25/09/2012

Deep Stack Poker Events - the Beauty and the Beast

Christian Zetzsche

The debate "quality versus quantity" has always been a part of the highly competitive human nature and the principle is no different for (online) poker either. Finding the right balance between providing adequate circumstances to attract as many players as possible and still make money with it is a challenge in itself for poker sites and casinos. This obviously triggers different approaches to cater to the target audience and one of the more and more popular formats especially for the players to showcase their skills at the tables is the deep stack event.

Even though Sin City might sooner or later lose the spot of being poker destination number one with the recent high stakes action in Macau, Las Vegas is still the Poker Mecca with the biggest live tournament at the moment. However, all events at the World Series Of Poker just have three times the Buy-In as starting stack and thus only the Player Championship and the $10,000 Main Event qualify as "true" Deepstack tournament and unless qualified through a by far cheaper Satellite doesn't necessarily attract recreational players.

Both the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour have been around for years and offer players the opportunity to win their entry through various Satellites. The Main Events typically provide a starting stack of 30,000 Chips and Blind levels that last 60 minutes, for the EPT the structure has even been improved further as of Season 9 based upon player feedback and now feature levels of 75 minutes from Level 1 to Level 14 and 90 minutes thereafter. This welcoming change is just one of the reasons why the international tournament series has been as successful, yet no player has been able to win two Main Events so far in the history of the European Poker Tour.

But also recreational players get their fair share of the Deepstack experience for a rather moderate Buy-In. The Deepstack Extravaganza Series at Las Vegas introduces many tourists to the card game we all love and hate so much depending on the River card and other tournaments such as the Deep Stack Open with a Buy-In of 550€ and 50,000 Chips as well as the MegaPokerSeries with 770€ and 77,000 Chips for the Main Event symbolize the new up and coming Poker Festivals.

On the one hand, the hosts want to make sure that the event is as convenient as possible for its participants to build a loyal player base, but they also need to make sure to earn money in order to keep the event running. You cannot add infinite Chips to the starting stack, as that would drag the event over too many days, yet it should also be no super turbo Freezeout where you are in push or fold mode after a few levels. Skill should remain the dominating factor when determining a winner, otherwise most serious contenders will soon lose the interest.

Of course more Chips also tempt to make more moves, but you obviously spend by far more time at the table in the very same tournament and the casino mainly makes money through the one time (unless it is a Re-Entry event) fee when you register for the tournament as well as food and drinks. Some even go as far to offer dinner vouchers and free soft drinks, which obviously helps to make for a pleasant overall atmosphere. In return, the casinos also get more action and earn more rake at the cash game tables the more people bust and benefit from the viral marketing in the long run if everything runs smooth.

The perfect Poker Festival that combines a decent structure with various tournaments for every pocket may not necessarily exist yet, but the quality in general has improved a lot in the last few years and the players have by far more events to pick from and make up their mind. Despite the decreasing online traffic, the demand for live poker is on the rise and you barely see any week on the calendar without any major event and a juicy prize pool.