Tourney (T25) My First Tourney Help, Lots of Little Questions

Hairy_Crocodile

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Hey all!

Since Covid has me stir crazy, and no local places are open to play and learn how to play in tournaments, I would like to try out how well a T25 tournament would go with my group. Our playgroup is very relaxed, but very into the game. Much to learn, but all are very patient and willing to take things seriously and learn new things. I have some cheap chips to use and experiment with for the time being. Once I learn how to do this properly, I'll buy nicer chips.

Max amount of players is 10, low skill level (casual crowd and just starting to learn. Myself and 1 other have been reading books and trying to learn more about the game), and none of us have ever played in a tournament before (minus the one time I played at the free entry tournament at my local bar that is no longer open at the moment due to covid. I played when I knew literally nothing of poker and didnt comprehend anything going on due to my experience level. They also didnt play with denoms, but that's another story. I've learned a lot since then, but still only scratching the surface of the basics)

After reading some posts on here, I see that T25 seems to be the most popular and economical, and wanted to ask some questions and run some things by you all to see if I'm on the right track. I don't really understand tournaments, so I apologize for butchering any of my breakdowns or structures, as well as simple questions that may seem obvious that are going over my head. I have only ever done cash games, so I appreciate your patience.

I copied a list and wanted to run it by everyone to be sure it is the best fit for myself, my, group, and if it's solid for play down the road when players start to get better and better.
Here is what I have so far:

T25, (T25, T100, T500, T1000, T5000)
20K starting stacks (potentially will have bounties)
8/8/6/6/2

320 Chips Total
80x 25
80x 100
60x 500
60x 1000
40x 5000

Binds (Is 15 min or 20 min better?)
25/50
50/100
75/150
100/200
150/300
1st Break, Color up 25's
200/400
300/600
500/1000
800/1600
2nd Break Color up 100's and 500's
1000/2000
1000/3000
2000/4000
3000/6000
5000/10,000
8000/16,000
3rd Break Color up 1000's
10,000/20,000
15,000/30,000
20,000/40,000
30,000/60,000

No idea what numbers to do for payouts. I have read a few things, most of which were something like 50%/30%/20% for a certain number of players and up, 70%/30% for like 6 or less if I remember correctly.

Also, I never understood how many re-buys/re-entries a set like this could support, how to even do re-buys/re-entries, or the difference between the two.

I kinda think I understand how to color up. Basically 1 player buys up all the 25's before the break (there will be some odds and ends I believe), and then I would bring one of the highest denom chip (5000) and make change from the chip leader, then start buying up all the 25's. Then chip up the odds and ends that werent able to be cleanly bought up and round them up using 100s

  • Is this structure a good idea with 10 players with a low experience level?
  • How do I handle re-entries? Do you just throw them 20k in chips from the box and have them make change at the table? How do you calculate how many you can support? When do you cut off the ability to get back in if you get felted?
  • How many chips are reserved and required for coloring up?
  • Any changes you would make?
This forum has been a godsend for me, I have learned so much since I first started. I do not know what I would do without this place as a resource, especially since I can't speak to the poker crowd at the bar for questions due to covid.

Thank you all for making a new player feel welcome to the forums, It ,means a lot to me. I hope I can get to the point where I can begin to help others too.
 

tabletalker7

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Ok. Setting up a structure for a tournament is hard. Here is mine, it should work good for you too
Screenshot (10).png

Color up T25 at break 2. Color up T100 at break 4. Color up T500 at break 5. If you are worried about this taking too long, reduce your starting stack to 10000.

I also recommend you download "Roberts Rules of Poker Version 11". Just throw it into Google and it will find it for you. Not only will it spell out how to properly race for chips during color ups, but also having a set standard rulebook will prevent any accidental wrongdoing, as it spells out what to do in event of misdeals, and give you something to use to make decisions when something inevitably goes wrong (with this many newer players, something will go wrong, and the rulebook sets things in stone instead of letting any biases affect rulings).

Rebuys and reentries are totally different. A rebuy is cheap and gives you a new stack. A reentry is basically a busted player buying in as a brand new player, at full price. With this many new people I would avoid both just to make your life as host easier.

Payouts are up to you. I usually do single table tournaments as winner take all, and the last two people left almost always agree to a "chop", where they negotiate a payout between themselves to just walk away and be done with it.

Other than that have fun with it buddy.
 

BGinGA

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I highly recommend the following 400-chip set for a 10-player T25-base tournament:

120 x T25
120 x T100
50 x T500
75 x T1000 (includes 15x for T25 and t100 color-ups)
35 x T5000 (includes 5x for T500 color-ups, plus 30 extras to be used for stacks > 10K and re-buys/add-ons)
--------------
400 chips

This set supports 10 starting stacks from 5K up to 25K (12/12/5/6/x), includes sufficient chips for color-ups, and has enough T5000 chips to support 4xT5000 re-buys for 20K events. Stack breakdowns of 8/8/6/6/2 (or 8/8/4/7/2) are sub-optimal for single-table events, as they tend to promote tighter play, while also causing potential confusion and time-wastimg via excessive change-making. In addition, you need fewer T500 chips (never need more than 1 per bet) and more T1000 chips towards the middle and end of the event (after they replace the T100 as the workhorse chip). The extra chips are well-worth the cost to ensure smooth game play.

Sounds like you have a decent grasp already on how to color-up chips. Either the race-off or round-up method is fine (I prefer the latter, as it's faster and arguably more fair).

These are commonly used single-table payouts for friendly home games:
9-10 players: pays 3 places --50%-30%-20%, or 55%-30%-15%, or 60%-30%-10%
6-8 players: pays 2 places -- 60%-40%, or 65%-35%, or 70%-30%
5 or fewer: pays 1 place -- 100% WTA

Regarding blind structure and blind times, it all depends on how long you want your event to last. Every tournement will typically end around the time that there are a total of 20 big blinds in play on the table. If you have 10 players with 20K stacks, that means that there is 200K in chips in play, so the event should generally end no later than the 5000/10000 blind level (which also means that T1000 chips will never get colored-up, as they are still needed prior to that time).

The typical re-buy rate for a 200BB event is 25%-33%, or 2-4 players in a 10-player field. Smaller starting stacks (or fast/aggressive blind structures) can increase the re-buy ratio.

Re-buys can be allowed for any amount of time, but realistically, they start losing value as the blinds get larger. I generally don't offer re-buys that are smaller than 20BB at the time of purchase, and usually set a cut-off at between 25BB-40BB.

The following blind structure begins each player with 200 Big Blinds (relatively deep), and has consistent blind increases that range from 33% to 50%, averaging 40%::

L1 50/100
L2 75/150
L3 100/200
L4 150/300
remove T25 chips
L5 200/400
L6 300/600 (optional end re-buys - 33BB)
L7 400/800
L8 600/1200
break (optional end re-buys - 17BB)
L9 800/1600
L10 1100/2200
L11 1500/3000
L12 2000/4000
remove T100/T500 chips
L13 3000/6000
L14 4000/8000 *** typical EOT
L15 6000/12000
L16 8000/16000
L17 10000/20000

So the typical tournament will last no longer than 14-15 blind levels. The assigned blind level times will dicate how long the tournament will last:

15 minute blinds = 3:40 hours plus breaks
20 minute levels = 4:50 hours plus breaks
25 minute levels = 6:00 hours plus breaks

Nothing wrong with blind level times that aren't in increments of 5, either -- if you want the event to last around 4+ hours, use 17 or 18 minute levels.

Note that your structure also finishes in around 14 blind levels. The biggest differences between your structure and the one above is that your structure a) doubles the blinds with a 100% increase right out of the gate, cutting stacks in half in just 15 or 20 minutes, and b) contains a wider range of blind increases -- 25% to 67%, excluding that early 100% jump --averaging over 51% (vs just 40%).

Lastly, @tabletalker7 above offers excellent advice regarding establishing a set of defined tournament rules prior to the event, and referencing/enforcing them during play when needed.
download "Roberts Rules of Poker Version 11"
 

Poker Zombie

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As of this writing (and probably for some time longer, due to COVID precautions) We have taught 57 players how to play poker over the past 11 years. Many have continued to play much, much longer. Before COOVID, our game had grown from 6 players to 20+ each night. at least 4 players drive an hour each way to attend. Nobody drives less than 15 minutes. It's an effort to get here. Yet they still come. Here's what I have learned...

1. Lots of chips. I know you want to keep it economical, but you want players to enjoy their first experience. Give them at least 12 of the smallest denom. I prefer T5 tournaments for beginners, because you can get 15 per player of the smallest denomination in play, and keep it there for an hour. New players have a strong tendency to play very similarly. They limp into every pot, and rarely raise. This allows them to "play", and get a better feel for the "odds". Many players don't mathematically calculate odds, that is why casinos succeed. They prefer to "feel" the odds. Giving them a lot of little chips lets them develop their sea legs.

New players dont look at their stack as a "value" of chips. They look at is as a total number of chips. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone sitting with 2x T5000 chips bemoaning their terrible luck and wishing they were doing as well as the guy with 20x T100s and 3x T1000s. If you give them piles of little chips they feel they are being competitive for much longer.

2. Take breaks. You are there to have fun. We take a break about every hour. This allows new players to openly discuss big hands, and to share strategies. It also counts as time that they spent "playing", where they cannot possibly get felted. In the end, they are paying an entry fee for a fun night. only 2-3 people will make money, so 7 players need an incentive to come back.

3. KNOW THE RULES. Get a copy of the TDA rules and at the very least read the short version. Many will suggest Robert's Rules of Poker but the TDA rules are much shorter and easier to get through. Nobody wants a situation where you have to "make up a rule" where you come out on top.

4. TEACH THE RULES. With new players, you are fighting with movie-instilled poker tactics. Just correct each error as it happens, and explain why it's wrong. If you are reading through the TDA rules and you see something that you think is just a ticky-tacky rule, come back here and ask us. Every rule in the TDA is set to prevent some "loophole" from being exploited. Are your friends short-changing the pot because they are splashing the pot? Probably not, but explaining that splashing the pot prevents accurate counts, and makes re-raises tougher makes everyone feel that they are learning why it could be wrong - if a "friend" gets upset because you point it out, I surmise that they were already thinking about shortchanging the pot.

4. Make sure your starting stack is at least 15 BB 1/2 way through the night. This keeps nits happy as they bleed down, looking for a good hand. It allows aggressive players to play. Keeping people happy for at least 1/2 the night keeps them coming back.

5. Rebuys. Have them pre-set. Ziploc bags work fine. That way you can give them T20,000 more without having to take the time to count out a stack, or by making them take the time to find the change at the table. Giving them a stack that is already playable is far better, but once again, it adds to the cost.

6. Nothing about hosting is economical. Cleaning your house afterwards, replacing broken chairs, providing snacks, who knows what the hell someone just did to your toilet, buying chips, replacing cards, even having a table to play on. The more you spend, the better the game will be. The better the game, the longer it will last. The longer it lasts the better you will get. That's when you start to turn your profit - or at the very least, you hear the great things people say about your games, and that gives you the warm fuzzies.

7. Make it gender friendly. If you/your friends are married, make sure spouses are included in the invite. It's easier for a man to get a "hall pass" for the night if his wife is the one saying "Let's go play some poker!"
 

JustinInMN

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T25, (T25, T100, T500, T1000, T5000)
20K starting stacks (potentially will have bounties)
8/8/6/6/2

320 Chips Total
80x 25
80x 100
60x 500
60x 1000
40x 5000

I do have a preference for the 8/8/4/7 breakdown for a T10K starting stack, but either will work. You can get by with fewer chips on this.

To build a set on this per player you do 8/8/4/7 for the starting stack, plus 1 extra T1000 per player to do the color ups, plus 2 T5000 per player to cover a 100% re-entry rate if you do re-entry

This gives you a total set of 80/80/40/80/20 for 300 chips on the head. That's about the "slimmest" set you can do for a tournament.

To @Poker Zombie and @BGinGA 's point above, a stack of 12/12/5/6 will make for bigger stacks in the early stages. Applying similar logic to build a set here and you get this.

12/12/5/6 per player for starting stacks plus 1.5 T1000 for color ups plus 2 T5000 chips to cover a 100% re-entry rate if you do re-entry

So that makes a set of 120/120/50/75/20 for a set of 385. If you buy in 20s do 120/120/60/80/20 for a total of 400, if you buy in 25s, do 125/125/50/75/25 also for a total of 400.

Or alternatively, if you prefer to introduce T5000 chips at color up you can buy fewer T1000s.

Binds (Is 15 min or 20 min better?)

I really prefer levels of 18-20 minutes. This means if each hand averages about 2 minutes to play, the deal should make it around at least once per level. At 15 minutes ten handed, that won't be the case and maybe this is just me as a player personally, I will perceive play is too slow if the deal doesn't go around once during a level.

My approach to the actual structure is pretty simple, I like to play levels of 2-4, 3-6, 4-8, 6-12, and 8-16 (and optional 12-24 or 16-32, which I like during the T100 stage so T100 and T500 can be colored up at the same time) multiplied by each chip in play. (With optional 1-1, 1-2, or 1-3 levels of the first chip at the start.)

So I would do something like this for base T25.

25-50, 25-75, 50-100, 75-150, 100-200, 150-300 (color up T25, if doing 18 minute levels plus a 12 minute break, this is exactly 2 hours. If 20 min levels, it's 2 hours plus the break)
200-400, 300-600, 400-800, 600-1200, 800-1600, 1200-2400, 1600-3200 (color up T100 and T500)
2000-4000, 3000-6000, 4000-8000, 6000-12000*, 8000-16000 (color up T1000)
10000-20000, 15000-30000, 20000-40000,

*Expected end if 15 entries, 10 players plus 50% re-entry rate.

But yes, now is a good time to experiment!

Good luck.
 

JustinInMN

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My apologies to @Hairy_Crocodile , I just noticed you are looking for T20K starting stacks, while I geared buy suggestions to T10K starting stacks. If that's what you are looking for you just will actually need about 3x the T5000 chips I recommended. You need 2 per player for the starting stack plus 4 per player to accommodate a 100% rebuy rate, instead of just 2 per player to accommodate T10K rebuys. So that would push your totals above the tidy 300 and 400 chip sets I suggested.
 

Hairy_Crocodile

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This is why i love this forum, there is so much to learn, and so many experienced players willing to share their knowledge and 2¢.

I'm going to try and address everyone in order
Rebuys and reentries are totally different. A rebuy is cheap and gives you a new stack. A reentry is basically a busted player buying in as a brand new player, at full price. With this many new people I would avoid both just to make your life as host easier.
Once I start to get the hang of tournaments, and assuming that my playgroup enjoys this style of poker, are re-buys or re-entries healthier for the game? I won't be offering them until I get more experience with the general structure of tournaments. However, I do want to learn more about them so that, when it comes time (and once my friends start asking about it...they like to re-load in cah games a lot, Im sure they'll want the option to get back into the tournament), I know what to do and how to do it. I'm going to be asking this part of the forum a lot of questions over the next few weeks probably, hope you all don't mind. Also, thank you for the suggestion on Roberts Rules of Poker Version 11, I'll check that out for sure
 

Hairy_Crocodile

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@BGinGA Thank you for the detailed write up!! That is incredible, the Barney-style breakdown really helps and I appreciate that. Reading some other posts on the forum regarding structures made no sense to me. It is also nice knowing that these structures can be tweaked and are not rigid as well.

Are T5000 re-buy's the standard for people trying to get back in after getting felted? I've never known if they buy in with full stacks again or receive a percentage of what the original stack was.

I believe I found one of your posts regarding a T5 base tournament as well. 350 chips, T6000 10/10/7/4/3 starting stacks. For starting players, do you think that T5 or T25 is better for us?
 

JustinInMN

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Once I start to get the hang of tournaments, and assuming that my playgroup enjoys this style of poker, are re-buys or re-entries healthier for the game? I won't be offering them until I get more experience with the general structure of tournaments. However, I do want to learn more about them so that, when it comes time (and once my friends start asking about it

I personally like to offer at least a limited number of re-entries to just to avoid the situation where a player travels a long drive and just goes bust on hand 3 with nothing to do. Typically I allow up to two re-entries until the first break. Usually, no one enters more than twice and fewer than half enter more than once. This ensures all players that are willing to enter 3 times will most likely get to play 90 minutes at least.

Are T5000 re-buy's the standard for people trying to get back in after getting felted? I've never known if they buy in with full stacks again or receive a percentage of what the original stack was.

I know many PCFers like to issue rebuys in big chips only. It's easier for the host to count quick and it should be safe to assume because all the chips from the start of play are still on the table, there is a sufficient amount to make change. This makes it easier to plan the number of smaller denominations needed by only planning smaller denominations for initial stacks. If you use a 12/12/5/6/2 starting stack, that's 37 chips total. Would you rather plan an extra 10 of those, or just 4*T5000 chips for 10 players to accommodate reentries?

Well, I feel like a jackass, idk how I hadn't found this post yet. Thank you so much

For whatever reason, PCF search function hates me too. I actually have better luck going into the google and adding the site:pokerchipforum.com parameter in the search box.
 

tabletalker7

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This is why i love this forum, there is so much to learn, and so many experienced players willing to share their knowledge and 2¢.

I'm going to try and address everyone in order

Once I start to get the hang of tournaments, and assuming that my playgroup enjoys this style of poker, are re-buys or re-entries healthier for the game? I won't be offering them until I get more experience with the general structure of tournaments. However, I do want to learn more about them so that, when it comes time (and once my friends start asking about it...they like to re-load in cah games a lot, Im sure they'll want the option to get back into the tournament), I know what to do and how to do it. I'm going to be asking this part of the forum a lot of questions over the next few weeks probably, hope you all don't mind. Also, thank you for the suggestion on Roberts Rules of Poker Version 11, I'll check that out for sure
Rebuys - different people like different things, but I ABSOLUTELY HATE THEM. I have found that rebuys encourage deep pockets to play stupidly because they can just rebuy. Re-entry, well without rebuys people play smarter. The smarter play makes people last longer. While I have nothing against re-entry, by the time someone would need to re-enter it would not be smart to do so since the blinds would be too high for that short a stack. It is up to you how you want to handle these things, but if this is just a small group of friends I would scrap rebuys and reentries and just play cash after the tournament is over.
 

Hairy_Crocodile

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1. Lots of chips. I know you want to keep it economical, but you want players to enjoy their first experience. Give them at least 12 of the smallest denom. I prefer T5 tournaments for beginners, because you can get 15 per player of the smallest denomination in play, and keep it there for an hour. New players have a strong tendency to play very similarly. They limp into every pot, and rarely raise. This allows them to "play", and get a better feel for the "odds". Many players don't mathematically calculate odds, that is why casinos succeed. They prefer to "feel" the odds. Giving them a lot of little chips lets them develop their sea legs.

Do you have a link for a T5 write up? I'm going down the rabbit hole in the search bar after I reply to everyone, but I wanted to ask for recommendations anyway. More opinions gives me more to consider.

I also have noticed these things in my groups, even the players who play a lot more than the rest of the table. My 2 player groups have a lot of similarities:
  • They limp in almost every hand
  • They don't really respect raises unless they are huge. In our cash games, a good chunk of the table will call 3x BB raises and higher pre-flop with mediocre hands and stick with them with no second thought. We see alot of wins with hands like K4o, and people getting the last card they need on the river because they just don't like to fold sometimes.
  • They like to see the flop a lot and then make decisions
  • A lot of checking, so check-raising is really not ever an option. If you give them an opportunity to see a free card, the entire table will check no matter their hand unless its straight gas. Then, if a player raises, the majority of the table will call that raise.
  • Pairs are overvalued, and people tend to chase straights and flushes very heavily. Sometimes, you cant scare them off before their hand materializes and they end up getting it. Trying to raise to force action/isolate players/protect your hand seems to never work, and I have to just play tight and fold to any aggression when they actually show it. I can't really put anyone on a specific range
  • Position isnt considered in decision making
I'm wondering how a tournament structure will change our thinking and game-play. I am in no position to judge whats good/bad play, I just started playing and reading poker theory myself, these are simply things I have noticed. Based off of this play style, your reccomendation for more chips using a T5 may be a good fit starting off.

3. KNOW THE RULES. Get a copy of the TDA rules and at the very least read the short version. Many will suggest Robert's Rules of Poker but the TDA rules are much shorter and easier to get through. Nobody wants a situation where you have to "make up a rule" where you come out on top.
I'll be sure to get on that. I also have a few in a group that just chucks their bets in the middle, no matter how many times I try to correct it. I'm not the host at that place, but I try to make things run smoothly. After last game though, I dont know if I'll return. Most of them weren't paying attention to the game and would spend forever talking and not playing/dealing, would continually splash the pot and complain about me trying to correct it. When people continually are breaking rules and such, I hope I can find in the TDA what is the proper thing to do.

6. Nothing about hosting is economical. Cleaning your house afterwards, replacing broken chairs, providing snacks, who knows what the hell someone just did to your toilet, buying chips, replacing cards, even having a table to play on. The more you spend, the better the game will be. The better the game, the longer it will last. The longer it lasts the better you will get. That's when you start to turn your profit - or at the very least, you hear the great things people say about your games, and that gives you the warm fuzzies.

7. Make it gender friendly. If you/your friends are married, make sure spouses are included in the invite. It's easier for a man to get a "hall pass" for the night if his wife is the one saying "Let's go play some poker!"
6. My main group is great about making the game good for everyone. We all pitch in for beer/food and clean up after ourselves. Once I get a bigger place and start hosting, I know it'll be a chore, but it's worth it. I'm more concerned that I have enough chips for a good game and can accommodate everyone. I'm ok spending some time/money on the experience. Thats what it's all about, playing a great game with friends

7. My buddy brought his sister to pay this Sunday, she may be bringing friends to join this next week. Another friend of ours brings his girlfriend when they have the time to play too. It's really great having a group that's comfortable with each other like that.

Thank you for your response!
 

Hairy_Crocodile

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Rebuys - different people like different things, but I ABSOLUTELY HATE THEM. I have found that rebuys encourage deep pockets to play stupidly because they can just rebuy. Re-entry, well without rebuys people play smarter. The smarter play makes people last longer. While I have nothing against re-entry, by the time someone would need to re-enter it would not be smart to do so since the blinds would be too high for that short a stack. It is up to you how you want to handle these things, but if this is just a small group of friends I would scrap rebuys and reentries and just play cash after the tournament is over.

That's a good point to consider. I'll probably experiment with re-buys if the group really really wants them, but otherwise I'll bring a small cash set for those who wanna play poker still after getting felted.
 

Hairy_Crocodile

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@JustinInMN No need to apologize for your recommendations, I simply was going off of a reccomended structure, and didn't know how the starting stack would change gameplay or what is the "best" breakdown to use (Still kinda lost on the idea). I would assume that shorter stacks make for a more fast-paced event, but understanding what makes each kind of breakdown better or worse is still lost to me. I'm a very visual learner, and things don't really sink in until I actually do the thing. So I'm sure alot of the advice here will click once I try out my first tourney with friends. With so many reccomendations, I'm taking all of yours and printing them out to experiment with. I may do a few events without buy-ins just so i can test without having to risk having something go wrong with people's money on the line
 

TexRex

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Hairy, I'll start by commenting on 3 posts above.

Zombie has a lot of experience with new players. He's right that new players are going to like more chips. You want at least 12 of the smallest 2 denoms in their stack. I've probably played with a T5 structure, but don't remember it, so if I have, it didn't stand out. Starting with T25 is more chip efficient, and I've be inclined to start with T25. I've almost always started mine with T25, but have started with T1. T25 is easier to work with than T1. I'm not sure if new players learn better with T5, but I'd be inclined to start with a chipset designed for more experienced players because if people keep coming, they will get experience fairly quickly. Also, if they are used to T25 from the beginning, it's an easy transition. From a chip buying view, one set is cheaper than 2, but this is a chip forum, so more chips is always a good answer!

The rest of his post is really great advice. We take a big break, 15-20 min, at the 2 hour mark, but take a short 5 min break every hour. Part of that is because of color ups at our 1 and 3 hour marks. We've expanded those breaks to 7 min with COVID to encourage players to wash their hands.

BG's suggested structure is really good. I like it so well all examples I'll give will assume his structure. I like the narrow increases. While the first one is 50%, the rest range of 33-50%, until R17, where it goes up only 25%. Our structure raises blinds from 50-67%. Either will work, as will other structures, but the advantage of consistent increases is it makes predicting end times easier. What makes our aggressive structure work is we start with 400BB. Our tournaments last right around 4 hours, typically 3:40-4:20.

BG doesn't like blinds doubling, and he's right that it cuts a chip stack in half when that happens. That's a bigger problem with 200BB to start than with 400BB to start. I'm not as bothered by it as he is, but I'm not a big fan of doubling the blinds either. It is pretty common between the first and second rounds though. However, it does offer one advantage. A player who shows up late feels the pain pretty quickly, so it does encourage players to get their on time. If you wanted to a deeper chip stack, you could add a 25/50 level to BG's structure. It would likely add only 1 round to your tournaments, 2 at the most. If I did that, I'd still think of it really as a 200BB tournament, with a starting round for those who show up on time appearing to get a lot more. My experience with deep stacks is that players are going to start modestly.

I prefer at least 20 min rounds, especially for 10 players at a table. 25-30 might be even better. We play at a pace of about 2 min/hand, and we move pretty quick. It's ideal if every player has a good chance to sit in every spot at least once a round. 15 min to me only works with about 7 players. Our pace is faster than almost every other game I've played in. One reason is I have 2 dedicated dealers that alternate each hand, so we are starting the next hand very quickly (usually immediately) after the pot is shoved to the winner and the cards gathered. Most self-dealt games I've been in are closer to 2.5 min a hand, that that's a much slower pace. You could turn a great structure into a lousy structure with blind levels that are 2 short. With BG's structure, even 15 min blinds still makes for a good tournament, but 20 minutes is a much better structure. He's also right about not being in 5 min increments. I'd have at least 2 min per round per player. Determine your play rate. You can estimate it by knowing how much of an orbit you get through per blind round. If you have 10 players, and typically play 20 minutes, but only 8 hands in a round, your pace is 2:30 per hand. That will through off a lot of other calculations. I've written on this in the past, but don't have time to point to the specific spot. What that means though is 25 min per round will play the same as 20 min per round at 2 min a hand. Most people don't calculate for pace of play, but it is a factor in how long your tournament will last.

For re-buy stacks, you could go the 3xT5000 and 5xT1000, or even 2xT5000 and 10xT1000. BG's structure has the T1000s being used throughout, at least to R17. For a 400 chip set, I like his numbers, but I'd also plan on your game growing. I'd plan on your structure changing by either using more starting chips, or more players. If you could go to 500 chips, I'd put the others in T1000s and T5000s. The flexibility is nice. It gives you a chance to have a big event. See my comment above about more chips. Here's a hint. Every game is growing or dying. If you never get more than 10, your game is dying. You need to get more players. The same 10 -- one will have a baby, and their whole like will change. One will change jobs, have illness in the family, move, etc. For these reasons, you should get a set that will accommodate more players, and always be recruiting new players. If your house can't really accommodate more than 1 table, that's a different matter, but there might be ways to get creative on that.

Table Talker doesn't like re-buys. Our group is more like him, but he stated it in the strongest terms (HATES them). I've polled players for years, and we had for years about 25% that wouldn't play with re-buys, and a small percentage to LOVE them. However, I've played in games where I was the only player who didn't care for them. Every group is different. Around 20% of our games are a re-buy, and not likely to ever rise much above that number. There is an alternative that might work. You didn't say what your buy-in is, so I'm going to make up $10 so you get the idea. You could offer a re-buy like this. Starting stack 20K is $10. Re-buys are $5 or $10, but you have the option of taking it up front and starting with a 40K stack, or getting a second stack when felted, and of not used before, it becomes an add-on at the end of the re-buy period. If someone re-bought at R7, that's only 25BB. If you do it on the front end, it wouldn't add as much time to tournament as you might think -- only 1-2 rounds. I suspect with BG's structure your tournament without re-buys would really end around R14.

Zombie points out that a player who drives a long way and gets KO'd on the 3rd hand might feel stuck. That's a good reason for doing re-buys, especially if they drive a long way. There is no right or wrong on re-buys -- but there are strong opinions. Knowing what your group likes matters.

I mentioned the game growing. I always plan on buying enough chips for 33-50% more players than I think we will actually have, and I get a much higher number of higher value chips than most suggest. It creates an amazingly flexible chip set. So while I use T25, we've done T100 chips. If you get the minimum number of chips, make sure you get readily available chips so you can get more when you need more. It's much cheaper to add to your existing set than get a new set. Nothing wrong with multiple sets, but if cash outlay is an issue to start with, getting a second set is a much bigger deal.

A lot of players like high starting chip values. Example: I used to start with 25K chips and 500BB. Now we start with 40K chips, but 400BB. I got a lot of positive comments about the bigger starting stacks. I'm still scratching my head over that. They really aren't bigger because chip stacks should be measured by blinds, not a total number. However, perception counts.

What your players like matters. For years I did freeze outs only because so many players hated re-buys. Yet, I played in 2 other games with re-buys, and as I got more players from those games, my group's player mix changed. I introduced re-buys slowly, and limit them to 1, but do it primarily to make games different so it isn't the same every time. I think variety is the spice of life. There is something to be said for a game that is always the same, but variation within your group's limits can work well.

To me, the best structures are those that favor stronger players. Deeper stacks and more time helps the better players. But they give lesser players the feeling that it's a great deal. Keeping donators (I don't call them losers) happy and in the game will keep your game alive. Chase the donators out, and your game will die.
 

JustinInMN

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Table Talker doesn't like re-buys. Our group is more like him, but he stated it in the strongest terms (HATES them). I've polled players for years, and we had for years about 25% that wouldn't play with re-buys, and a small percentage to LOVE them.

Zombie points out that a player who drives a long way and gets KO'd on the 3rd hand might feel stuck. That's a good reason for doing re-buys, especially if they drive a long way. There is no right or wrong on re-buys

Honestly, if I started a tournament where I intended no rebuys and someone that drove an hour to be here gets beat on hand 3, I think the players are going to all insist I allow a re-entry. But it is group dependent.

I think limiting re-entries is a decent counter to the deep-pocket complaint and you can keep the buy in low enough so players are comfortable going in for 2-3 shells in advance. (And to a lesser extent, limiting re-entry also has a practical effect of ensuring you won't exceed the capacity of your tournament set.)

I remember a point in history where rebuy tournaments were kept artificially low to ensure the deepest players would go 8-10 buy ins deep on purpose, which is why I think some of those hard feelings are still around and part of the anti-rebuy sentiment. I think full re-entry with a limit per player is the best middle ground.
 
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Poker Zombie

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That's a good point to consider. I'll probably experiment with re-buys if the group really really wants them, but otherwise I'll bring a small cash set for those who wanna play poker still after getting felted.
Rebuys - different people like different things, but I ABSOLUTELY HATE THEM. I have found that rebuys encourage deep pockets to play stupidly because they can just rebuy. Re-entry, well without rebuys people play smarter. The smarter play makes people last longer. While I have nothing against re-entry, by the time someone would need to re-enter it would not be smart to do so since the blinds would be too high for that short a stack. It is up to you how you want to handle these things, but if this is just a small group of friends I would scrap rebuys and reentries and just play cash after the tournament is over.
I have found that the best way to have rebuys is to limit it to 1 per player. We used to have a Deep Pocketed player that was putting a damper on the fun, as he would jam-rebuy way too often for my (at the time) broke-ass player pool. So we limited it to just 1 rebuy per player. Since a number of my players travel a great distance to get here (one flew in from Buffalo just for a game, and another scheduled her vacation around our game), I would hate for a bad-beat in the first 20 minutes to send someone home.

It's possible to get KO'ed twice in that first hour, but it's uncommon. To date, it has occured 11 times in the past 56 events.
 
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Hairy_Crocodile

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Would it be wise to buy more than 400 chips to support 2 tables then for down the road insurance?
Especially if I am considering getting a custom set down the road? Id hate to buy 400 customs and then not have enough for more players (assuming I ever got more than 10)

@TexRex
 

tabletalker7

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Would it be wise to buy more than 400 chips to support 2 tables then for down the road insurance?
Especially if I am considering getting a custom set down the road? Id hate to buy 400 customs and then not have enough for more players (assuming I ever got more than 10)

@TexRex
I saw your other post. If your customs are ceramics then don't worry about it. Ceramics are just a design printed on special paper and dye sulmilation gets the design on the blank chip. They are made to order (even the stock designs). You order some ceramics and they print them up. Later on you need more, just order more and they print them up again. No biggie.
 

Natskule

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Honestly, if I started a tournament where I intended no rebuys and someone that drove an hour to be here gets beat on hand 3, I think the players are going to all insist I allow a re-entry. But it is group dependent.

I think limiting re-entries is a decent counter to the deep-pocket complaint and you can keep the buy in low enough so players are comfortable going in for 2-3 shells in advance. (And to a lesser extent, limiting re-entry also has a practical effect of ensuring you won't exceed the capacity of your tournament set.)

I remember a point in history where rebuy tournaments were kept artificially low to ensure the deepest players would go 8-10 buy ins deep on purpose, which is why I think some of those hard feelings are still around and part of the anti-rebuy sentiment. I think full re-entry with a limit per player is the best middle ground.
I usually do 1 rebuy, for the same reason. Especially if some folks carpool, sucks to get knocked out and sit there for 2 hours waiting for a ride.

I also agree that I think bad feelings about rebuys are the cheap unlimited rebuy tournaments where folks shove nonstop trying to build a stalk. Personally I love those, they can be a $50 tournament for $10, but that's not what this thread is about.

One thing I've had luck with as far as splashing the pot, which I hate, but people see it on tv and in movies all the time. Let them know that it's for their own protection. If your bet is clearly sitting in front of you, it's easier for other people to see it, and no one can claim you didn't put that amount in. Multiple raises when folks splash the pot just makes a mess. The clearer everyone communicates the smoother the game will go. Same with folds, cards go in the muck, don't let folks hang on to their cards, slows the game down as bettors don't know who is in and who is out. Clear communication from visual clues makes the game smoother and more enjoyable for all.
 

TexRex

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Hairy, I would buy more. I bought a used set of custom labeled stock chips for a 1 table tournament. Before then, my chips were cheap and plain. I think I used them twice before our game expanded. Then I played in a group where there were 3 co-hosts. Naturally I couldn’t find the stock chip, but the labels were trademarked. I’d bought them at a poker store, and took them back and traded them in. I think I got about ¼ of what I’d paid for them. I honestly didn’t even think about our game expanding.

I bought 1200 Super Diamonds with denoms hot-stamped on them. That was my set for a while, but our game grew even more. Honestly I didn’t like that set, but I was one of the few that had denominations on my chips. That was really the only thing I liked about them.

As a practical matter, where I live I could host a game for up to 30 (3 tables of up to 10). I bought some Nexgen Pros. They are, or at least were then, readily available. I bought them in 2 batches, and even bought some blanks that I labeled (for seating chips – cheap and easy!).

In the space of 2 years, I went from single table to 3 tables. I never expected that to happen. It was during a poker boom. I now have 3 tournament sets that were designed for 30 players, but could be expanded to 45 players in a crunch. Now days I limit my game to 2 tables and nor more than 9 per table.

I have 2 sets of group buy China clays with custom labels on them, and 1 set of ceramics (which I’d sell). I personally prefer China clays to ceramics. Ceramics have the advantage of being completely customizable. Ceramics are nice, but just not my preference.

The next step up would either be true custom clay chips, but I think only one company makes them, or some used Paulsons or something in that class. I personally doubt I’ll ever do either.

I’m not a fan of commercially available chips. The Nexgen Pros were commercially available. If anyone can readily obtain chips like yours, there is at least the possibility that someone would bring chips into your game. Maybe I’m more paranoid about that than most, but I’ve seen that happen; it hasn’t happened in my game though. Now it would be extremely difficult. They’d have to get both the mold and get custom labels printed, and the people that did the labels for me put the labels on in a certain way, so if they did that randomly, it would be obvious to me very quickly.

I think most people give advice based on their experience. If I bought another chip set now, I realize that I would buy for fewer players – maybe 20 expandable to 30.

Another issue is I started off with a freeze out with 10K starting chips. Today ours are 40K starting chips, with some re-buys, and one re-buy tournament a year with 125K or 150K starting stacks. If you haven’t done this yet, use a chip calculator to help. I’d always count on your stacks increasing.

One reason my stacks increases is I played in another game where they started with 15K, and had a re-buy. I like how that worked, I was using the 1200 Super Diamonds, but I’d had the foresight to plan on much deeper stacks. And they are readily available and I could easily have gotten more of them. So I played with a wide variety of possible stack sizes with a calculator.

I’m happy to share the chip calculator I created in Excel with anyone. It’s probably no better than other chip calculators, but it’s very easy to use and you can create a lot of scenarios and compare them. I compared stacks starting from ¼ (idea from BG) to starting with T100s. My ceramic set could start at anything from T1 or T5 (only 1 table of 10 for those), T25 or T100 (up to 4 tables of 10). I didn’t test starting at T500, which is now a thing I guess, but it would easily be done. I compared completely coloring up the T25s with T100s, even though I don’t do that, just so I’d know how many chips that would take.

I then looked at the most chips I’d need for what I was trying to do. For example, staring with T100 meant I needed more T100s than when I started with T25. I also went one denom higher than I really thought I needed. I use T25,000s in a lot of tournaments, but I also have T100,000s that I rarely use. But by having both, I have a very flexible set.

That is how I did it. My China clay sets have 1,600 and 1,700 chips.

I’d also suggest using denoms on the chips. That makes life easier – now I wouldn’t even see chips without denoms as playable.

If you will PM me your email, I’ll email you some info you might find helpful. I have “General Lessons from Custom Chip Sets” and “Twelve Rules for Determining the Number of Tournament Chips” that are about 4 pages – too long for this Forum all at once. I could send you chip reviews of my China clays, ceramics, and the Nexgen Pros that I wrote. I think I've written 35-40 pages on various chip issues I'm happy to share.

I will also send you my chip calculator, and at least one other spreadsheet you might find helpful.
 

Poker Zombie

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That's a good point to consider. I'll probably experiment with re-buys if the group really really wants them, but otherwise I'll bring a small cash set for those who wanna play poker still after getting felted.
A cash game following the tournament is pretty common. However, I rarely allow a cash game afterwards. Remember the deep pocketed player that can harm a tournament with constant rebuys? He will do the same thing in a cash game. What's more, unless there is a lot on the line, he may have little to no respect for the tournament because cash games can be more financially rewarding for a player that can intimidate his opponents with unlimited funds.

This may not be an issue right now with the way your group plays, but it is wise to always keep an eye toward the future.
 

Poker Zombie

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Would it be wise to buy more than 400 chips to support 2 tables then for down the road insurance?
Especially if I am considering getting a custom set down the road? Id hate to buy 400 customs and then not have enough for more players (assuming I ever got more than 10)

@TexRex
Also +1 to buying all you think you will ever need. My first set wasn't big enough once the game grew. Unfortunately, companies close up shop, and replacements aren't available. My earliest set is now comprised of chips from 3 different manufacturers, and it drives me crazy. Every set since then has been "too many" chips. With my largest set I can host 33 players.

I only own 26 chairs.
 

CrazyEddie

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Well, I feel like a jackass, idk how I hadn't found this post yet. Thank you so much
Another post to add to the list for when I go down the rabbit hole after I'm done replying to everyone here!
Definitely don't feel that way! I dug through the forum archives for a month before I ever joined and started posting, and I still encounter old threads that are a) extremely informative and b) I had no idea existed.

There's a lot of collective knowledge about this hobby to digest. Don't try to eat it all in one bite.
 

JustinInMN

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I bought 1200 Super Diamonds with denoms hot-stamped on them. That was my set for a while, but our game grew even more. Honestly I didn’t like that set, but I was one of the few that had denominations on my chips. That was really the only thing I liked about them.

Super diamonds were my first foray into "serious" hosting too. In college, 6 of us were renting a house and I hosted poker every Sunday night in the basement. I did T10K starting stacks in a 20/20/15 breakdown, I had over 1000 of these chips and they were like $5/rack then :). Plus I bought racks too. So I am a little sentimental about my super diamonds. I sold them on ebay after getting married for like $30 in 2011.

I’m not a fan of commercially available chips. The Nexgen Pros were commercially available. If anyone can readily obtain chips like yours, there is at least the possibility that someone would bring chips into your game. Maybe I’m more paranoid about that than most,

I'm less paranoid about this in tournaments. Yes a player doing this is cheating, but tournament chips are not redeemable for cash, so there's no extra risk to the banker as it would be in cash sets. Even slipping in a few twenty-fives gets risky. I think customs for cash is a must. Customs for tournament is good, but probably not as damaging to have stock chips.
 

CrazyEddie

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Since this is a thread for beginners: I'm curious as to why most people (here on PCF, anyway) so strongly dislike large jumps between levels. I don't play or host tournaments myself, so there's probably something visceral that I'm missing.

I expect that when my game nights resume post-pandemic, I'll occasionally run turbos as novelties rather than having long dedicated tournament sessions. I had been looking at some schedules with very short rounds and very high level jumps in order to fit a STT into a short timeslot similar to online sit-and-go games. Obviously that goes against the typical recommendations here. But what's the downside to having wide levels?
 

JustinInMN

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so strongly dislike large jumps between levels. I don't play or host tournaments myself, so there's probably something visceral that I'm missing.

The bigger the jumps the less opportunity for "skill" to impact the result as larger blinds relative to stacks force decisions. For a simple example, doubling blinds makes everyone's stack worth exactly half of what it was before the change in terms of the number of big-blinds. So the preference is for a much more gradual approach. Tournaments, must increase blinds, because tournaments must eliminate players by design until there is one winner, so blinds have to go up somewhat obviously. I think the WSOP has about the most gradual structure that is practical to this end. On the other hand, there are casinos that just run tournaments that double the blind every level and force players to get their chips in the middle after a few levels and hope to be lucky.

Hope that clarifies some.
 

Poker Zombie

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Since this is a thread for beginners: I'm curious as to why most people (here on PCF, anyway) so strongly dislike large jumps between levels. I don't play or host tournaments myself, so there's probably something visceral that I'm missing.

I expect that when my game nights resume post-pandemic, I'll occasionally run turbos as novelties rather than having long dedicated tournament sessions. I had been looking at some schedules with very short rounds and very high level jumps in order to fit a STT into a short timeslot similar to online sit-and-go games. Obviously that goes against the typical recommendations here. But what's the downside to having wide levels?
Depending on stack sizes, large jumps are OK. You have to look at is as a % of the stack. In a terrible casino structure you start with 200BB. At the first level, you have 100BB, then the next level you have 50BB. Level 4 25BB. 4 levels in and you are getting short stacked. That's low-dollar casino play though. It's practically gambling with more luck than skill.

It's not that way if you start with 1000 BB. Each jump may cut your stack in half, but it also leaves you with plenty of time to pick your spots.

The worst are little 25-33% jumps with a 100% jump thrown in. It's hard to adjust for the sudden loss of 1/2 your stack.

Another downside to big jumps is it gives the first player to have to pay the BB in a new level a perceived disadvantage.

I use all kinds of blind structures. Some are slow, some are fast. All are designed to end the tournament in 4.5 hours, but they possess very different "feels". The Big Jump tournament encourages more action, because people start off with a crap-ton of Big Blinds. They can get splashy. When the blinds increase, the mood is already set to "splashy", so it's hard to pull back. We get more rebuys on that structure than any other.
 
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