Tourney Payout structure

SixSpeedFury

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How many places do you guys pay out in correlation to the number of players/entries? What structure would you say is the best for payouts? I've seen percentage (50%/30%/20%), progression (7/5/4/3/2/1, etc.), and if I recall correctly, @abby99 did a formula over on big big blue a few years back that paid out in accordance to chip stacks.
 

atomiktoaster

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Depends on the number of players. I was going to have 9 and pay out $60/$20/$10. When it ended up being 7, we went to $50/$20. Winners buy breakfast though, and I try to leave enough room to encourage a chop rather than having people sit around during heads up play.

I doubt many people would call that "best" but it works for us.
 

justsomedude

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This is a question that is entirely dependent upon the group of people playing, buyin/rebuy size. game size, personality traits, etc.

When my group is a single table, or 10 people total or less (two tables of 5), we just do winner take all. We run a $20 buyin / $10 rebuy game. We buy pizza for the group from the pot. After all is said and done we may only have $100 or $120 in the pot on smaller nights, so winner take all makes sense, especially if the game is wrapping up by 10:30pm or so.

For larger games, we do it a little different. I have 18 people registered for this Friday's game, so the bigger pot warrants more payouts. After rebuys, pizza cost, etc., we'll probably have $350 - $400 in the pot and we'll do payouts for 1st, 2nd, 3rd. We don't stick to a strict percentage, instead, we just go with easy numbers that make sense. If, for example, we have $360 in the pot, we would probably just do something like $200-$100-$60, or $200-$120-$40.

Once rebuys end, and pizza has been ordered, I announce the pot size and we just vote on a payout structure. It usually doesn't take more than a minute or so... everyone is usually pretty loose on booze at that point, and they just want to play. I'll throw out a structure and just get a lot of, "sure - that's great - just friggin' deal!" responses.

At the final table, we also let players decide payouts. One night we had our final table going to 2am with headsup play... the two players were tired and wanted to go home, so they just agreed to chop the top two payouts. As host, I had no issue with this. But, we're a low-key/easy-going group. In other groups, I could see defining payout structures being a more serious/onerous affair - especially in games with much higher buyins.
 

abby99

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How many places do you guys pay out in correlation to the number of players/entries? What structure would you say is the best for payouts? I've seen percentage (50%/30%/20%), progression (7/5/4/3/2/1, etc.), and if I recall correctly, @abby99 did a formula over on big big blue a few years back that paid out in accordance to chip stacks.

The only payout that I recall being based on chip stacks was in the early bird tournament at Harrah's Las Vegas from more than five years ago. It was advertised as a one-hour tournament starting at 9:00 a.m. I asked the floor how they could structure a tournament to end in exactly one hour. Simple, he said. You stop the clock at 10:00 a.m. and pay out the top X spots according to their chip stacks (i.e., biggest stack gets first, second biggest stack gets second, etc.).

When I played in a local home game that did small tournaments (<17 players), the payout was 3:2:1 for up to 11 players and 4:3:2:1 for 12-16 players.

The ultimate payout by chip stacks would be to end the game early (when you get down to the number of players who will be paid) and distribute the prize pool using the ICM formula (explained here). However, this method is seriously flawed (see the article), and the most serious flaw IMO is that players don't know going in how much each place will pay. I've never heard of anybody actually doing this, but I suppose anything's possible.
 

Bloody Marvelous

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IMNSHO, ICM should only be used when players ask for a chop. You then calculate how much each player would get based on their current chipstack using ICM, and ask if they all agree to chop for those amounts. The amounts are non-negotiable though, so if you don't agree you need to play on.

I personally like/use:
  1. 100% (2-4 players // Field payout percentage: 50%-25%)
  2. 65% / 35% (5-9 players // Field payout percentage: 40%-22%)
  3. 50% / 30% / 20% (10-16 players // Field payout percentage: 30%-19%)
  4. 40% / 25% / 20% / 15% (17-24 players // Field payout percentage: 24%-17%)
  5. 37.5% / 25% / 17.5% / 12.5% / 7.5% (25-33 players // Field payout percentage: 20%-15%)
 
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SixSpeedFury

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Bloody Marvelous

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Let's say for example:

1-9 (or 10)
11-20
21-30
31-40 etc.

1-9 (or 10): Payout 5 places
11-20: Payout 15 places
21-30: Payout 40 places
31-40: Payout 2 places
etc.



How does the progression payout work?

Let's say everbody buys in for $8.24, except for the host who buys in for $6.78, and you round the prizes to multiples of $23.97, the payouts for 12 to 16 players are $12.88 for 1st place, $13.92 for 5th place, $2,33 for 6th place, and $2.77 for John.
 

grandgnu

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I generally only host single table tourneys with payouts as follows:

5 or less players = 100% to winner
6-8 players = 60/40 split
9+ players = 50/30/20 split
 

SixSpeedFury

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1-9 (or 10): Payout 5 places
11-20: Payout 15 places
21-30: Payout 40 places
31-40: Payout 2 places
etc.





Let's say everbody buys in for $8.24, except for the host who buys in for $6.78, and you round the prizes to multiples of $23.97, the payouts for 12 to 16 players are $12.88 for 1st place, $13.92 for 5th place, $2,33 for 6th place, and $2.77 for John.

love it.
 

BGinGA

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I personally like/use:
  1. 100% (2-4 players // Field payout percentage: 50%-25%)
  2. 65% / 35% (5-9 players // Field payout percentage: 40%-22%)
  3. 50% / 30% / 20% (10-16 players // Field payout percentage: 30%-19%)
  4. 40% / 25% / 20% / 15% (17-24 players // Field payout percentage: 24%-17%)
  5. 37.5% / 25% / 17.5% / 12.5% / 7.5% (25-33 players // Field payout percentage: 20%-15%)

This is a similar concept to what we use for up to 30 players, except our awarded percentages are based on ratios, and we pay 25% on field sizes of 2-17 players, and 20% on field sizes of 18-30 players (rounded up).

I am a big proponent of the 12-player baseline 60/30/10 concept, where every pay step gets larger proportionally: 3rd gets 10% more than 4th, 2nd gets 20% more than 3rd, and 1st gets 30% more than 2nd). Two paid places would be 70/30 (2nd gets 30% more than 3rd, 1st gets 40% more than 2nd). It can also be extended to apply to larger fields that pay more places.

BM's #3 and #4 payouts above are perfect examples of how NOT to do it, imo:
re: #3 (50/30/20) -- it has never made sense to me to award 3rd place 20% more than 4th, yet only award 2nd place 10% more than 3rd -- and then award 1st 20% more than 2nd. My view is that 60/30/10 is a much better structure, for the reasons stated above.

Similarly, re: #4 (40/25/20/15) -- 4th gets 15% more than 5th, but 3rd only gets 5% more than 4th, same with 2nd only getting 5% more than 3rd, then 1st gets 15% more than 2nd -- makes no sense to reward 4th and penalize 3rd and 2nd. A better and more balanced structure is 50/30/15/5, where the pay jumps are 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20%.


Using ratios (up to 21:15:10:6:3:1) to determine payouts, paid to the top 20-25% of the field size (rounded up):

field - paid - ratio - percentages paid
2-5, 1, - 100%
6-9, 2, (3:1), 75%/25%
10-13, 3, (6:3:1), 60%/30%/10%
14-22, 4, (10:6:3:1), 50%/30%/15%/5%
23-27, 5, (15:10:6:3:1), 43%/28.5%/17%/8.5%/3%
28-30, 6, (21:15:10:6:3:1), 37.5%/26.5%/18%/10.5%/5.5%/2%

Percentages are applied to the available prize pool, rounded to the nearest $5.
 
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Bloody Marvelous

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It depends on your philosophy I guess.

I like to pay at least (or close to) 2x the initial buy-in to players who finish in the money. With 10 players that means that 3rd place should get 20%. If you only pay 10% that player only got his buy-in back. To me that's no reward for your finish. You may as well not have played then.

When paying 5% to 4th place out of 14 means that player wins about 1/2 of his buy-in back. That's pretty pitiful, even for a consolation prize. I personally feel that you might as well not pay out in that case at all.

Also, calculating in difference in percentages is a mathematical no-no.

When you're paying out 75% and 25%, you're not paying out 50% more to 1st place. You're paying out 200% more than 2nd.
 
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BGinGA

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It depends on your philosophy I guess.

Agreed.


I like to pay at least (or close to) 2x the initial buy-in to players who finish in the money. With 10 players that means that 3rd place should get 20%. If you only pay 10% that player only got his buy-in back. To me that's no reward for your finish. You may as well not have played then.

Totally disagree. Generally, I feel that a top 20% finish is worthy of an ample award. A player who finishes 3rd in a 10-player field didn't quite make that cut, but he does get something (10%, or his entry back) -- he basically played for free, and had a chance to win much more. I'll take that offer every day of the week, and it's a much better option than if the event only paid the top 20%. Using your results-based logic, the 4th-place finisher also should not have played, since he got nothing for his finish.


When paying 5% to 4th place out of 14 means that player wins about 1/3rd of his buy-in back. That's pretty pitiful, even for a consolation prize. I personally feel that you might as well not pay out in that case at all.

Actually, the 4th-place finisher in a 14-player event gets 5%, which is 70% of his buy-in (not 1/3rd). Reasonable imo, for the same reasons stated above.


Also, calculating in difference in percentages is a mathematical no-no.

When you're paying out 75% and 25%, you're not paying out 50% more to 1st place. You're paying out 200% more than 2nd.

Yeah, I knew you'd jump on that one. In reality, it's a matter of increasing units of reward, not percentages. But the gist of the argument is the same.
 

BGinGA

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I like to pay at least (or close to) 2x the initial buy-in to players who finish in the money. With 10 players that means that 3rd place should get 20%.

This approach is not uncommon, especially for friendly home games -- paying 30% of the field size, and making the minimum prize amount 2x the buy-in cost. The larger the payout pool % size, the harder it is to award a 2x min prize and keep the payouts 'fair' for those who performed better. Most of the 'standard' payout schedules do not take this into account.
 

Bloody Marvelous

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Totally disagree. Generally, I feel that a top 20% finish is worthy of an ample award. A player who finishes 3rd in a 10-player field didn't quite make that cut, but he does get something (10%, or his entry back) -- he basically played for free, and had a chance to win much more. I'll take that offer every day of the week, and it's a much better option than if the event only paid the top 20%. Using your results-based logic, the 4th-place finisher also should not have played, since he got nothing for his finish.

That's our difference in philosphy then. I feel that if you make the money you should have something to show for it, and not get (part of) your buy-in back.

Yeah, I knew you'd jump on that one. In reality, it's a matter of increasing units of reward, not percentages. But the gist of the argument is the same.

I'm all for increasing units of rewards, but by paying out more players you're working yourself into a corner.

$25 buy-in 18 player tournament & amounts rounded to the nearest $5 (with the amounts I would select in bold type):

1st: 50% = $225 ........ (2nd + $90 or 2nd + 66.7%, profit: 800%)
2nd: 30% = $135 ........ (3rd + $70 or 3rd + 107.6%, profit: 440%)
3rd: 15% = $65 (14.4%) or $70 (15.6%) ........ (4th + $40 or 4th + 160%, profit: 180%)
4th: 5% = $25 (5.6%) or $20 (4.4%) ........ (1.0x original buy-in, profit: 0%)

or

1st: 40% = $180 ........ (2nd + $70 or 2nd + 56.5%, profit: 620%)
2nd: 25% = $110 (24.4%) or $115 (25.6%) ........ (3rd + $25 or 3rd + 27.8%, profit: 360%)
3rd: 20% = $90 ........ (4th + $25 or 4th + 38.5%, profit: 260%)
4th: 15% = $70 (15.6%) or $65 (14.4%) ........ (2.6x original buy-in, profit: 160%)


$25 buy-in 14 player tournament & amounts rounded to the nearest $5 (with the amounts I would select in bold type):

1st: 50% = $175 ........ (2nd + $70 or 2nd + 66.7%, profit: 600%)
2nd: 30% = $105 ........ (3rd + $55 or 3rd + 110%, profit: 320%)
3rd: 15% = $50 (14.3%) or $55 (15.7%) ........ (4th + $30 or 4th + 150%, profit: 100%)
4th: 5% = $20 (5.7%) or $15 (4.3%) ........ (0.8x original buy-in, loss: 20%)

or (since I only pay out the top 3)

1st: 50% = $175 ........ (2nd + $70 or 2nd + 66.7%, profit: 600%)
2nd: 30% = $105 ........ (3rd + $25 or 3rd + 50%, profit: 360%)
3rd: 20% = $70 ........ (2.8x original buy-in, profit: 180%)

This approach is not uncommon, especially for friendly home games -- paying 30% of the field size, and making the minimum prize amount 2x the buy-in cost. The larger the payout pool % size, the harder it is to award a 2x min prize and keep the payouts 'fair' for those who performed better. Most of the 'standard' payout schedules do not take this into account.

It's finding that balance between paying out enough players and paying out enough money per player. Overall I decided to pay out a smaller percentage of players to make sure that those who do make the money walk away with a profit.
 

grandgnu

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I agree with BM as far as not wanting to pay someone less than they paid to play in the first place. That kinda feels like when you bet 300 units on a slot and you "win" 180, it doesn't feel like a win.

I prefer to have the paying spots showing some type of profit (unless it's a situation where players are agreeing to pay what would've been the bubble their money back)
 

detroitdad

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20 player standard pay out for our league games. Rounded to the nearest 5.


1st is 48%

2nd is 24%

3rd is 16%

4th is 12%
 

detroitdad

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6-8 Participants

1st is 66.7%

2nd is 33.3%


9-14 Participants

1st is 54.5%

2nd is 27.3%

3rd is 18.2%
 

Bloody Marvelous

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I figured I'd round the percentages off to a neat 5%, but if DD ain't, I ain't gonna anymore either ;)

Here are the actual exact percentages for 9 player tables (I can round off to any amount if I want to, but usually it's $1. Spreads may differ for 6 [Triple Draw], 7 [Single Draw], 8 [Stud], and 10 player tables):

2-4 Players (50%-25%)
  1. 100% (2x-4x Buy-in)

5-9 Players (40%-22.22%)
  1. 61.111% (3.1x-5.5x Buy-in)
  2. 38.889% (1.9x-3.5x Buy-in)

10-16 Players (30%-18.75%)
  1. 48.219% (4.8x-7.7x Buy-in)
  2. 30.685%
  3. 21.096% (2.1x-3.4x Buy-in)

17-24 Players
(23.53%-16.67%)
  1. 41.805% (7.1x-10x Buy-in)
  2. 26.603%
  3. 18.290%
  4. 13.302% (2.3x-3.2x Buy-in)

25-32 Players (20%-15.63%)
  1. 38.303% (9.6x-12.3x Buy-in)
  2. 24.374%
  3. 16.757%
  4. 12.187%
  5. 8.379% (2.1x-2.7x Buy-in)

33-42 Players (18.18%-14.29%)
  1. 36.276% (12x-15.2x Buy-in)
  2. 23.085%
  3. 15.871%
  4. 11.542%
  5. 7.935%
  6. 5.290% (1.7x-2.2x Buy-in)

43-54 Players (16.28%-12.96%)
  1. 34.892% (15x-18.8x Buy-in)
  2. 22.204%
  3. 15.265%
  4. 11.102%
  5. 7.633%
  6. 5.088%
  7. 3.816% (1.6x-2.1x Buy-in)

55-72 Players (14.55%-11.11%)
  1. 33.858% (18.6x-24.4x Buy-in)
  2. 21.546%
  3. 14.813%
  4. 10.773%
  5. 7.406%
  6. 4.938%
  7. 3.703%
  8. 2.963% (1.6x-2.1x Buy-in)

73-99 Players (12.33%-9.09%)
  1. 33.042% (24.1x-32.7x Buy-in)
  2. 21.027%
  3. 14.456%
  4. 10.513%
  5. 7.228%
  6. 4.819%
  7. 3.614%
  8. 2.891%
  9. 2.409% (1.8x-2.4x Buy-in)

For more players payout amounts will be combined into groups of 3 (10-12 / 13-15 / 16-18), 9 (19-27 / 28-36 / 37-45 / etc.), and multiples of 9.
 

Mental Nomad

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I understand the sentiment from those who don't want the lowest winner to merely get a refund... I don't agree, but I understand the feeling. You didn't really "win" something, you just got a free game, so you'd rather have the payout be big enough to feel like a "win."

The difference is that rather than let this desire flatten out the payout structure, I'd rather eliminate the payout for the lowest finisher.

In a smaller tourney, I think it's important for each difference in finishing place to be a substantial difference... and the difference between 20% and 30% is too small. The players still have an incentive to vie for first, but they don't much care whether they're second or third, and that weakens the game.

To see this effect at its worst, imagine a payout scheme of 34/33/32... as soon as you bubble, people would rather chop than play.

So, for a 10-player table, I like 60/30/10, and 50/35/15, but not 50/30/20... I'd rather just go 60/40 or 70/30 than 50/30/20.

In a much bigger tournament, the size of the payouts makes the difference in positions larger in dollars, so you can get away with closer percentages. As long as people are willing to vie for each position, you're ok... but in a single-table situation, 20% and 30% are often just two buy-ins and three buy-ins, so the difference you're vying for is basically "one free game..." Which is what people complain about on the 10% slot; it's like merely winning a free game.
 

BGinGA

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Thanks Mental, that sorta sums up my perspective nicely.
 

Bloody Marvelous

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In a smaller tourney, I think it's important for each difference in finishing place to be a substantial difference... and the difference between 20% and 30% is too small. The players still have an incentive to vie for first, but they don't much care whether they're second or third, and that weakens the game.

So to you 50% more cash isn't worth it. You wouldn't care if you won $60 i.s.o. $40 if the buy-in was $20. Or $150 i.s.o. $100 on a $50 buy-in. What about $750 i.s.o $500 in a $250 Buy-in tournament?

Say you enter into a £1,000,000 buy-in, 10 player tournament in the Casino Royale in Monte Negro, and there are three players left. You wouldn't care if you won £3,000,000 or £2,000,000. You'd much rather be in a situation where you'll win your money back if you finish in 3rd place for a chance to win £6,000,000 if you win. Where is the turnover point for you? Or doesn't it matter how high the payouts are?

I'm trying to wrap my head around why you would have a payout that just pays the initial buy-in back or less. Is it just so you can pay out an extra spot or is there some other logic to it? I understand if you prefer to pay out 60%/40% in a 10 player tournament if you feel that paying out double the buy-in doesn't result in a big enough win, but I can't figure out why you would rather pay out 60%/30%/10% than 60%/40% or 65%/35% or 70%/30%.

If 60%/30%/10% is your preferred distribution I can respect that, but I wouldn't pay out 3 spots until there were at least 15 entries and preferably more in the tournament so you'll pay at least 1.5x the initial buy-in to 3rd place.
 

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I suggest that payout structures should vary among groups of regular players according to the preferences of the group. Some might prefer a top-heavy structure while others prefer a flatter structure. Each has its pros and cons and appeals to different groups. For example, a group of serious players with similar skills might prefer a top-heavy structure, while a group of players with vastly different skills might prefer a flatter structure with a higher percentage of places being paid.The right structure for any particular group will foster attendance while the wrong structure may cause players to drop out. IMO there is no single best one-size-fits-all solution.

If the players are happy and keep coming back, keep doing what you're doing. If attendance is dwindling, take a second look at the structure (among other things).
 
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Has anyone here read Gopher Blue's newest thread: "Donald Trump? The Ultimate Mean Girl?" yet? Discuss.
 

SixSpeedFury

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I guess in the gist of it when playing tournaments you obviously want to win more money. I lean towards a top heavy structure, but I can see the complaint where the last payout only gets their buy in back. It's best to just eliminate that and go for the bigger payouts.
 

Mental Nomad

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So to you 50% more cash isn't worth it. You wouldn't care if you won $60 i.s.o. $40 if the buy-in was $20. Or $150 i.s.o. $100 on a $50 buy-in.

It's not about whether 50% more cash is worth it; you have to look at it in context. So for a $50 buy-in tournament with a 50/30/20 payout, after the bubble is past, I've already one $100. How much am I going to focus on taking 2nd, to win an extra $50 on top of my hundred, versus taking 1st, to win another $150? When I've already won $100, another $150 is a lot more interesting than another $50. For most players, if 2nd and 3rd are close, achieving 2nd place quickly drops to the level of only being interesting in as much as you must pass through 2nd to get to 1st.

Or, putting it differently - consider a 10-player tournament and how it would play with a 50/35/15 payout, versus a 50/25/25 payout. I believe they would play differently after the bubble, and I prefer the way a 50/35/15 would play over the way a 50/25/25 would play.

Now think about a 50/30/20... payout-wise, it's halfway between the prior two - but I don't think like a 50/30/20 would play like something midway between the two... I think it plays mostly like a 50/25/25. I think the extra 10 for second place in a 50/30/20 is too weak, in context, for it to matter - not because the 10 is nothing, but because it's too small a jump from 20 to 30 when compared to the jump from 20 to 50. Context matters.

For a gross example of how context matters, imagine the same 10-player tourney, with only TWO seats paying off, with a payout of 55/45. How much more often would people rather chop than play it out? I think it would be an awful lot. But it's that same difference of 10! The 10 just doesn't mean as much in context of the structure.

I'm trying to wrap my head around why you would have a payout that just pays the initial buy-in back or less.

I think the key here is whether you think of that payout as a "refund" or a "win." To me, if I get back my entry because the tourney is cancelled, that's a refund. On the other hand, if I play and win that amount, it's a win - even though I only won as much as much entry (i.e., no "profit.") To me, a "push" doesn't mean I didn't play... I did play, and I didn't lose. And until the bubble goes down, I haven't won that amount - even if others choose to call it a "refund."
 

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It might also be relevant that most of the 1-table tourneys we play at my game are Turbos. Whoever wins the 10% is usually the first one to say, "let's play another!"
 

Bloody Marvelous

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I still have issues with your explanation. For one, bringing up a 50/25/25 payout is nonsensical, as is comparing that to a 50/30/20 payout.

Second, a 55/45 payout is even more nonsensical. Saying there will most likely be a chop is irrelevant since there is still a 50% first prize in a 50/30/20 structure.

Third, it's not the 50/35/15 payout I have issues with (though I'd suggest a 55/30/15 structure in that case), it's using a payout structure that only pays the initial buy-in or less. You may call it a win or a refund, whichever you prefer, but the fact remains that 3rd place doesn't make a profit making it a hollow victory, and I feel that share would be better spent increasing the top two payouts.

Fourth, I don't understand why you have a problem with the jump from 20% to 30%, and would change that to a jump from 15% to 35% so there is a bigger gap, only to reduce the gap between 2nd and 1st to a smaller pay jump than the one from 3rd to 2nd.

Lastly, you're not playing to finish 2nd, you're playing to win. But if you make the money you should be making a profit, not break even or make a small loss.

Also, if you think that the extra 10% is too weak, I'm curious how you feel about this year's WSOP ME payouts:

415th-477th: $21,786
478th-549th: $19,500
550th-648th: $17,282
649th-1000th: $15,000
 

BGinGA

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I don't think it's nonsensical, it's a valid comparison. Lots of structures have multiple finish spots paying the same amount of prize money. A 50/25/25 structure places more emphasis on winning and less on finishing second.

Furthermore, cashing in a tournament is not a 'hollow victory', imo. If you finished 3rd in an event and won cash (even if only equal to the buy-in), you outperformed and received compensation above that received by all players finishing 4th or lower (as in, zero). Once your buy-in is paid, it's gone money. Anything you win at that point is a bonus above the zero amount won by many others.

And not all players always play to finish only 1st, especially in a league setting where a high finish also comes with other rewards (typically points). I failed to mention earlier, but our points structure typically pays out points to the top 30-35% of the field (using a similar 60/30/10 distribution), so every event has both a points bubble and a money bubble.

I do agree that 55/30/15 would be preferable to either 50/30/20 or 50/35/15. But 53/32/15 would be better (as would 60/30/10).
 

BGinGA

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Bloody, it just occurred to me that our biggest difference in opinion is likely this:

You feel that a 65/35 (or 70/30 or 66.7/33.3) payout structure is preferred over 60/30/10, given the same field size -- arguing that the 'token' or 'hollow' 10% payout should just be dropped in favor of increasing the payouts for 1st and/or 2nd.

Secondary issue is your preference for 50/30/20 vs 60/30/10, using the same 'hollow' 10% payout argument as less desirable than 'making a 2x profit'.


The players in our group don't see it that way. I'll defer to abby's comments in post #23 above.
 
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