In my local game there used to be a player called Dai ’16 Rebuys’ Peters. He earned his nickname playing in the annual Christmas £10 rebuy competition several years ago. Most players would stick a few tenners into the pot, but £160 was unheard of.
As each £10 left his pocket, his pre-flop shoving range widened. As the levels passed he was moving all-in with any two cards. He couldn’t win a single flip. I can still remember the pain and the anguish etched on that face. The day that Dai Peters walked into the pub to play a £10 rebuy and spent £160 was priceless.
On Tuesday night I returned to my local game after a few years in the wilderness. Some things had changed. Some things had not. The evening started with a £10 rebuy, and ended with a Dealers Choice cash game. The first hand was dealt and my mate Terry moved all-in blind. In the ensuing four hands there were seven all-ins. This continued until after the rebuy period ended. Terry had spend £100. He needed to finish in the top two places in order to make a profit.
Back in the day we used to play a £10 Freezeout. We would easily fill three tables. These days we are lucky to get a table of nine. People can’t afford to play in a £10 rebuy. The ’16 Rebuys’ style of play has made the game -EV for them. They don’t have the money anymore.
In the past 18 months I have noticed the ’16 Rebuys’ effect creep into the higher levels of the game. Dai Peters will agree with me when I say he was an idiot that night. There was no logical sense behind his decisions. He would have kept moving all-in until he made a loss had he won the event. Logic is often overrun when gambling is involved.
The new re-entry format is turning professional poker players into Dai Peters. When the rules dictated one re-entry per tournament order seemed to be maintained. But lately, the gate has been left open, and the farm animals have been allowed to go crazy. They are uncontrollable.
In the recent World Poker Tour (WPT) UK Festival there was a £3,000 buy-in Main Event. The rules stipulated that you could buy-in up to four times. I know a player who bought in four times. That’s £12,000, or a ‘lot of bloody money’ where most of us come from.
That £12,000 buy-in is not the only cost. There was the cost of traveling to/from the venue, hotel costs, eating costs, the costs of satellites, and other ancillary gambling activities that went on in and around getting knocked out of the event.
The field contained 354 entrants, and it was a tough field. This wasn’t France or Italy. This was the UK, and all of the big boys and girls had come out to play. With an outlay that big you would have had to finish in the top 12 places to barely make a profit. If the gambling outside of the re-entries had gone a bit haywire, you are looking at ninth place.
There are few players in the world, if any, who have the talent to be able to do this consistently, and survive, in the modern game. The variance alone will eat you up like an anaconda chowing down on an idiotic naturalist. This is what I mean when I say the professionalism is slipping. Players are piling the grease onto a very steep slope.
I vaguely remember Daniel Negreanu doing something similar in one of the big Aussie Millions High Rollers a few years ago. He managed to get out of it by going deep, and gave his reasons why he believed his decisions were +EV. I don’t think these people have the kind of money that Negreanu has. I don’t think they honestly believe what they are doing is +EV. Anyone who thinks so is telling porky pies.
As a gambling addict, I have some empathy with the players’ plight. I believe most players come equipped to re-enter perhaps once. You can do the math on what the additional buy-in means for an average professional. Then they get caught in this funk. A combination of circumstances that always ends up with hands digging deep into pockets.
The first problem they have is they are there. They have turned up to play, they are miles away from home, and the event still wants to cuddle them into its bosom. Then you have ego. A lot of poker players have egos the size of Huck Seed’s feet. They can’t be seen walking away from a re-entry event when the opportunity to re-enter still exists. This is manliness stuff. The type of idiotic behavior that makes people drink alcohol and smoke fags when they were kids.
Finally, all poker players are gamblers. They may talk a good talk when it comes to bankroll management, expected value, and all the other bollocks that gets spouting off, but deep down they like a punt. Walking away from a re-entry event when bullets still remain in the chamber is akin to trying to drag Michael Douglas away from a lot of wide open legs beside a notice saying: ‘Please preen the bushes.’
They are doomed before they even left the house.
So what are the consequences?
I think we are going to start losing a lot of our regular players. We don’t see Dai ’16 Rebuys’ Peters in our local game anymore, and soon you will see more and more professional live grinders staying at home. They will run out of money, just like Dai did.
Put your hand up if you have heard the one about the games getting tougher and tougher? Now multiply the number of buy-ins exponentially to take into consideration the increased re-entries, and what do you get?
Increased expense + reduced likelihood of winning = find another job.