Myth of the Deep Stack
Harrah's does it again.
Donkfest WSOP M.E.
There were just too many good titles for this one. One of the reasons the WSOP has remained at the top of the poker tournament heap, was the Deep Stacks and long levels that allowed the player to outlast a relatively long string of bad cards, but not anymore. Actually I was working on an article on how to plan for a poker tournament, and thought it would be a stroke of genius to apply it to the WSOP Main Event. What I found was surprising and a bit disappointing. Let's take a look.
First a straight forward look at the structures. *Note that by clicking on the image, you will be taken to a larger view. User your browser's 'back' button to return to this article.*
If you compare the total of the blinds, plus antes, of 2007 with the twice the total of blinds and antes for 2006, the structures look almost exactly alike. There are only a few minor differences, but when you consider that each level was shortened from 2 hours to 1 hour, the results are staggering.
Here is a graph that reflects the change in total "M."
The chart above compares the total "M" value in the tournament. For those not familiar with Harrington's books or the "M" value. It is the cost of one round of 9 hands, (Blinds plus Antes,) divided into the total number of chips. The graph is logarithmic, so it displays and exponential equation as almost a straight line. As you can see by the high light point, Day 3, Level 15, for 2006 the number of chips in play provided 57,000 rounds of play, but for 2007 there are only 10,000 rounds of play available to be divided among all of the remaining participants.
Since many players don't know or care about the concept of "M", or may have problems reading logarithmic graphs, here is another graph that might illustrate the difference better.
Here you can see the result of the faster levels on the cost in chips to play a single hand at different levels. The 20,000 chip starting stack is reflected by doubling the cost per hand of the 2006 event. During the first 2 hours of play, there was an increase less than twice, (Remember the cost has already been adjusted for the bigger starting stack.) but at the end of the day, the cost per hand is almost three times that of the 2006 cost. As the tournament progresses it gets worse exponentially. It increases by a factor of five by the second hour of day three and a factor of seven by the second hour of day four.
Here is one more that reflects the total cost to reach each Level.
To make it web friendly the size is a bit small. So, I highlighted three points. At the end of day 1, a player must have won at least 23,100 to be even, (Still have 20,000 in chips.) In 2006 the player would have needed to win 8,400 in chips, (Actually 4,200, but it has been doubled to adjust for 20,000 starting stacks.) at the end of Day two 144,300 - 44,400 and the end of day three, 630,300 - 122,400.
So what's the final verdict?
• A conservative "Survival" style will not work. Some of the WPT winners may finally win a WSOP bracelet.
• The, double deep, stack didn't provide extra playing time. In fact relative stack size decreased significantly and the amount of the "decrease," increases throughout the tournament.
• Yep, looks like it, and even covered their A$$ by having a couple of pro player committees make recommendations.
• This structure really favors the Online and European players that are accustomed to a push fest. The traditional players will suffer.
For those that are interested, here are the daily starting stacks kicked out by my spreadsheet if the tournament goes as expected.
This spread sheet is really quite conservative, and depicts a tournament that is "First Day" plus five days plus the final table. I actually expect the final table to be Day five or even Day 4. The numbers highlighted in Red are the minimum. If you stack size is below those numbers, your ability to play poker will be restricted. If the numbers are above the numbers highlighted in Green, you should be able to play comfortably, but you will not be able to sit back and blind into the next day. The highlighted row indicates the final 9 players.