In a short space of time, re-entry events have gone from an experimental format, to almost being the norm. When they first hit the tournament circuit I was somewhat sceptical and thought they were an attempt to just get more entry fees. However it quickly became apparent that there are so many advantages to re-entry events, whether you are a player or an organiser.
We have seen so many benefits to re-entry tournaments at D4 Events that all of our main events are now re-entries. The upcoming European Shorthanded Poker Championships in September is a six max re-entry event, as is the European Deepstack Poker Championships in February 2013.
The obvious advantage is how much they increase the prize pools. We debuted a re-entry main event in the European Short-Handed Poker Championship is Sept 2011. This tournament is made up of a lot of online & live qualifiers, but despite this we saw 25% of the players who were eliminated on Day 1A re-enter on Day 1B. This February, the European Deepstack Poker Championship saw a massive 70% of Day 1A eliminations re-enter.
Not only that, they essentially reduce the travel expenses that come with playing the live circuit. There is nothing worse than busting early in a tournament, and with re-entries you effectively reduce your travel expenses by being able to play the next main event the following day at the same venue. Most of our players in both of the events above travel to Dublin from mainland Europe, and obviously we want them to be able to enjoy the entire weekend, and the re-entry format is one of the things that helped them do that.
In fact, of all the positive comments I get from players, the travel aspect is the strongest one. They want to be able to make a weekend of an event, not be forced to seek entertainment elsewhere after the first day. This is great news for the casino too, as well as the poker economy in general. Freezeouts and rebuys often see a mass exodus of players after day 1, but re-entries keep them at the casino for additional starting days.
Although there was some initial scepticism from the players, mainly around concerns that a re-entry gives an unfair advantage to those with deep pockets, almost all the feedback we have received has been positive, and the fears of re-entries giving certain players advantages are unfounded.
This is because unlike a rebuy, a re-entry is effectively new tournament for the player buying back in. Anyone eliminated from the table has to leave it, so you are unlikely to bump into a player you eliminated unless both of you get deep. So if you want to treat it like a traditional freezeout you can, but if you want a second shot at the main event, you have that option too.
Another difference is the way it affects the prize pool distribution. The number of players in a rebuy is static, which means that min-cash amounts are generally higher than in a freezeout. But in a re-entry when someone buys in again, it is treated like a new entrant, and as such increases the amount of people making the money, rather than the min-cash amount.
Re-entry events may not necessarily become the norm in major events like the WPT and WSOP, but I would suggest that they absolutely should in the lower to mid-stakes events. These are the events where large fields are required to keep the card rooms in business and give the players a meaningful score, and they are also the levels where travel expenses can really eat away at a bankroll.
Mike Lacey is the director of D4 Events. Their next event, the European Shorthanded Poker Championships, features a six max €550 re-entry main event. It takes place at the Regency Hotel in Dublin between September 26-30. Check out www.euroshorthandedpoker.com for more details.