What am I doing wrong? Home game help.

wan.7

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Hi guys, looking for a bit of wisdom from you more experienced home game players.
I host a once a month game, tournament style with some friends. All very casual and friendly with a low buy in, it's about having fun more than trying to win (but it's still fun to win).
Anyway, it's usually better 4-8 players, each player starts with 2000 worth of chips. Then blinds progress as follows:
5/10
10/25
25/50
50/100
100/200
200/500 (cap)

Blinds go up every hour.

The trouble is, at the start of the game money moves back and forth, people go up and down but the money always tends to move around pretty evenly so that by the time blinds get to 500 all players are still in and everyone is still sitting on around their 2000 buy in. So then the last 30 mins or so of the games decides the winner moreso than the 4 or 5 hours preceding it. Once the blinds are 1/4 of your buy in, seeing 4 flops that go nowhere sees you out of the game, and it's rarely in spectacular fashion, it's quite often boring, going all-in pre-flop just because you have to and it's all just luck.

Am I doing something wrong with the blinds? Should I have more/less chips?? Should a change the times of blinds?

Trying to make it a bit more exciting, what can I do?

Thanks, Matthew.
 

Jonesey07

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In a word, scrap.

First question is are your chips denominated and how many of each chip are available? Are you offering add-ons or rebuys during this event?
 

RoyalBluff

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I'm not an expert but have been part of a home game league for roughly 10 years now. The chip and blind structure is similar to yours but I think 1 hour for every blind level is too long. This is our tourney structure that works for us.
  • 10 players - 2k in chips for $20 buy-in (T5/T25/T100/T500 - 10/10/7/2)
  • 1st hour: unlimited re-buys @ $20 or $10 top-up (when below 1K in chips, we use a T1000)
  • one-time $10 (i.e. 1K chips) top-up option after the 1st hour (i.e. 4th blind level) concludes
  • No antes
  • 15 minute (and descending) blind levels as rounds increase
    • 5/10
    • 10/20
    • 15/30
    • 20/40
    • 25/50
    • ...and so on until everyone busts out -- Top 3 finishes ITM
  • We normally start at 8pm and ends at 12pm or 1am at the latest
  • Top 3 or Top 2 also have the option to split the pot if the game is going on for too long, given that they have similar chip stacks.
 

wan.7

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In a word, scrap.

First question is are your chips denominated and how many of each chip are available? Are you offering add-ons or rebuys during this event?

Chips are denominated, breakdown at the start of the game is:

40 X $5 chips
40 X $25 chips
8 X $100 chips

We usually get rid of the $5 chips once blinds get to $100.

We don't (normally) allow re-buys.
 

Kain8

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If players are still around their starting stack after a few hours still, shorten the levels a lot.

As a player in the tournament though, it sounds like everyone is playing way way too tight. I'd be raising very frequently preflop to take advantage of that.
 

RoyalBluff

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If players are still around their starting stack after a few hours still, shorten the levels a lot.

As a player in the tournament though, it sounds like everyone is playing way way too tight. I'd be raising very frequently preflop to take advantage of that.

OP mentioned 1 hour blind levels, way too long IMO. Ours is usually 15 minutes, some games 20 minutes.

By the way you're from Regina? I used to live there, North End near the Home Depot!
 

Jonesey07

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Chips are denominated, breakdown at the start of the game is:

40 X $5 chips
40 X $25 chips
8 X $100 chips

We usually get rid of the $5 chips once blinds get to $100.

We don't (normally) allow re-buys.

That's a lot of chips per player. IMO.

I'd shorten the stacks to this:

20 x 5 = 100
12 x 25 = 300
6 x 100 = 600

Starting stacks = 1,000 chips

Do you have 500 chips available or just the 5, 25, 100?
 

Moxie Mike

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So if I understand based on what you've posted, the problem you're looking to solve is that your tournaments don't eliminate anyone until the end and then it's a crapshoot all-in fest?

Honestly, much of this depends on your goals. But if you're consistently having most or all of the field remaining in your tournament in the final round that seems odd in and of itself. Is your player pool a group of ultra nits?

Virtually all tournaments end up as an all-in fest if they go on long enough. This is actually by design. Otherwise they'll drag on forever.

I run a league... here's the structure we use:

30,000 starting stack with 2,000 on-time bonus. One rebuy allowed until first break. Optional 1st break add-on: 10,000

(20 minute levels until 11:20 pm; 10 minute level beginning with Level 13)
Level 1: 100/100 7:00 pm
Level 2: 100/200 7:20 pm
Level 3: 200/400 7:40 pm
Level 4: 300/600 8:00 pm
Break 8:20 pm
Level 5: 500/1000 8:30 pm
Level 6: 600/1200 8:50 pm
Level 7: 800/1600 9:10 pm
Level 8: 1000/2000 9:30 pm
Break 9:50 pm
Level 9: 1500/3000 10:00 pm
Level 10: 2000/4000 10:20 pm
Level 11: 3000/6000 10:40 pm
Level 12: 4000/8000 11:00 pm
Level 13: 5000/10000 11:20 pm
Level 14: 10000/20000 11:30 pm
Level 15: 20000/40000 11:40 pm
Level 16: 40000/80000 11:50 pm

The results: We usually have between 10 and 20 players in our league events - starting the tournament 300 BBs deep we've only gone past midnight once - we're usually done by 11:20 or so and tournament ends with about 60-80 BBs on the table regardless of the number of starters.
 

1A25R

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lets talk about what you run now
a T2000 for a 15 blind start and 1 Hour level, it's a very deep stack structure.

If you want to create more action, start with 1500 and cut the levels down to 20 minutes with a progressive structure.
with 8 players x1500 the tournament should end when blinds are at 600

5/10
10/20
15/30
20/40
25/50
30/60
40/80
-- chip up (remove 5)
50/100
75/150
100/200
150/300
200/400
250/500
300/600
350/700
----------- 5h game


For 8 players you will need

160 $5
96 $25 (+7 extra $25 for the chip up)
48 $100 (+10 extra $100 to remove some $25 late in the game, during a breal p.e.)
 
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Taghkanic

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The one-hour blinds sound like it’s the problem.

It means that for the first few levels, players can sit around folding and waiting for premiums, or playing small (mostly meaningless) pots, knowing that the real action will not start for a few hours. The structure may also be causing players who otherwise might be more action-y to play nitty.

As others have said, I would suggest (a) shortening the blinds to more like 15-20 minutes each, and (b) adding many more levels, so there’s a smoother progression.

Our two-table tournament (I say our, because it’s a game I inherited from someone else which has been running about a decade) has the following structure. The numbers are about 10x bigger than what you’re used to, but you can just divide by 10 to see how it compares.

This game is pretty much always over in 4 hours—sooner if the top 2-3 players make a deal. (Players usually make a deal, because the winners want to get to the cash game which starts once enough people bust.) It is rare for anyone to bust in the first couple of levels, but it happens. We have one guy who rarely makes the break, but he’s the most regular attendee... Go figure.

Anyway:

Starting stack is 24K (with a bonus 5K if you’re on time, which has really helped in making sure people don’t arrive a half-hour late).

Your 2,000 starting stack is equivalent to our 20,000, so we are playing a little deeper, but with levels progress faster and more gradually. There is also an optional add-on of 10K at the break, which tends to keep people in a more satisfying amount of time, without it dragging on forever.

Chip values are white 100s, red 500s, green 1,000s, black 5,000s, 10,000 pinks, with a barrel of purple 20,000s in reserve if we have a really big turnout and they become necessary late. But again the numbers don't matter, only their relation to the blinds and starting stacks. Essentially we’re starting with 150 big blind stacks (assuming you’re on time).

--- 20 MINUTE LEVELS ---
100/200
200/400
300/600
400/800

--- SHORT BREAK ---
--- COLOR UP 100s ---
500/1000
1,000/2,000

--- LEVELS NOW 15 MINS ---
1,500/3,000
--- COLOR UP 500s ---
--- ADDITIONAL COLORS-UPS AS NEEDED --
2K/4K
3K/6K
4K/8K
5K/10K
10K/20K

--- BLINDS CAPPED UNTIL FINISHED ---
--- DEALS ENCOURAGED! ---

This structure has evolved over nearly 10 years, with various adjustments along the way. For example, there used to be several additional levels between 500/100 and 3K/6K that we eliminated.

Without going into all the different changes we made, it has settled on this for a while as a good balance of giving players enough chips that they can get a decent amount of play in, without it going on forever. (The tourney has become almost just like an appetizer for the cash game for many players.)

I find that with these stack depths and ~12 levels which move along quickly, there is a good balance of action throughout, and players getting knocked out pretty steadily after the first hour.

I’d say that around the beginning of the 3rd hour is when the dynamic changes, as the few biggest stack try to bully, and the shorter ones go into shove-or-fold mode. But that’s just the nature of tournaments, and stack management is a skill tourney players have to master.

The key is to structure it to avoid the problem you describe, which essentially makes everything but the final BINGO round meaningful. I played in a game like that once—half-hour levels with huge chip jumps, so that it became almost random who won: Had to catch cards in the final round.
 
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Kyle

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My game is similar to yours as far as starting stacks go. We start with 2000 chips. We start at 5:00pm and most games end around 11pm to Midnight with good solid play all the way to the end. It is not a shove fest 6 handed.

* I also reward players an extra 300 chips for showing up 15 mins before start time. It really works well and we actually get to start on time and cards are in the air at 5:00pm. The players who aren't in their seat at that time are simply blinded in until they show up.*

Here is my structure that has worked really well for us. I average 14-18 players each month and allow rebuys for the first 2 hours before the 1st break. The slow structure in the 1st two hours allows good play for all and the re-buy period is designed for coolers and bad beat hands.

20 minutes Blinds / Each Player starts with 2000 in Chips (Except in Final Tourney)
    • 5/10 20 mins
    • 5/15 20 mins
    • 10/20 20 mins
    • 10/25 20 mins
    • 15/30 20 mins
    • 20/40 20 mins
  • Break / Color Up Red Chips Race/ End of Rebuy Period
    • 25/50 20 mins
    • 25/75 20 mins
    • 50/100 20 mins
    • 75/150 20 mins
    • 100/200 20 mins
    • 150/300 20 mins

  • Break / Color Up Green Chips Race
    • 200/400 20 mins
    • 300/600 20 mins
    • 400/800 20 mins
    • 600/1200 20 mins
    • 800/1600 20 mins
    • 1200/2400 20 mins
  • Break / Color Up Black Race
    • 1500/3000 20 mins
    • 2000/4000 20 mins
    • 3000/6000 20 mins
    • 4000/8000 20 mins
    • 5000/ 10000 20 mins
  • Break Color Up Purple Race
    • 10000/20000 20 mins
    • 20000/40000 20 min
  • Feel free to use this.
 
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Taghkanic

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Oh, and we have a $10 bounty chip included in the $100 buy-in. It’s not much, but it sometimes encourages action. People get tempted by that bounty to call an all-in.
 

wan.7

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Wow! Thanks for all the advice! So fast too! Really appreciated.

So, what I'm getting is that I should increase the frequency of the blind raises and perhaps get some chips off the table?

I do like having a lot of chips on the table (I think it looks more fun). Does it matter more the total value of the chips or the total number of chips?

We already do a bounty chip, thanks @Taghkanic for the suggestion. The bounty does add a nice dynamic to the game.

@RoyalBluff, I actually live in Toowoomba, in Australia but I used to live in Edmonton about 10 years ago.
 

RoyalBluff

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Wow! Thanks for all the advice! So fast too! Really appreciated.

So, what I'm getting is that I should increase the frequency of the blind raises and perhaps get some chips off the table?

I do like having a lot of chips on the table (I think it looks more fun). Does it matter more the total value of the chips or the total number of chips?

We already do a bounty chip, thanks @Taghkanic for the suggestion. The bounty does add a nice dynamic to the game.

@RoyalBluff, I actually live in Toowoomba, in Australia but I used to live in Edmonton about 10 years ago.

Great! Always want to visit Australia. I have friends in Sydney.
I think having more chips is fine, we were just used to having a starting 2k chip stack.
What you need to consider changing are the blind levels (15 to 20 mins each). If you even want it to go faster, introduce Antes. Another league I play with does a double BB antes.
 

Jonesey07

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Wow! Thanks for all the advice! So fast too! Really appreciated.

So, what I'm getting is that I should increase the frequency of the blind raises and perhaps get some chips off the table?

I do like having a lot of chips on the table (I think it looks more fun). Does it matter more the total value of the chips or the total number of chips?

We already do a bounty chip, thanks @Taghkanic for the suggestion. The bounty does add a nice dynamic to the game.

@RoyalBluff, I actually live in Toowoomba, in Australia but I used to live in Edmonton about 10 years ago.

Chips are good, but too many chips can slow down play.

Faster blinds will be the #1 way to speed up play in your game however.
 

Kyle

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Wow! Thanks for all the advice! So fast too! Really appreciated.

So, what I'm getting is that I should increase the frequency of the blind raises and perhaps get some chips off the table?

I do like having a lot of chips on the table (I think it looks more fun). Does it matter more the total value of the chips or the total number of chips?

We already do a bounty chip, thanks @Taghkanic for the suggestion. The bounty does add a nice dynamic to the game.

@RoyalBluff, I actually live in Toowoomba, in Australia but I used to live in Edmonton about 10 years ago.
My tourneys start with the following breakdown:
20 $5's
16 $25's
10 $100's
1 $500

I give out 4 $500's for re-buys and players exchange smaller demoninatons accordingly. ( For chip up speed etc.)
 

BGinGA

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Looks like you are wanting to run an 8-player deep-stack tournament that lasts around 6 hours. With that in mind, using a T5-base set, I recommend the following:

T2000 starting stacks:
20 x T5
20 x T25
14 x T100
-----------
54 chips per player (432 total chips on the table to start, if 8 players). This is a much better solution than your current 88 chips per player (704 total). See below for why.

100bb Blind Structure using 30-minute levels:

lvl sb bb
L1 10 20
L2 15 30
L3 20 40
L4 30 60
L5 40 80
remove T5 chips (requires 2x T500 chips)
L6 50 100
L7 75 150
L8 100 200
L9 150 300
remove T25 chips (requires 8x T500 chips)
L10 200 400
L11 300 600
L12 400 800 -- tournament usually ends by this level
remove T100 chips (requires 23x T500 chips or 12x T1000 chips)
L13 500 1000
L14 1000 2000

This event will typically finish no later than L12 (400/800), which works out to about six hours maximum (plus two 10-minute breaks for color-ups). The blind level increases are also more uniform and consistent from one level to the next, making it easier to determine how fast one's stack is getting affected by the increasing blind amounts.

Lastly, having fewer chips on the table will also speed up play (meaning more hands played per hour, and more opportunities for players to knock each other out). With this in mind, use larger denomination chips (T500) to color-up the smaller denominations, so those larger chips will be on the table when the larger bet sizes in later rounds require them.


Comparing this structure to yours, look at the blind levels after each 1-hour increment of play:

duration -- new blinds -- old blinds
starting ----- 10/20 -------- 5/10
1 hour ------ 20/40 ------- 10/25
2 hours ----- 40/80 ------- 25/50
3 hours ---- 75/150 ------ 50/100
4 hours ---- 150/300 ---- 100/200
5 hours ---- 300/600 ---- 200/500
6 hours ---- 500/1000 --- 200/500

With the new structure, there is more pressure on the stacks to perform, making it much less likely that stacks will remain stagnant. Combine that with starting stacks that are essentially half the previous size (in terms of the number of starting big blinds), and you will see a dramatic difference in how play proceeds. Since fewer players will remain during the latter blind levels, their corresponding larger stacks will allow ample opportunity for those players to maneuver and play solid poker before the event becomes a lucky shove-fest.
 
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BGinGA

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I have heard the legends that if you have chips at the end of a cash game you do get to put some money back in your wallet. But this is purely theoretical.
The theory proves out. Even better, you can have zero chips at the end of many tournaments, and still get to put some money back in your wallet. :)
 

wan.7

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Hey, thanks so much for all the advice. You guys have been really helpful, especially @BGinGA, I really appreciate the effort you put in to your response. @Kyle and @Taghkanic, your responses were super helpful too. It's great we have such a helpful and knowledgeable group here.
I have some great ideas and plans on how to change up my game for the next meeting (which isn't until next month).
I'll let you know how it all goes.
Thanks again, I really appreciate the input!
 

Highli99

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Looks like you are wanting to run an 8-player deep-stack tournament that lasts around 6 hours. With that in mind, using a T5-base set, I recommend the following:

T2000 starting stacks:
20 x T5
20 x T25
14 x T100
-----------
54 chips per player (432 total chips on the table to start, if 8 players). This is a much better solution than your current 88 chips per player (704 total). See below for why.

100bb Blind Structure using 30-minute levels:

lvl sb bb
L1 10 20
L2 15 30
L3 20 40
L4 30 60
L5 40 80
remove T5 chips (requires 2x T500 chips)
L6 50 100
L7 75 150
L8 100 200
L9 150 300
remove T25 chips (requires 8x T500 chips)
L10 200 400
L11 300 600
L12 400 800 -- tournament usually ends by this level
remove T100 chips (requires 23x T500 chips or 12x T1000 chips)
L13 500 1000
L14 1000 2000

This event will typically finish no later than L12 (400/800), which works out to about six hours maximum (plus two 10-minute breaks for color-ups). The blind level increases are also more uniform and consistent from one level to the next, making it easier to determine how fast one's stack is getting affected by the increasing blind amounts.

Lastly, having fewer chips on the table will also speed up play (meaning more hands played per hour, and more opportunities for players to knock each other out). With this in mind, use larger denomination chips (T500) to color-up the smaller denominations, so those larger chips will be on the table when the larger bet sizes in later rounds require them.


Comparing this structure to yours, look at the blind levels after each 1-hour increment of play:

duration -- new blinds -- old blinds
starting ----- 10/20 -------- 5/10
1 hour ------ 20/40 ------- 10/25
2 hours ----- 40/80 ------- 25/50
3 hours ---- 75/150 ------ 50/100
4 hours ---- 150/300 ---- 100/200
5 hours ---- 300/600 ---- 200/500
6 hours ---- 500/1000 --- 200/500

With the new structure, there is more pressure on the stacks to perform, making it much less likely that stacks will remain stagnant. Combine that with starting stacks that are essentially half the previous size (in terms of the number of starting big blinds), and you will see a dramatic difference in how play proceeds. Since fewer players will remain during the latter blind levels, their corresponding larger stacks will allow ample opportunity for those players to maneuver and play solid poker before the event becomes a lucky shove-fest.

BG - what would you say is the fewest possible T5 chips to reasonably play a T2000 or T2000 tournament. Is 10 T5 chips per person ok?
 

BGinGA

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Is 10 T5 chips per person ok?
Absolutely. I typically recommend using between 10-16 chips each of the lowest two denominations in any tournament set (so 10 or 15 each if T1-, T5-. T100-, or T500-base, and 12 or 16 each if T.25 or T25-base).

T2000 stacks, T5-base:
10 x T5
10 x T25
7 x T100
2 x T500
----------
29 chips per player. A bare-bones 10-player set (with color-ups) can be built using 300 chips (100/100/70/20/10).
 

Highli99

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Absolutely. I typically recommend using between 10-16 chips each of the lowest two denominations in any tournament set (so 10 or 15 each if T1-, T5-. T100-, or T500-base, and 12 or 16 each if T.25 or T25-base).

T2000 stacks, T5-base:
10 x T5
10 x T25
7 x T100
2 x T500
----------
29 chips per player. A bare-bones 10-player set (with color-ups) can be built using 300 chips (100/100/70/20/10).

Thanks! I bookmarked this for when the Matsuis arrive. I mostly built my set as a two table T20k setup but got just over a rack of 5s to be able to work them in with an occasional single table T2k tourney. Your suggestions above are much appreciated.
 

wan.7

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Hi Guys,

Just thought I'd give an update. Last night we tried out a new formula based on the advise I received from you guys. We had 5 players and ended up doing a T10000 (because I bought a new set of chips that worked best with a T10000 set up) with 20 min blind increments that worked out looking like this:

12550+0:00
250100+0:20
375150+0:40
4100200+1:00
5125250+1:20
6150300+1:40
7175350+2:00
8200400+2:20
9300600+2:40
10400800+3:00
115001000+3:20
126001200+3:40
137001400+4:00
1410002000+4:20
1515003000+4:40
1620004000+5:00
1730006000+5:20
1840008000+5:40
19500010000+6:00

Worked great! The dynamic really changed, there was so much more raising over the "minimum bet" and the flow just felt so much better. It wasn't such a violent jump when the blinds went up. The game was over just as the blinds hit T4000 and at that point there was only 2 players still in rather than the usual EVERYONE still playing. It meant the last few hands were not just an "All In" luck fest.

After all was said and done I also won, so I was pretty pleased about that too.

All in all I was very happy and I just want to say a big thanks for all the advise, it has really helped.

We have a great bunch of guys (and girls) here. I'm stoked to be part of it!!

:):):):):):):):):):)
 

1A25R

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Happy to heard that it make the trickY.
You can still improve a bit your new structure IE you can try to replace the current 175/3 50 by 250/500 if you are short in 25 chips.
And maybe a 2500/5000 level is necessary to keep the structure smooth, your corrent jump between level 16 and 17 is quite big.
 
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