Tourney Multi-Pool Tournaments

Mental Nomad

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So I've been playing with the idea of variable-entry tournaments, or multi-pool tournaments, as I'm calling it.

It's a way to allow each person in a group buy into a tournament for the stakes they feel like playing, as opposed to forcing everyone into a single stakes.

The mechanics are the same as for a hand with an all-in and a side pot:

  • The lowest amount that everyone covers becomes the main prize pool.
  • The excess above that becomes a side prize pool, and only those who bought in at the higher amount are eligible for the second pool.
  • Tournament plays normally, all with the same starting stack, and with just one finish order.

An example: ten people want to play a tournament. Five of them want to do a $20 buy-in, but five want to do a $50 buy-in. So you let them all buy in as they want:

upload_2015-4-28_14-17-55.png


Everyone has bought in for $20 or more, so that establishes the main pool:

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Now, the remaining $150 goes to a second pool - a side pool - consisting of five people who entered with an extra $30 beyond the $20:

upload_2015-4-28_14-20-26.png


So ten players vie for the $200 pool, and five of them vie for the $150 side pool.
Tournament plays normally, all with the same chip stack, and with just one finish order.

Some interesting dynamics emerge - Adam, in both pools, might be wary of losing all his chips to Doug, who's only in the main pool... then again, Adam would love to pick up all of Doug's chips, because they help Adam relative to the other players in the side pool. The effects balance each other out.

Later, though, if Charlie, Ed, and Iggy get knocked out, then Adam and Bob are the only players left in the $150 side pool. There may still be lots of players in the main pool... but Adam and Bob might start playing like they're "on the bubble." Players should be aware of this, and what it might mean for their play... but it's still fair, because everyone has the same knowledge.

A more complex example - let's say the tourney ends, they decide to do it again, and this time, Ed and Bob have a little more gambool:

upload_2015-4-28_14-42-27.png


Everyone is in the $20 pool is playing for $200; the same five people as before are in the side pool of $150, but Ed and Bob are in third side pool of $100.

They play one last game; a lot of players turn out their pockets to have one more go:

upload_2015-4-28_14-47-21.png


That one is pretty crazy, with seven side pools! But the spreadsheet does the work.
Also, there are only really six side pools - Bob's big $200 entry is unmatched, and he gets $125 back. Instant win.

Settling the payouts seems confusing, but if I replace player number with finish order:

upload_2015-4-28_14-55-38.png


And then tell the spreadsheet to sort by finish order:

upload_2015-4-28_14-56-2.png


If you look down a column, the highest person with money in that pool wins it.
It's easy to see that Gary sweeps all the pools he's in - he wins $100, $90, $35, and $90.
Adam takes in $50.
Iggy gets $15
And Bob gets $40 - and his $125 back. It's as if he only bought in for $75, which was the biggest anyone matched.

Jim finished ahead of Adam and Iggy, but didn't have money in side pools against them, so they won money and Jim didn't.

And when Gary and Ed were heads-up, Adam, Iggy, and Bob could be paid out.

In fact, when Adam got knocked out, Gary won $90 right then, and there were only three pools left 'in play.'

If everyone buys in for a different amount, it can get crazy and almost require a spreadsheet... but when there are only two levels, it's really quite easy - and it doesn't matter if there are eight people buying in for $100 and two for $20, or eight buying in for $20 and two buying in for $100 - it allows everyone to play the right stakes for themselves.

Thoughts? Love it? Hate it?
Want the spreadsheet?
 

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Bloody Marvelous

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It's an interesting idea, and would work great for a winner takes all structure.

For a scaled payout percentage (I don't think it's fair that Ed doesn't win anything even though he finished 2nd out of 10, just because Gary bought in for more) it could be a little harder to implement. Not impossible, but just harder.
 

Mental Nomad

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I agree - the payouts should be structured when there's more than a few people in the pool, but I didn't want to over-complicate the concept in the first presentation. It can be hairy enough, as it is.

I'd advocate for a simple set of "house rules" for how payouts are structured, so it doesn't have to be argued about for each pool - you don't know in advance how many people will be in any pool. Whatever the rules, you'd almost certainly want some sort of payout structure in the 10-player pool.

Another things that's pretty easy to handle: rebuys. If someone's knocked out and buys in again with a fresh stack, just enter them as a new player. If Hank gets knocked out early and rebuys, he comes back as Born-Again-Hank (or Hank2, or whatever). Put Born-Again-Hank in as a new player in the spreadsheet, and he rest handles itself, even if he buys in for a different amount (putting him in a different set of pools.) Same goes for late entries.

Add-ons, however, may be messy. Need to think that through carefully.
 

abby99

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I've played in tournaments with a stated buy-in and an optional side pool, but never one with more than one side pool. This structure doesn't preclude last-longer bets.

Payout structures were usually percentages based on the number of players in that particular pool. For example, if the total number of players is 20, the payouts might be 40/30/20/10. If there are 8 players in the side pool, the percentages would be the same as for that group's 8-player tournaments, perhaps 50/30/20. Last-longer bets are negotiated among the participants.

I don't think rebuys should be handled as new players, which is what you would do with re-entries. Rebuys would increase the size of the main pool only. The payout percentages would stay the same.

If I were managing a tournament like this, I would only have one optional side pool with the payout percentages being based on the number of players participating in the side pool. Last-longer bets would be negotiated by and settled among the players themselves and would not be part of the official tournament structure.

Simplicity and transparency are good things.
 

Mental Nomad

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I don't think rebuys should be handled as new players, which is what you would do with re-entries. Rebuys would increase the size of the main pool only.

I don't think that's good. Consider the first example I put up - where half bought in for $20, and half bought in for $50. If someone who bought in for $50 (putting $20 in the mail pool and $30 in the side pool) goes bust and rebuys for $50, why should $50 go into the main pool?

Unless you're saying they should only be able to rebuy for $20, which would go into the main pool... but then, they should not be eligible to win the side pool any more.

To me, the only reasonable way to handle it is this: if they rebuy for $50, put $20 more in the main point, and $30 more in the side, and they're eligible for both.

Of course, that has the same effect as just entering their second buy-in as a new person. Exact same outcome.

The difference is that I'm allowing for them to choose to rebuy for a different amount than their original buy-in. So if someone was in for $50 and goes bust, but they only want to rebuy for $20, they can - but they're no longer eligible to win the side pool. On the other hand, if someone was in for $20 and goes bust, and they want to rebuy for $50, they can get in on both pools; that would be like a rebuy for the main pool, but a late entry for the side pool.

Handling all rebuys as if they were a new entry just makes the math and spreadsheet simple and transparent.
 

Mental Nomad

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I think add-ons are OK, as long as you express them as a fraction of the original buyin, and not as a fixed amount.

In other words, this is a problem, when half buy in for $20 and half buy in for $50:

Starting stacks are T30K, with an optional T15K add-on after one hour for $10.

This may be fine for everyone who bought in for $20, but causes problem for those at the $50 buy-in level. The bucks in the main pool buys an awful lot of chips that are competing in the side pool.

This, on the other hand, will work out fine:

Starting stacks are T30K, with an optional T15K add-on after one hour for 1/2 the original buy-in.

So people who buy in for $50 have to pay $25 for their add-on.

If someone who already re-bought is adding on, their add-on amount is 1/2 their latest buy-in (not their original buy-in, that player is out.)
 

abby99

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Unless you're saying they should only be able to rebuy for $20, which would go into the main pool... but then, they should not be eligible to win the side pool any more.

To me, the only reasonable way to handle it is this: if they rebuy for $50, put $20 more in the main point, and $30 more in the side, and they're eligible for both.

Good point. I didn't think of that, but then again I have almost no experience with rebuy tournaments.

The more I think about multiple prize pools, the more my head feels like it's going to explode.
 

BGinGA

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I have ran (and played in) many multi-tiered entry tournaments (both backgammon and poker). All were done as abby outlined; prize pools were established for each entry fee group, and payouts structured based on the number of entries for each group. Re-buys were handled similarly to how Mental noted; whatever a player's initial buy-in amount was also that player's re-buy cost, and appropriately allocated to each group's prize pool. It's all actually quite simple to implement and run.

However, treating re-buys as new entries skews the actual total number of entries (players) in each pool/group, thus changing the payout structure. I wouldn't do it that way - it cause more problems than it solves.

The total number of players (and payouts) for each group is always made public, although sometimes the actual participants of each group (beyond the base group) is kept confidential until the event concludes -- making for a completely different strategy set that when everybody knows who's who (for starters, one never really knows when on the bubble for a 2nd- or 3rd-tier group finish). Of course, the organizer/director will always know everything, but typically they don't play when the group participants are kept secret from the field. Adding to this strategy sub-set is the fact that lying is an integral part of poker -- so some players may reveal that they are in a group or not in a group, essentially affecting how other may play (but they may be lying!). I personally prefer the open structure, but the tournaments with hidden groups are always great fun and a mystery until the very end.


We also routinely use bounty chips in a similar fashion -- a 'base' bounty chip is distributed to all players as part of their buy-in cost, and an optional 'super-bounty' chip can be purchased by players who wish to increase their bounty wagers. When a super-bounty player is knocked out by a non-super-bounty player, the super-bounty player forfeits just the base bounty chip but retains their super-bounty chip for redemption. Participation in the optional super-bounty pool usually ranges between 60%-80%, occasionally 100%
.
 

Bloody Marvelous

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I'm not sure about the rebuys. For this structure I'd stick with freezeouts.
If you only allow rebuys for the buy-in amount, I wouldn't add a new entry, just add the rebuy amount to the original buy-in, and redistribute the rebuy over the different pools, so Adam is now in tier 1 for $20, in tier 2 for $20, in tier 3 for $10, in tier 4 for $30, and in tier 5 for $20.

If you're going to allow variable buy-ins that might give players to angle shoot for free money.

Let's say that after Bob goes busto and doesn't rebuy, Iggy decides to rebuy for $200. Now he's guaranteed the $125 that was dead money and would've been paid back to Bob.
You'd need extra rules to prevent that, like you can only rebuy up to your original buy-in.

Players also need to know that, when rebuying for less than the original buy-in, they forfeit the difference.

Though I agree that adding a new entry for a variable rebuy is probably the best way of handling this, I don't think the rebuy should change the payout structure.
Say that you have 10 players at the table, and you're paying out the top 3 positions in that case. Now you've got 5 rebuys, which would make 15 players, which would mean you'd pay out the top 4 positions. I'd still only pay out the top 3.

Late entries or reentries would count as extra players, so that would affect the payout structure.

Add-ons would complicate things to no end. The player hasn't gone bust, so you can't use the "new entry" for this. I also don't think that adding on should entitle you to the prizepools created by players who bought in for a higher amount. Variable add-ons are even worse, how many chips do you get when you've bought in for $200 (like Bob), but only decide to add-on for $20. How is that money distributed into the prizepools? Even if you allow players to add-on only for their buy-in amount, doesn't that give Bob an unfair advantage since 62.5% of his buy-in is uncontested?
 

Mental Nomad

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Marvelous points, marvelous.

I'd freeze the payout structure at buy-in; re-buys boost the pool, but don't change the structure.

Gotta think through the angle-shooting - not something I usually focus on.

In my mind, Bob's $125 unmatched are returned immediately and not in a pool, but the premise is still there if you return it - Bob and Charlie are in the top $40 pool. Bob busts, so Charlie should win - but then Charlies plays over-confidently and busts, and then Iggy busts and re-buys for $75. That puts $20 into the $40 pool, making it $60, but also means Iggy's the only person left in the pool, and will get the $60 if nobody else rebuys into it.

It's arguably fair if everyone knows about this and the implications ahead of time. After all, Bob or Charlie are free to rebuy, too.

This also raises the question... when time comes for add-ons, do you want to allow buy-ups? By that, I mean allowing someone to add money to buy into a higher tourney pool (you get no extra chips when buying up.) This can be cool, or may be an angle-shoot... suppose Bob, Charlie, and Iggy are all still in the game when the time comes - but Iggy has been running well, and has a huge stack. He can then decide to pony up $20 extra dollars to play in the top bracket against only two players, each of whom has a much smaller stack.

I think it's problematic. I suspected all of these angles are gone if you make it a freeze-out - or alternately, if rebuys/add-ons stay within your origianl pools only.
 

BGinGA

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As someone who has actually done this, I think you're over-thinking everything, and seem intent on making it a lot harder than it actually is. Multi-tier tournaments are a no-brainer if you follow the guidelines in my previous post, and there are no angle-shoot opportunities (beyond those in any tournament). Don't need a fancy spreadsheet to run one, either (and I love spreadsheets.....) - although it can make the bookkeeping easier.
 

Mental Nomad

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I think you're over-thinking everything, and seem intent on making it a lot harder than it actually is.

I'm not trying to make it harder. I'm enjoying thinking it through, including the possible variants and potential gotchas.

I'd definitely use a spreadsheet - it makes it easier to tell a group of people, "everyone can buy in for WHATEVER they want." Nobody will feel guilty about causing extra math if the additional effort is nil, so it'll lead to a more "interesting" set of pools. Which, given my crowd, will also make it more fun.

I also have an ulterior motive for thinking through various options... a seekrit ulterior motive...
 
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