Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Seeing as though I spent most of my week at the Grosvenor Casino in Walsall, I’d thought I’d assess the structure applied to the comp, as whilst feedback from the Broadway Festival of Poker was that the structure was one of the best ever experienced, many were criticising the GUKPT’s.

Ten days ago, I was in Brum to update on the Main Event, and I distinctly remember Henning Granstad commenting that it was the best structured comp that he’d ever encountered and that he wouldn’t hesitate in returning for their next festival. “It’s great,” said the Norwegian, “the blinds are so small compared to the chips that bad beats are few and far between because players are given an extra chance to fold.”

Meanwhile, at the second leg of the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour in Walsall, Day 2 witnessed complaints galore and various cries of “crapshoot” and “it’s like this in the £20 rebuy”, the latter coming from Ash Pervais, one of the game’s most respected players.

However, whilst I must confess that a couple of levels in the GUKPT were all-in fests, I feel it would be naïve to simply describe the structure of the comp as a failure. Now, I’m not going to criticise the Broadway structure, quite the opposite in fact, I just think that due to the 2 comps being so different, it’s unfair to compare without taking into consideration the differing factors.

What many people need to remember is that whilst the Broadway made less than 100 runners, Walsall sold out for 360, and to whittle it down to 1, especially with the final table being allocated an entire day, is unrealistic without the structure putting any pressure on the players. Adding extra levels or extending the clock will simply mean that they will fail to achieve their objective in finishing the comp within the 4 day time period.

Also, when it came down to the final, where the big money is truly being played for, players were rarely under pressure to move all-in and this was reflected in the 9 hours it took to complete. In this sense, the final table structure was excellent, and Jonathan Raab was keen to point out that players had on average more big blinds than in Bolton.

The reason why the Broadway seemed so generous was that it had more chips on average in play, 15k compared to Walsall’s 10k. If Walsall had played with 15k, it would have taken a week to finish, and this was teased in Birmingham when we endured a 2 hour bubble and another 60 minutes for the 1st finalist to fall – it wasn’t until we somehow lost 6 men in 30 minutes that thoughts of a 5.30am chip count were vanquished. Imagine if the likes of Simon Zach, Shaf and Praz had been eliminated first, thereby leaving the tighter players in – we would have been there forever!

If my memory serves me right, the Broadway didn’t have an ante structure, and this can make a huge difference as people aren’t accustomed to them and don’t know how to adapt. As Neil Channing said in the live updates, “A lot of the people who have complained are simply not used to tournaments with running antes. I think it is a great development that the bigger UK tournaments are all starting to have antes now. All American and online NLH tournaments have a running ante and to me it just isn't a proper NLH tournament without them. I have no idea why they have not always been used in past Grosvenor festivals but I think a lot of the rocks who are not used to antes, and who were unable to adapt to a new situation were the ones shouting the loudest.”

Interestingly, Dave Penley added, “I am of the opinion that the total antes in the pot should not exceed the value of the big blind otherwise they are speeding up the tournament too much.” He then went on to say, “Maybe a couple of little timesavers along the way could lead to an extra level or 2 or reaching the goal of only the final being on Sunday.”

These are all good points (one could also argue that being able to play antes and the sharp increase in blinds is a skill in itself), but it doesn’t deter from the fact that there was one level in particular where almost every hand was an all-in and people were being forced to gamble after working so hard to build a stack. However, whilst the prosecution will use this as justification for adding extra levels or removing antes, I would suggest that the answer lies in selective modification instead of a drastic overhaul. Yes, it got messy during this level and there were many complaints, but we need to remember that many levels were very slow, so in this sense the problem lies in maintaining an equilibrium in which blind levels are tweaked in a prudent way which brings balance to the comp. Whether this be in lowering an ante level, altering a blind value or whatever, there is always a way of evening it out so that quality play is enjoyed throughout.

The key is in experimentation, nobody claims the comp to be perfect, and Jonathan Raab would be the first to admit that. This is only the second leg of what is becoming a vastly popular and respected Tour and we should give praise to the organisers who are eager to take on board the feedback. Jonathan himself added, “Having spent a lot of time thinking about what can be done going forward I feel it will be necessary to make some tweaks to the structure ahead of Cardiff and I thank you all for your opinions. They are all very helpful and we will consider all the options available to us before deciding on which changes need to be made.”

Let’s not forget that Jonathan did indeed respond to the complaints of the players, who are ultimately the ones that count, by freezing the antes. This was a tough decision for Jonathan who was in a tricky position - change the blind structure and annoy the short stacks who have just gambled and consequently exited or upset the current shortstacks who feel obliged to move all-in every hand. In my opinion, freezing the antess was an effective compromise and I feel Jonathan made a good move under pressure.

To conclude, I don’t think anyone would argue that the GUKPT in Walsall wasn’t a success. Red-Dog said, “Well teething problems not withstanding, the GUKPT is the best and most ambitious initiative British poker has seen in a long time. Congratulations to all involved” and I couldn’t agree more. Yes, the blind structure wasn’t perfect, yes there were some times when skill was minimised, but this can all be fine-tuned to produce an even better, yet still finishable GUKPT. With Raab and co at the helm, each event is guaranteed to be better than the last, but the key will be in tweaking the structure rather than making drastic changes.


At 5:53 PM, Blogger Dave said...

will do soon, jus cnt be assed moving my mouse at the mo

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Stu H said...


No probs. Done

At 5:20 AM, Blogger julian thew said...

i haven't made a day 2 yet in the gkupt so it's kinda hard for me to comment but i agreed with the points made regarding;
losing either the 75/150 or 150/300 level so that the transition in the later levels is smoother &
looking at the number & lengths of the breaks.
running antes are to be applauded & at least we know mr raab will tweak the structure having listened to the players.
roll on cardiff i say!

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