I once went on Twitter and congratulated Alex Foxen for winning the $10k buy-in WPT Bellagio Five Diamond Championship. In addition to winning his first ever WPT event, that win enabled him to repeat as the 2019 GPI Player of the Year. Congrats Alex! That is truly incredible!

Then some came on Twitter saying he was in for five bullets and therefore, that tarnished his win. I responded by saying the format Bellagio had for this event was unlimited re-entries until the middle of Day 2 and you can’t blame a player for the format and playing by the rules. If you don’t like the format, it’s your choice not to play. (I also said that even if someone was given 20 bullets in this event that they would still be at least 50-1 to win as there were about 400 players left after the re-buy period ended.)

Obviously, the purest and most equal form of tournament poker is a freeze-out (one bullet) where all the players are there when the event starts. Not many of those exist any more because many players don’t want to travel to an event to play a tournament where they could be out in 15 minutes. The question is – do you lose players from these $10k buy-ins by allowing only one bullet or do you gain more entries by people playing who say they wouldn’t enter an unlimited re-entry tournament?

There’s a saying in the poker world – “The tournament doesn’t start til the re-buy period is over.” Unlimited re-entries in tournaments is a hot topic of discussion as we know it favours the pros and deep pockets. It also creates larger prize pools and makes it tougher for recreational players to win, to say nothing about how it affects POY standings.

The question is, “What’s the best compromise/solution?” My vote is to allow one re-entry per tournament.

But, do we even need for there to be a solution? What’s wrong with a variety of events – some being a single bullet, with others being single or multiple re-entries? Let casinos host any tournament with any format they like. Players have a choice to go play a tournament or not.

This discussion proved to be a pretty hot topic on Twitter: Greg Mueller (@GregFBT) stated (correctly), “Unlimited re-entries allows people with unlimited funds to play a style to gain a huge advantage early without suffering the consequences of being eliminated from the competition! Make it about poker and not deep pockets!”

Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) said, “Make no mistake, if you are a casual player who sees the big prize pool these events create, just know you have almost no shot in hell of getting any of it. Unlimited re-entry GUARANTEES the end game is full of pros.”

I doubt everyone would agree with this. In fact, some recreational players said they were happy when guys were playing bad and steaming their money off and re-entering thus embellishing the prize pool. It’s your choice to play or not if you’re only firing one bullet.

Our own Rob Yong (@rob_yong) summed it up by simply saying, “We know players that can afford to re-buy want it, players that can’t don’t…………” I don’t think anyone would disagree with that.

Let me say this about Rob (the guy who puts up the HUGE guarantees on the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS tour) – he truly wants what is best for players and the long-term ecology of poker – even if it costs him money in the short run. For example, at the partypoker LIVE MILLIONS CPP in November, there was a $10m prize pool guarantee for the $10k buy-in main event, yet the rules stated players could only fire one bullet per day. (There were two starting days & players could also buy in for a couple levels on Day 2).

Rob resisted pressure from the hi-rollers for allowing only one bullet per day. However, by trying to put on as fair an event as possible by not allowing multiple re-buys per day, there were only 948 entries, meaning the guarantee was short by $520k. I’m certain we would have easily made the guarantee had Rob allowed multiple re-entries per day (even one re-entry per day) in this tournament. Hopefully, the players recognize and appreciate this effort by Rob to run as fair a tournament for all as possible.

Multiple re-entries at the WPT Bellagio Five Diamond Main Event seems to work well there and I feel fairly certain that if you polled the players who actually played in the event that the majority would vote to not change the format for this particular tournament (as many players travel long distances to play this tourn and prefer re-entries).

The numbers have grown steadily over the past couple of years for this event and this year’s WPT Five Diamond set an all-time record for a $10k buy-in at Bellagio with 1025 entries. (FYI, there were just over 600 unique entries which means there were over 400 re-buys. This increased the prize pool by over $4m. Obviously, what they’re doing seems to be working well here.)

It’s easy to get on Twitter and criticize the format of tournaments but the casinos that host them have to do what they feel is best for their company. If players support an event and it keeps growing, why would they change anything?

We’ve learned on the MILLIONS tour that players LOVE large prize pool guarantees but it’s really tough to guarantee huge prize pools without having re-entries. If you like huge guarantees, you might need to appreciate/understand a compromise for just one bullet.

For sure, it’s impossible to please everyone – but we’re trying! Thank you for your continued support!

Love to hear your opinion/suggestions regarding re-entries, especially from those that play in events where the buy-in range from $1500 to $10k.


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