Tourney Player leaving mid-tournament

karsus

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Recently, we had a situation where a player mid-tournament decided to leave due to personal reasons. While this was a virtual tournament on PokerStars, we didn't have a lot of options... so I made a call on how to handle it in the moment, which all players were good with. However; as we start to shift back to live games, I would like some guidance on how we should handle this situation in the future.

The tournament is part of an ongoing league where points are awarded towards participation / chip stack in the 'final event' at the end of the year. Additionally, we include a bounty for knocking a player out.

The solution we came to on P*s was that the absent player would be blinded out and that whatever hand they would bust, their bounty would be in play. We also agreed that in no instance would they gain league points (beyond attendance) or a payout due to non-play.

This ruling was somewhat forced by the limitations of the P*s app. However; I would like to understand how it should be handled, should a similar situation happen in a future live game.

Thank you for your comments and insight!
 

upNdown

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I don't understand why there's a question. If somebody leaves, their chips get blinded off until they're out. If it's a bounty tournament, of course the bounty is in play until their last hand when somebody wins it. And if they leave with a big stack and they finish in the money or in the points, they're entitled to the cash and/or the points.
 

Mr Winberg

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I don't understand why there's a question. If somebody leaves, their chips get blinded off until they're out. If it's a bounty tournament, of course the bounty is in play until their last hand when somebody wins it. And if they leave with a big stack and they finish in the money or in the points, they're entitled to the cash and/or the points.
This ^

Take Stu Ungar's 1990 WSOP main event as an example. Copied from wikipedia:
"Ungar's drug problem escalated to such a point that during the WSOP Main Event in 1990, Ungar was found on the third day of the tournament unconscious on the floor of his hotel room from a drug overdose. However, he had such a chip lead that even when the dealers kept taking his blinds out every orbit, Ungar still made the final table and finished ninth, pocketing $25,050."
 

Mr Winberg

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And if they leave with a big stack and they finish in the money or in the points, they're entitled to the cash and/or the points
Having thought some more:

I'm 100% on board with allowing them to cash. Regarding points, I would myself award the points too. However, since points are an artificial addition to the price structure, I have always felt that you should "reward the behavior which you want to encourage". For example, if you want to encourage attendance, then give points to all that attend. If you want to reward aggresive play, then have a top-heavy points system, whereas if you want to reward solid play, have a flat points progression. From this viewpoint, I get if a host would have you forfeit your points if you leave early (although I wouldn't do it myself) as long as it's made clear in the rules beforehand, but not allowing them to cash would IMO be theft.
 

Kakeesh

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This ^

Take Stu Ungar's 1990 WSOP main event as an example. Copied from wikipedia:
"Ungar's drug problem escalated to such a point that during the WSOP Main Event in 1990, Ungar was found on the third day of the tournament unconscious on the floor of his hotel room from a drug overdose. However, he had such a chip lead that even when the dealers kept taking his blinds out every orbit, Ungar still made the final table and finished ninth, pocketing $25,050."

Love this forum. I learn so much.
 

BGinGA

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There is at least one other thread on this topic where it was discussed in-depth.

I agree with the above approach mentioned so far (chips are in play, and those chips are capable of winninig points/cash, same as if the player was present and folded every hand except when all-in), although not everybody on the forum agrees.

For the OP, it's worth looking up that previous thread for the various responses, including how to manage the missing player's blinds so as to not create an unearned positional advantage for other remaining players.
 

upNdown

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This ^

Take Stu Ungar's 1990 WSOP main event as an example. Copied from wikipedia:
"Ungar's drug problem escalated to such a point that during the WSOP Main Event in 1990, Ungar was found on the third day of the tournament unconscious on the floor of his hotel room from a drug overdose. However, he had such a chip lead that even when the dealers kept taking his blinds out every orbit, Ungar still made the final table and finished ninth, pocketing $25,050."
Exactly.
Sorry if I’m being short and dismissive and sounding like a jerk, I’m just honesty shocked that the host thinks he has any decisions to make in a situation like this. And I’m annoyed by the idea that could earn points, but not get them because he wasn’t at the table.
Here’s another illustration.
My buddy was playing a tournament at Foxwoods. He was at a full final table, where everybody was cashing. He was below average, but not quite short stacked.
there were some sort stacks and some wild cards at that table. At one point, after he got through the blinds and the bottom, he just got up and walked away. I thought he was nuts, but he just said, “there’s nothing good that can happen by me playing any of the next few hands.”
Either two or three people got knocked out in that orbit. He laddered up hundreds of dollars by walking away.
Are there any questions that he’s entitled to the money he earned by walking away?
 

upNdown

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Can you give me a readers digest version, @BGinGA ? I understand how somebody has an advantage when there’s a dead stack, but them’s the breaks. Barring collision, why should you do anything, and what could you do?
 

Mr Winberg

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Can you give me a readers digest version, @BGinGA ? I understand how somebody has an advantage when there’s a dead stack, but them’s the breaks. Barring collision, why should you do anything, and what could you do?

I believe this is the thread:

However, to avoid having to deal cards to the empty seat (or give a positional advantage to any of the remaining players), you can skip his seat each deal, and remove the appropriate blind amounts from play when the button passes over his seat. Much better approach imo, and nobody benefits from or is harmed by his departure.
 

Pinball

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We had once a similar siuation. League game 6 players. One guy called me and said that he will come later about 45 min. What is no problem because we have 1 hour last registration. After 20 min. I took won player off the felt in a set over set situation. In the next 7 hand I won all other chips (AA vs KK, KK vs QQ and AK vs TT). So I was Heads Up vs an empty seat.

The players decided that every hand must be played in the HU. So I had to grind him down... Shortly after I finished the HU the guy showed up, got points and money for not playing a single hand....
 

BGinGA

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Empty chair stack is not dealt cards, and both blinds are removed from the stack (and table) when the button passes ovet the seat. If used, the stack posts individual antes as normal. If a table ante is used, it is removed with the blinds.

No positional advantage for any present player, and the absent player's stack pays all obligations.
 

upNdown

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Empty chair stack is not dealt cards, and both blinds are removed from the stack (and table) when the button passes ovet the seat. If used, the stack posts individual antes as normal. If a table ante is used, it is removed with the blinds.

No positional advantage for any present player, and the absent player's stack pays all obligations.
I don’t like it. But only because it’s probably never been done in a casino tournament.
if you’re persuaded to manipulated the game out of a sense of fairness (which I’d suggest has no place in poker) this is a good solution.
 

Mr Winberg

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We had once a similar siuation. League game 6 players. One guy called me and said that he will come later about 45 min. What is no problem because we have 1 hour last registration. After 20 min. I took won player off the felt in a set over set situation. In the next 7 hand I won all other chips (AA vs KK, KK vs QQ and AK vs TT). So I was Heads Up vs an empty seat.

The players decided that every hand must be played in the HU. So I had to grind him down... Shortly after I finished the HU the guy showed up, got points and money for not playing a single hand....
That's quite a story! It wouldn't be possible in my tournaments, the players don't get their stack until they show up. He would've never even been in the tourney.

But in this instance, he was the big winner from a $/h perspective ;)
 

karsus

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There is at least one other thread on this topic where it was discussed in-depth.

I agree with the above approach mentioned so far (chips are in play, and those chips are capable of winninig points/cash, same as if the player was present and folded every hand except when all-in), although not everybody on the forum agrees.

For the OP, it's worth looking up that previous thread for the various responses, including how to manage the missing player's blinds so as to not create an unearned positional advantage for other remaining players.

Thanks BGinGA, I'll do a search and see if I can find the thread


Exactly.
Sorry if I’m being short and dismissive and sounding like a jerk, I’m just honesty shocked that the host thinks he has any decisions to make in a situation like this. And I’m annoyed by the idea that could earn points, but not get them because he wasn’t at the table.
Here’s another illustration.
My buddy was playing a tournament at Foxwoods. He was at a full final table, where everybody was cashing. He was below average, but not quite short stacked.
there were some sort stacks and some wild cards at that table. At one point, after he got through the blinds and the bottom, he just got up and walked away. I thought he was nuts, but he just said, “there’s nothing good that can happen by me playing any of the next few hands.”
Either two or three people got knocked out in that orbit. He laddered up hundreds of dollars by walking away.
Are there any questions that he’s entitled to the money he earned by walking away?
The issue here might be more of how it happened. Essentially, the player got a bad beat, and said something on the order of "I'm having a shitty day, F--- it, I am out of here" and then dropped out of the video chat and left. There was no intention of returning. He had a pretty small stack, so there wasn't much chance of him getting points/cash anyways. Also, this being on P*s, the flat blind structure allowed him to get a lot farther than would have happened live (the blinding down got him to the final table); and then changed the play dynamic as people tightened up their play considerably, not wanting to get bubbled out by the auto-folding absent player with a tiny chip stack.

In a live game we have a more traditional blinds structure, which would have likely made this less of an issue in this specific situation.

I don’t like it. But only because it’s probably never been done in a casino tournament.
if you’re persuaded to manipulated the game out of a sense of fairness (which I’d suggest has no place in poker) this is a good solution.
I saw your post from the 1990 WSOP but is that still the rules today (I couldn't find anything in the TDA guide).
 

ekricket

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Just curious, if he pays his money any then just folds every hand, even stating up front that he’s just going to sit there and fold every hand, would you give him league points? Or does he lose them because he didn’t play like you wanted him to? I guess once they pay they can play however they want within the rules, even being absent if they want.

As far as advantage with an empty seat, do you move weak players around so that all the good players have the same advantage over them during the tournament? Sometimes shit happens in a game and it changes the dynamic, and you have to adjust for it.
For me if you pay your money your chips (and points) are in play whether you are there or not. Sometimes being gone is a strategy.

If you haven’t paid and are late then that’s different, you get a full stack when you show up if your there before the rebuy period ends.
 

BGinGA

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Big difference between 'changing dynamics' and 'awarding a permanent positional advantage' to one or two players, imo.
 

karsus

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Just curious, if he pays his money any then just folds every hand, even stating up front that he’s just going to sit there and fold every hand, would you give him league points? Or does he lose them because he didn’t play like you wanted him to? I guess once they pay they can play however they want within the rules, even being absent if they want.

As far as advantage with an empty seat, do you move weak players around so that all the good players have the same advantage over them during the tournament? Sometimes shit happens in a game and it changes the dynamic, and you have to adjust for it.
For me if you pay your money your chips (and points) are in play whether you are there or not. Sometimes being gone is a strategy.

If you haven’t paid and are late then that’s different, you get a full stack when you show up if your there before the rebuy period ends.

I get your point. While it is somewhat of a dick move (everyone had to wait for the timer to expire on him, on every hand), it really is no different from just sitting there and folding. In that case they should be treated the same.
 

trigs

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Aren't seats assigned randomly anyway? So if I get the empty seat in the BB when I'm button it's almost the same as if I get the huge nit that folds every hand in the BB as well. If the player paid and is willing to throw away money and not play a hand, that's their choice. It's not my fault as a player that the guy two seats to my left never plays a hand. Could have worked out that way for anyone at the table.
 

upNdown

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Essentially, the player got a bad beat, and said something on the order of "I'm having a shitty day, F--- it, I am out of here" and then dropped out of the video chat and left.
That is a chump move. I understand why you’d want to discourage that:
 

upNdown

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Aren't seats assigned randomly anyway? So if I get the empty seat in the BB when I'm button it's almost the same as if I get the huge nit that folds every hand in the BB as well. If the player paid and is willing to throw away money and not play a hand, that's their choice. It's not my fault as a player that the guy two seats to my left never plays a hand. Could have worked out that way for anyone at the table.
I agree. Memories of that other thread are coming back to me, and I maybe have mentioned this story there.). I remember a MTT where they put all the stacks out at the start. The computer seats people randomly, and I got the shaft. I believe we were playing 4-handed for close to an hour, and I was first to act 4 or 5 times, every orbit.
That sucked, but that’s poker. You can only play the cards you’re dealt. (Eventually the table filled up.)
 
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Mr Winberg

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I saw your post from the 1990 WSOP but is that still the rules today (I couldn't find anything in the TDA guide).
You talking to me? :)

I haven't checked TDA, but I guess there's a rule on handling an abandoned seat, i.e. wether or not they get cards etc. If I remember correctly they do get cards but the dealer collects them immediately. My point is that there's no distinction between having left your seat or having left for good. And if there was: where do you draw the line? 5 minutes? 50 minutes? 5 hours?
 

karsus

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Reading the other thread(s) on this topic, I think I am leaning towards BGinGA's approach:
We handle emergency departures as follows:
  • Empty seat stack remains on the table
  • Empty seat is not dealt cards
  • Appropriate blind amounts (big and small blinds) are taken from the empty seat stack when button passes (chips removed from play)
  • Empty seat is awarded prize $$ and/or points based on finishing position
  • Any money chop agreement involving the absent player stack must be based on ICM
It's the fairest way to handle it -- no remaining players gain any advantage, and the vacant seat player is not penalized (and gains no advantage).

It's no different than if the absent player folded every hand, except that no remaining players gain an unfair advantage based on their seating position relative to the absent player.

I get the comments around 'poker is not suppose to be fair'; but this is a home game among friends. In that environment, I believe that we should strive to be as equitable as reasonable and attempt to cause the least disruption to the dynamics of play. Also, this approach should have a minimal impact on the speed of play.
 

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Whether or not you take away the positional advantage when somebody leaves mid-tournament is a judgment call. Personally, my ample rear end is lodged right on the middle of the fence post on that one. However, what to do with his/her chips, awarding points, and cashing is not really up for debate in my opinion as long as the person paid an entry fee like everybody else. Blind him/her out (or use the alternative method @BGinGA advocates). If he/she earns points or places high enough to cash, he/she is entitled to it. Much like most I see on here I think it is that simple and the person's demeanor, intentions, skill level, amount of chips, etc. have absolutely no bearing on the decision.
 

BGinGA

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The only way -- in good faith -- to prevent an absent player from earning points or cash is to remove his stack and refund his entry.

However, this approach penalizes the other remaining players (the prize pool is reduced), and opens the door to angle-shooting -- a player may suffer a loss, become short-stacked, and then announce an 'emergency' reason for leaving (and get a refund of his buy-in).

I don't like it for those reasons.
 
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There is at least one other thread on this topic where it was discussed in-depth.

I agree with the above approach mentioned so far (chips are in play, and those chips are capable of winninig points/cash, same as if the player was present and folded every hand except when all-in), although not everybody on the forum agrees.

For the OP, it's worth looking up that previous thread for the various responses, including how to manage the missing player's blinds so as to not create an unearned positional advantage for other remaining players.
Not sure if you were referring to my situation, but the information provided was very helpful!!

https://www.pokerchipforum.com/threads/tourney-points-advice.37551/
 

PlaidDragon

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I've never had a player depart mid tourney.

If that happened for an event with bounties I'd guess we'd employ something like:

1) A departing player's stack remains on the table until blinded out.
2) The bounty chip/token/whatever is placed into the pot when the stack in question is all-in.
3) Regardless of where they placed, departing players ARE NOT eligible for points/payouts.

For non-bounty it'd probably be easier just to remove the stack in question?

Regarding refunding of the buy-in... ugh.

I can see reasons to allow the refund, but (as was previously mentioned) I can see it as an avenue for abuse. Don't know the right answer here.
 

JRReynolds6181

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According to Roberts Rules of Poker, the gold standard of poker rules:
Section 15: Tournaments: (p.38) “A no-show or absent player is always dealt a hand. That player’s stack will post chips for blinds and antes, and have the forced lowcard bet put into the pot at stud.”
I’m personally not going to go against Roberts Rules of Poker (RRoP), feel free if you want to wade out into those dark and shark infested waters, I’ll be happily sipping a mai tai on a dry deck in a folding chair aboard the S.S. RRoP.

edit: removed a redundancy and improved the already tedious and strained metaphor
 
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