Live tournament poker presents conundrums at all times and for everybody involved, from the player facing a three-bet out of position with king-queen suited, to the massage therapist trying to shimmy across the room dodging waiters, chair-backs and former clients who quibbled over the bill.
It also presents daily dilemmas for the tournament organisers whose job it is to get these things running smoothly and fairly. The start of another High Roller tournament increases the issues many times over.
One of the main issues surrounds where to place the players, particularly those arriving late. High Roller tournaments, including today’s €25,000 single-day, single re-entry affair, attract the most demanding consumers who have paid for the right to expect the best service.
But these consumers are also most likely to arrive after the scheduled start time. And why not? Registration is open for at least several levels, stacks are deep and the structure is good. (This event started with 12 players. By Level 2 it had 56.)
But where do you seat the newcomers? It wouldn’t be fair if they all got lumped on one new table, but nor would it be fair if a newcomer was able to “table-shop” i.e., stroll around the tournament floor, spot an empty seat he or she liked, and then buy in knowing he or she would fill that specific chair.
In a bid to keep things as fair as possible on the EPT, and in particular at the high buy in events, the tournament staff leave several holes around the tables that open early, with a view to plugging new players in as and when they arrive.
The floor staff are also ready to open new tables, at which the newcomer will take only one seat and others will be plucked randomly from across the tournament to sit down around them. Not long into Level 2, for example, Jani Sointula showed up and bought into the event. He was shown to seat five on a new table.
At around that point, another member of the tournament staff approached Steve O’Dwyer and told him that his number had come up (by virtue of being in the big blind at an existing table) and that he was to join Sointula. Then Tobias Reinkemeier arrived with a new stack and sat in seat 1.
Davidi Kitai was ushered over from another table. And then Rainer Kempe sat down there too. Ihar Soika was the next to be shown to the table, before Tim Adams, who had been playing since nearly the start, was called over as well.
All of a sudden, we had another full table in play, with what looked like three new players and four who were already thick into the swing of things. And the holes they left behind them will now be filled by others arriving late–or any of these folk if they happen to bust and buy in again.
That’s a fate that has already befallen Martin Finger. The former EPT champion was one of the first out. But I think he’s coming back.