Thursday, January 13, 2011

Multi-entry tournaments

You have likely read this week about the debut of Full Tilt Poker's newest feature, multi-entry tournaments. The basic idea is that you can enter a tournament with multiple seats, either all at once when you sign up, or add other seats whenever you like during the late-registration period, up to whatever the maximum number allowed is. You will never play at a table against yourself; your stacks are shuffled between tables as needed to prevent this. When the number of entries you still have alive exceeds the number of tables available, your two shortest stacks are merged into one, and if that happens in the money, the shortest stack is declared to have been knocked out, and you collect the prize money for that spot.

As with most online poker innovations, I wanted to give it a try. This afternoon I found one that was only $2.20 per entry, with a maximum of four entries allowed. I decided that fit within my budget.

Here's how the tournament lobby looks just before starting:

My first problem was fitting four tables on my laptop screen. Once that was done, my biggest challenge was just keeping up with four tables. I've never done more than three before, and even that was only for a very brief time. It kept me busy enough that I'm sure my play was suboptimal, since I had almost no attention left over to watch players' tendencies (it suddenly becomes clear why people invest in Poker Tracker or similar software), and when I was busy with one or two tables, I would tend to fold on a third one rather than trying an aggressive move that I otherwise might have. As a time-saver, I also pre-folded many times in late position based on having lousy cards, rather than stick around and watch to see if the action folded or limped to me, meaning that I undoubtedly passed up some chances to steal the blinds. I'm sure one can get used to this level of activity and do it more smoothly and competently than I did, but I'm not there yet.

Other than the mechanical/attentional challenge of keeping up with everything, it played just as it would if you happened to be playing four separate tournaments at a time, except that it was a little easier because the blinds were the same in all four places, which meant that I didn't have to keep recalculating the size of a standard opening raise, nor continually be refiguring how many big blinds I had left.

There were 2134 entrants. It looked to me as though the great majority of players took all four spots at sign-up, though I saw a smattering of names listed just once or twice. I wish the tournament lobby listed how many unique players were in, as well as the total number of seats occupied. My entries finished in 1699, 1303, 1021, and 365 place, with the top 234 (I think) paying, so I never got to see a merge take place. There were no remarkable hands worth reporting.

I did manage to capture this unusual moment, however--two tables with the same three cards on the flop at the same time:

Rigged, obviously.

The multi-entry format was mildly fun and interesting to try, but I'm not going to make a regular habit of it. First, my success rate is much higher on Bodog and the Cake network than on FTP, so my NLHE tournament play will stay concentrated on those sites. Second, I still prefer to keep no more than two tables going at once. Third, I just don't see that there is any meaningful advantage in doing one of these as opposed to playing in separate tournaments. (There may be a theoretical disadvantage. As has been noted in various forum posts, if you play four different tournaments, you can win all four; with four seats in a multi-entry, you can only win one.)

But it was worth trying once to see how it works, and so that I can say that I did it.


Unknown said...

As someone who plays 6 up to 12 tables a time, the first dive into multi-tabling is tough.

You can stack the tables one on top of each other and your turn will pop up as action is needed.

Unless you're actively taking notes of course.

Anonymous said...

You should try the Rush Poker Tournaments. They are right up your alley for allowing tight play and a great structure due to the number of hands you get at each level. Plus the turbo tournaments are usually done in under 2 hours.