This is not poker...
This post is about/titled: "This is not poker" or alternatively, "Poker players don't need diapers."
So, I recently was at a final table of a MTT tournament in Vegas where I was largest chip stack. The blinds were ***SO RIDICULOUS*** at that point, that everyone else at the table was saying, "This is not poker anymore, it's just an all-in fest".
Everyone else wanted to just chop the cash payout, and I was the only one who was reluctant as I had the chip lead. But even I agreed that this was not poker anymore, plus I didn't want to be the only arse-hole who kept everyone in the game as we stagnated with: "Someone goes all in - everyone folds - rinse - repeat".
So, I was the final one to agree to chop the cash, and while we all walked away with few hundred dollars, we were all thoroughly annoyed with blinds being thumb-pressed to our necks, and we all were pretty much done with poker for the night and we all left the poker room (and the casino as far as I could tell).
Now, keep in mind that I love poker, and while winning money is certainly the goal, I really also enjoy playing real poker where skill is the emphasis rather than coin-flip fests.
Originally, I had planned to:
1. Enter (and hopefully win) the casino's modest buy-in MTT tournament.
2. Throw some money at the cash tables for 4-7 hours for the rest of the night and return over the next few days for more action.
But, I was so annoyed at the blindf$ck of the MTT that after that, I went and got dinner and just walked around Vegas the rest of the night, instead of playing at the cash tables.
Now of course, small to moderate MTT tournaments serve these purposes for the interests of casinos
1. Get butts in the casino and poker room to make the whole casino seem more lively and constantly populated, thus encouraging casual passer-byes to play there or at nearby slots
. It's a monkey-see-monkey-do revenue maker.
2. Get no-risk/guaranteed revenue from the buy-in/admin fees.
3. Get poker players in the door so they play cash games after they win or bust out from the tournament so the casinos can make money from consistent rake.
4. Encourage long-term relationships with poker players so they constantly return to their poker room and spend more of their money.
So, it would be in the best interests of casinos to run poker-player friendly tournaments to stimulate other areas of revenue, rather than forcing action and getting the MTT over with as soon as possible (i.e. nickel and dime-ing revenue), yet frustrating poker players in the process.
It is as if casinos are saying, "Hey, poker players: You need diapers (i.e. ridiculously fast levels and escalating big blinds) to encourage you to poop (i.e. force action).
But really, WE ARE POKER PLAYERS...WE KNOW HOW TO FORCE ACTION AND WE DO IT CONSTANTLY...
We don't need ridiculously escalating blinds to force action. In fact, ridiculously escalating blinds do the opposite.
I can' tell you how many times that I am deep in a tournament and the tables stagnate because the blinds are so high. Less players, rather than more players, are knocked out because the all-in fest happens, and hardly any flops are seen per hour. Players' chip stacks end up hovering around the same amount, because everyone is just merry-go-rounding everything with no real progress being made positively or negatively. This is especially true when the everyone at the table has moderate or average chip stacks.
Obviously, casinos want players knocked out as much as possible because that is a smarter revenue model, so they think, "Let's just ridiculously escalate the blinds and make shorter blind levels to get the MTT over as soon as possible." Ideologically, I don't disagree or have a problem with this. I understand and want casinos to make money because I understand it is a business, and they are offering a great service to us poker players.
But ironically, I find that more players are knocked out earlier in tournaments (when the blinds are low) rather than later (when the blinds are high).
For example, I've played in tournaments where starting chips are relatively high (let's say $10,000 or so) and blinds are 25/50 where 3-4 players get knocked out of the table within the first 15 minutes. Then, later on when the blinds are 4000-8000, no one gets knocked out for a whole hour.
This is because, in the early stages, more flops are seen and more action is happening which tempts players to put their chips at risk. One player might catch 2 pair on the flop, while another flops a set, while another flops a flush draw, and this is where you get your bust outs because everyone thinks their hand is good.
In contrast, later on when blinds are ridiculously high, you get one person all-in-ing, most people folding, then the action goes to one player who thinks for 5 minutes whether to call the all-in (then ultimately folding), and you end up seeing less hands per hour with little or no flops being seen.
Also, keep in mind, that I would probably be the last person to complain about this as I know how to use escalating blinds to my advantage to progress further in the tournament. But, I also agree with many others that poker becomes a joke and not fun when it becomes coin-flip/all-in fests.
Many times I've found myself deep in a tournament at a table where everyone is laughing or commenting about the all-in fest and people end up openly discussing their hands while they are still in them. People are "wink-wink-hint-hinting" that they have AA-KK-QQ-AK (whether true or not) as they go all-in and it becomes a complete joke. People are telling each other after their all-ins, "Hey man, you don't have to call it" or, "You don't want to call me man," and it's really not poker anymore. With monster hands pre-flop early in the tournament, people would love others to call. Later on, people are like, "Please, for the love of god, don't call me!" It's ridiculous.
I don't claim to have a solution for this but here are some suggestions:
1. Have blind levels stay the same for 2, 3, or even 4 levels as the norm while antes escalate as normal.
2. Have ante amounts stay the same for four levels or have antes come in way-way later as the norm.
3. Have blind and ante levels increase based upon the number of players left in the field. Like, let's say the number of players left hits 100, then blinds and antes go up.
4. Most importantly, have faith that we poker players know how to push action, and we don't need pressure from ridiculously escalating blinds to do so. In fact, blinds forcing the action will only tighten many of us up and lead to less action.
Blind amounts and level durations should *encourage* action not *dictate* it.
Poker players want to play real poker, not bingo. I guarantee if casinos constantly keep in mind what poker players want rather than nickel and dime-ing, then they will see higher player turnouts, which in turn, will generate more revenue for them in the long run.