Thought Experiment: When to Add Bonus Chips in a Tournament (1 Viewer)

Moxie Mike

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Scenario: Season 8 of the Moxie Poker League wraps up tomorrow with a season-ending freezeout. Starting stack: 40,000 chips. Blinds start at 100/200. No antes. Expecting 18 players tomorrow.

Players accumulate points based on their regular season performance which equate to 'bonus chips' for the championship game. Players who perform well will usually have a substantial number of bonus chips. As a point of reference, see below.

RANKPLAYERStarting Stack Add-On
1Nolan53,000
2Kathy the Destroyer32,500
3Stiletto Sandie33,500
4Moxie Mike41,500
5StormCloud33,000
6Queen Alexis29,500
6JD28,500
8Hardcore Bob23,750
9Iron Mike25,500
9Martin25,000
11Cowboy Kurt25,500
12Rick17,750
13Dave à Trois20,000
14Bob Morris16,000
15Moyer14,500
16North Pole Troll9,000
16Crown Royal Dave13,000
18Stets8,000
19Hitchcock Blonde Lavonne10,000
20Vee8,000
21Peachy Patti4,000
21Chad4,000
23Keene2,000
23Jerry2,000
25Steve V0
25The Asian Sensation0

The way it works is a player can choose to take their bonus chips at the beginning of the tournament, or at any point later on, including if they're felted, making their bonus chips a de-facto rebuy. All bonus chips must be added all at once.

So the question is, when is the optimal point to add your bonus chips to your stack? Personally, with a sizable amount I'll keep mine in reserve in case I bust. But supposed someone makes a deep run... the longer a player waits to add them the less their worth.

It's kind of a no-brainer to add them if you get felted or shortstacked early. But what if that situation doesn't happen? The number of big blinds the bonus chips represents most become a factor at some point, right? So when to add them? When they represent 20 BBs? 10 BBs?

Let's see if we can get an interesting discussion going. Tagging @upNdown @BGinGA @DrStrange for their tournament-hosting experience.

Requisite pron:

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Unless there are bounties in play, the answer is unquestionably “as late as possible”

If there are bounties in play it’s an interesting trade-off between the value of covering people and the sacrifice of unoptimally using your add-on early.
 
(FWIW, I play tournaments but I mostly only host cash)
If I’m hero and I’ve got a full starting stack in reserve, I’m definitely reserving them for later, and probably coming out of the gates going after a lot of pots. I don’t care much about having a big stack or even effective stack sizes in the early stages of a tournament because I’m not looking to get it all in and double up when it’s early.

So when to take them? Well I’m initially viewing them as a re-entry. I guess I wouldn’t wait until they’re worth 10 bigs or probably even 20. It would depend on how things go I guess. Because I’d ideally like to stay above 40bb for maximum flexibility. But say I dropped to like 15 or 20 bigs and those bonus chips were worth 30-40 bigs? In that case I’d probably play the short stack and keep the reserve in reserve.
I don’t know if that makes sense.
But I love this concept, and I wouldn’t try to box myself in with the perfect plan. I’d be confident in my ability so play the tournament and adjust as necessary.
 
I am not a fan of a system where the strongest players reap the greatest rewards. I believe it discourages players near the bottom from participating.

As far as when is the optimal point to put your bonus chips into play, I break with the consensus view. I am definitely putting the bonus chips into play early rather than late for a host of reasons. (IMO, there should be a cut-off time, as there is with re-buys, that forces players to bring their chips into play.)

The number of big blinds the bonus chips represents most become a factor at some point, right? So when to add them?

Thinking solely in terms of the number of big blinds is somewhat flawed. Having a larger stack that gives you an advantage over your opponents should be the focus.
 
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the answer is unquestionably “as late as possible”

.... the sacrifice of unoptimally using your add-on early.
I totally disagree with ^ this theory. Not necessarily saying it's wrong, but just one with which I strongly disagree... and I've not seen any proof that it is correct.

In circumstances similar to the OP's scenario, I now always opt to start with the maximum number of chips available to me.

To me, it's simple economics -- reserving chips for later use diminishes their value (as measured in current BBs at time of use), while also limiting the total amount of playing time that they are/can be useful.
 
I totally disagree with ^ this theory. Not necessarily saying it's wrong, but just one with which I strongly disagree... and I've not seen any proof that it is correct.

In circumstances similar to the OP's scenario, I now always opt to start with the maximum number of chips available to me.

To me, it's simple economics -- reserving chips for later use diminishes their value (as measured in current BBs at time of use), while also limiting the total amount of playing time that they are/can be useful.
I remember having a discussion about this when on here super high roller bowl did a similar format. 2018 SHRB V. I think it could have been you on the other side but not sure.

Of the 36 entries, only one, Rick Salomon, chose to buy in before either felted or at the end of the add-on period. The other 35 out of 36 added on as late as possible. Rick Salomon admittedly was day 1 chipleader, but I still am going to go with the 35/36. Sorry Rick.
 
I remember having a discussion about this when on here super high roller bowl did a similar format. 2018 SHRB V. I think it could have been you on the other side but not sure.

Of the 36 entries, only one, Rick Salomon, chose to buy in before either felted or at the end of the add-on period. The other 35 out of 36 added on as late as possible. Rick Salomon admittedly was day 1 chipleader, but I still am going to go with the 35/36. Sorry Rick.
Nope, wasn't me.

And I'm well aware of the heavy preference of the high rollers deciding to wait until forced to add on. I just think they're wrong. :D
 
Of the 36 entries, only one, Rick Salomon, chose to buy in before either felted or at the end of the add-on period. The other 35 out of 36 added on as late as possible. Rick Salomon admittedly was day 1 chipleader, but I still am going to go with the 35/36. Sorry Rick.

Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.
 
I like the idea of using them when they are worth 30-40 BB's. Later than that and it feels like kind of a waste.
 
Unless there are bounties in play.
No bounties.
Don't ask me - my player pool hates tournament style games. I have nothing useful to offer except for ignorance as I haven't hosted a multi-table event in six or seven years.
Well... the main reason I host tournaments is to recruit players for my cash games - nice to see you've achieved the dream #lifegoals

I remember having a discussion about this when on here super high roller bowl did a similar format.
Ha. I think that's actually how I came up with the idea. IIRC, the High Roller gave players 3 bullets they could use as they saw fit. Most kept theirs in reserve.

I like the idea of using them when they are worth 30-40 BB's. Later than that and it feels like kind of a waste.

One thing I forgot to mention is that several players are not going to make it tomorrow, including Nolan (the top performer) and 2 other top ten finishers. Assuming everyone shows up, there should be about 1mm chips in play once everyone has added on.

So by your logic, everyone should have taken their add on by round 5, when the blinds are 500/1000. This is interesting but what if a player already has ~100k in their stack at this point? Shouldn't they hold out a little longer?

I think the prevailing logic is that the longer you can wait, the better off you are.

Since poker tournaments inevitably become a war of attrition, I wasn't sure if there is an optimal point at which the chips become more valuable. For example, at round 13, the BB is 10,000, meaning there will only be about 100 BBs on the table. Depending on how many players are left, having 4 BBs in reserve to add might actually be at least a little bit significant.
 
I remember having a discussion about this when on here super high roller bowl did a similar format. 2018 SHRB V. I think it could have been you on the other side but not sure.

I think that's actually how I came up with the idea. IIRC, the High Roller gave players 3 bullets they could use as they saw fit. Most kept theirs in reserve.

One thing I forgot to mention is that several players are not going to make it tomorrow, including Nolan (the top performer) and 2 other top ten finishers. Assuming everyone shows up, there should be about 1mm chips in play once everyone has added on.

So by your logic, everyone should have taken their add on by round 5, when the blinds are 500/1000. This is interesting but what if a player already has ~100k in their stack at this point? Shouldn't they hold out a little longer?

I think the prevailing logic is that the longer you can wait, the better off you are.

The Super High Roller you referenced and your league tournament are two different beasts in terms of strategy, structure and duration of play.

Another key difference is in the Super High Roller event all of the players possessed the same number of chips from the outset and there was a deadline on when they had to put the chips into play.

In your tournament, the strongest players are the ones who have the bonus chips. Assuming that as the host, the bonus chip system doesn't favor you, you are near the top of the food chain. In a fortunate twist, Nolan and a couple of other top tier players can't make it.

This is really a no brainer. Start with 55K or 56.5K, and keep the rest in reserve if that makes you feel comfortable. You want to bring those chips into play before their value is reduced to ten big blinds.

Good luck, run good.
 
I am not a fan of a system where the strongest players reap the greatest rewards.
The Super High Roller you referenced and your league tournament are two different beasts in terms of strategy, structure and duration of play.
Are you just in a mood to argue? I don't know what either of these remarks have to do with the discussion.

In your tournament, the strongest players are the ones who have the bonus chips. Assuming that as the host, the bonus chip system doesn't favor you, you are near the top of the food chain. In a fortunate twist, Nolan and a couple of other top tier players can't make it.

This is really a no brainer. Start with 55K or 56.5K, and keep the rest in reserve if that makes you feel comfortable. You want to bring those chips into play before their value is reduced to ten big blinds.
Did you read the original post or just skim it?

4Moxie Mike41,500

The way it works is a player can choose to take their bonus chips at the beginning of the tournament, or at any point later on, including if they're felted, making their bonus chips a de-facto rebuy. All bonus chips must be added all at once.
 
I am not a fan of a system where the strongest players reap the greatest rewards. I believe it discourages players near the bottom from participating.
So let me give you an explanation that might be satisfactory.

There are 5 ways to earn bonus chips: wins, top 3's, bounties collected, players outranked in the standings and finishing #1 all earn bonus chips. So a player like "Dave à Trois" who played in all 6 regular season events but didn't have that great of a season (zero cashes I think) still receives a decent number of bonus chips because of his bounties and the fact that he outranked half of the field because he consistently participated.

So while the system is definitely designed to reward the players who had the strongest performances in the regular season, it also has a lot of built in equity for players who consistently show up.
 
This is really a no brainer. Start with 55K or 56.5K, and keep the rest in reserve if that makes you feel comfortable. You want to bring those chips into play before their value is reduced to ten big blinds.
I see from Mike’s post (and the rules) that this might be moot. But do you think it’s important to start out having everybody else covered? I really don’t think so, but I guess I’ve never really put very much thought into it.
 
So let me give you an explanation that might be satisfactory.

There are 5 ways to earn bonus chips: wins, top 3's, bounties collected, players outranked in the standings and finishing #1 all earn bonus chips. So a player like "Dave à Trois" who played in all 6 regular season events but didn't have that great of a season (zero cashes I think) still receives a decent number of bonus chips because of his bounties and the fact that he outranked half of the field because he consistently participated.

So while the system is definitely designed to reward the players who had the strongest performances in the regular season, it also has a lot of built in equity for players who consistently show up.
FWIW, I don’t have a problem with the strongest players getting the biggest advantage, because it isn’t an ongoing, snowballing sort of advantage - it’s only an advantage for one single event. Anything can happen on any given day, and nobody is obligated to play, so I think it’s fine.
 
FWIW, I don’t have a problem with the strongest players getting the biggest advantage, because it isn’t an ongoing, snowballing sort of advantage - it’s only an advantage for one single event. Anything can happen on any given day, and nobody is obligated to play, so I think it’s fine.
Yeah man it's more of a social event before we break for the holiday. We take money out of the prize pool (that we collect throughout the season) for catering and all the adult beverages are provided courtesy of my consulting business. So while it's a competitive game, let's not conflate what we're doing with game 7 of the WSOP :)
 
Are you just in a mood to argue? I don't know what either of these remarks have to do with the discussion.

Did you read the original post or just skim it?

I gave unsolicited feedback for future consideration based on my experience at running a league. Drawing the distinction between your tournament and the Super High Roller event you drew inspiration from is important in this instance.

Most of my attention was on the Miami/Bills game tonight. I am guiltily of missing or forgetting the part where all the bonus chips had to be added at once. Makes sense that you should have it that way. Moose and Mr. Cheese hit on the two aspects that are the most important IMO when deciding at what point you want to put your bonus chips in to play.

Add on when approximately half the table covers you.
I like the idea of using them when they are worth 30-40 BB's. Later than that and it feels like kind of a waste.

-- You want to have a chip-stack that is at parity with the other players and you don't want to hold on to your chips to the point where they give you little flexibility.

We can draw various scenarios, but as long as you focus on those two things and make your decision accordingly, you should come out good.
 
The way it works is a player can choose to take their bonus chips at the beginning of the tournament, or at any point later on, including if they're felted, making their bonus chips a de-facto rebuy. All bonus chips must be added all at once.

So the question is, when is the optimal point to add your bonus chips to your stack? Personally, with a sizable amount I'll keep mine in reserve in case I bust. But supposed someone makes a deep run... the longer a player waits to add them the less their worth.

The issue you took with my post advising that you to "start with 55K or 56.5K, and keep the rest in reserve' is minor and can be easily modified by holding back your bonus chips - if that makes you feel comfortable - until their value is reduced to ten to fifteen BB's. At such a time the field will have thinned and you will be able to assess the dynamics of the game and make an informed decision regarding the best course of action.

At some point, the playing field should be levelled so that the term freeze-out applies to everyone, not just a few. Open ended "de-facto rebuys" for some compounds the advantage of having bonus chips. The term "starting stack add-on" becomes a misnomer.
 
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So let me give you an explanation that might be satisfactory.

There are 5 ways to earn bonus chips: wins, top 3's, bounties collected, players outranked in the standings and finishing #1 all earn bonus chips. So a player like "Dave à Trois" who played in all 6 regular season events but didn't have that great of a season (zero cashes I think) still receives a decent number of bonus chips because of his bounties and the fact that he outranked half of the field because he consistently participated.

So while the system is definitely designed to reward the players who had the strongest performances in the regular season, it also has a lot of built in equity for players who consistently show up.
I’m still not coming to your final if I’m starting short stacked like the breakdown you posted. 13th on are at a huge disadvantage from the start. Nope.
 
I’m still not coming to your final if I’m starting short stacked like the breakdown you posted. 13th on are at a huge disadvantage from the start. Nope.
No one starts short stacked. The starting stack is 200 BBs.

We had 17 players. I elected to keep my bonus chips in reserve but never needed them. I ran well and had the table covered most of the night. I ended up adding them to my stack when the blinds were 2000/4000 - repping 10 BBs.
 
No one starts short stacked. The starting stack is 200 BBs.

We had 17 players. I elected to keep my bonus chips in reserve but never needed them. I ran well and had the table covered most of the night. I ended up adding them to my stack when the blinds were 2000/4000 - repping 10 BBs.
First - 93k
13th 60k
Half the field has a huge advantage in chips. Regardless of how it’s played, I’m not ever buying into this.

Difference of opinion is all
 
I’m surprised that no one was close to the correct answer. Is it just rampant misunderstanding of how and why chips lose a lot of their value throughout the tournament? It has nothing to do with the blinds. Chip value don’t depend on the blinds.
 
I’m surprised that no one was close to the correct answer. Is it just rampant misunderstanding of how and why chips lose a lot of their value throughout the tournament? It has nothing to do with the blinds. Chip value don’t depend on the blinds.
Care to expand?
 
Care to expand?
Sure yea so when blinds go up, the total chips in play before and after are same, the total prize pool before and after are the same, so the chips are worth the same amount. The blinds are not a factor in chip value.

The things that does affect chip value are payouts…when a payout happens the total chips in play are the same but the prize pool is reduced (because someone took money out of it).

You still would not want to use your add-on before payouts unless forced by getting stacked or by tournament rule. Your add-on is going to dilute in value due to payouts whether it’s in your stack or behind your stack. You would prefer to play with very little ICM pressure in what would otherwise be heavy ICM situations.

Don’t add on until felted, or until it’s heads up. Even if your add-on now represents <1 bb.
 
Sure yea so when blinds go up, the total chips in play before and after are same, the total prize pool before and after are the same, so the chips are worth the same amount. The blinds are not a factor in chip value.

The things that does affect chip value are payouts…when a payout happens the total chips in play are the same but the prize pool is reduced (because someone took money out of it).

You still would not want to use your add-on before payouts unless forced by getting stacked or by tournament rule. Your add-on is going to dilute in value due to payouts whether it’s in your stack or behind your stack. You would prefer to play with very little ICM pressure in what would otherwise be heavy ICM situations.

Don’t add on until felted, or until it’s heads up. Even if your add-on now represents <1 bb.
I’ve been thinking about this and it actually makes a lot of sense, you just maybe used too many words to get there.
Simply put, the ability to have chips behind when you’re in the money is significant. I hadn’t considered it because I’ve never been there - normally you can’t rebuy once payouts have begun.
Now whether that’s worth more than using the chips earlier in the tournament (to help you build a bigger stack for when you get to the money,). I still think that’s a fair debate.
But I would agree that you don’t want to use the chips in the beginning or the early stages. “As late as possible” seemed like nonsense if it’s when they’re worth half a blind. But if that half a blind keeps you alive and gives you a chance to ladder up - yup, there’s something to that.
 

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