edge as they also have a sizeable edge over the average pro. In all likelihood, you’re not one of them.

    Another downside can be illustrated by drawing on an old quote from Mike Caro on the subject of Poker Tournaments in general:

    “You collect money from everybody in the club and give one guy $35,000. Do you know what he does? He goes home and buys a refrigerator. There’s nothing quite as sad as seeing perfectly good poker money used to buy a refrigerator.”

    The advent of MET’s makes this ring even truer. Bigger prizepools, and less chance for amateurs to make any money and reinvest it into the community. On the subject of there being less chance for the amateurs, why do you think they play in the first place? To win. Sure it’ll take them some time to work out they can’t win as regularly as before, but they will. Their hobby will become more expensive, then they may give up.

    I’ve waffled on enough about the huge downsides to these stupid tournaments, I should really get back to my original intended point:

    I will have a larger expected return this Sunday than on average because Professional Poker Players are stupid.

    I’m making no apologies for this wide sweeping statement. They think the same way as amateurs. “Wow, look I can win $100k in that tournament, I’ve got to play it.” Instead of thinking “How much on average am I going to make in that tournament”. Ie what’s your expected roi. I have contradicted myself a little here as the bigger the prizepool the more amateurs are going to be drawn to it making it more worthwhile for the pros, but this goes out of the window with the MET element as outlined somewhat labouriously above. The Stars Sunday Million for example has so much more value than any MET could ever have.

    On Sunday I expect hundreds of pros to be buying in multiple times to Full Tilt’s $200k. In doing so they will be helping me out in one of two ways. Either they will be skipping tournaments elsewhere with smaller prizepools in pursuit of a big payday. Or they will recklessly still register for every other tournament and end up “button clicking” and timing out more than they usually do.

    As you may have gathered I won’t be one of them. RIP Neilblue.