EPT11 Barcelona: When is your stack being put into play?

It wouldn't be a new EPT season without "controversy" over a new rule, but in common with every other "controversial" rule amendment over the years, this one has been made with the players' interests at the forefront of the tournament organisers' minds. It is intended to address an area of unfairness brought to light last season and will ensure a level playing field for all during this year.

(There's a way you can save yourself from having to read any of this, by the way, and that's to show up at the advertised starting time if you want to play an EPT event. If you do that, none of the following applies to you.)


The rule change this time around centres on the very beginning of Day 1, before a card is even dealt. In short: a stack belonging to a player who has bought in and collected his or her table assignment stands a chance of being put into play from the moment we hear a "Shuffle up and deal!"

This is the case whether or not that player has actually arrived to his or her seat.


Eugene Katchalov says, "Shuffle up and deal!"

To explain further: players on the EPT are allowed to buy in at any time during Day 1, all the way up to the beginning of Day 2. Many players take advantage of this extended registration period, sleeping away the levels before the antes, or just opting to show up when the initial cavalry charge to the tournament floor has abated. It is often good sense.

Another option available to players is to buy in to the tournament ahead of time, collect a randomly allocated seating assignment, but then still go back to bed/to the beach/to the shops on the day of play. This can be done safe in the knowledge that whenever the player comes back and decides to join the action, he or she would find an untouched stack of 30,000 waiting to be broken open.

Almost all of this remains unchanged this season, with the exception of the very last bit. The problem last season was that those players showing up right at the start of the day were denied the chance to play by the absence of everybody else. The prompt arrivers would sometimes discover that they were alone at their tables, and tournament rules dictate that the minimum number of players required before play can begin is three.

Even if three, four or five players did show up, why should they be forced to play short handed while other tables had eight or nine? It was an unfortunate imbalance and organisers received plenty of negative feedback -- the one thing the superlative EPT team dislike more than anything else.

The answer to the problem, introduced from this stop onwards, is that whenever the registration desk has sold all its allocations of, say, Seat 4, then the stacks of all players in Seat 4 will be put into play across the room. Blinds will be peeled off these stacks as and when demanded and every table will therefore have a "player" in that chair, whether or not they had a bodily representative.


An unguarded stack in play at EPT Barcelona

Full allocations of at least six seats will almost certainly have been sold by the start of play, which will ensure plenty of stacks in play and plenty of action for those prepared to arrive at the advertised starting time.

It's worth pointing out another couple of related points.

- This new rule does not affect anyone buying in late, or PokerStars players -- qualifiers or "Direct Buy Ins" (DBIs) -- who elect to collect their seat allocation only when they actually are ready to play. In other words, it's still fine for people to buy in throughout the whole of Day 1 and get a full stack when they do. But as soon as players collect their seat allocations, they are deemed to be in the tournament and there is a chance their stacks will be put into play.

- If and when new tables are opened -- ie, if an event is not sold out but suddenly a rush of fresh arrivals swell the numbers beyond the current tables being used -- then the players in the big blind from nine random tables will be selected to move to the new table, while the newcomers are accommodated across the tournament floor. This has actually been in effect for a few years and makes sure that late registrants are not all put on the same new table.

-- In Barcelona today, the full allocations of all all but two seats had been sold by the start of play at noon. It meant that when Eugene Katchalov said "Shuffle up and deal!" dealers were instructed to put into play all the stacks in Seats 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9.

-- This new approach has been pioneered on the EPT this year. As far as anybody knows, it hasn't been done like this before.

-- The moral of the story is: turn up to play on time and none of this spectacularly turgid extrapolative post will apply to you.

Meanwhile follow all the action from the tournament floor on the main EPT Barcelona page. There's hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top, including chip counts, and feature pieces below. There's also EPT Live, which is streaming action from Day 1B of the Main Event.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour