EPT11 Prague: Short day tomorrow? Don't count on it

As you have probably heard by now, there is a slight variation to the planned schedule for the rest of this European Poker Tour main event. Under normal circumstances, the EPT has a final table of eight players and the penultimate day finishes when player number nine is knocked out.

But here in Prague this week, in a bid to end a series of extraordinarily long final days, the action is going to continue until the end of level 29 -- unless we get down to six players first. It means that we could come back tomorrow and begin the only final day with fewer than eight players that the EPT has ever seen.

I suspect that that might be less than ideal for some armchair EPT fans, for whom a long day and night watching the action progress offers a day-off-worthy distraction. But it is a blessed relief for anybody who sat in the tournament rooms of Prague in 2013, then the PCA, Monaco Grand Final and Barcelona events this year, as today ticked into tomorrow and then the sun came up.

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How long will we all be watching this?

According to everybody who has watched a few of them, the key factors in determining the length of a final table are as follows: number of big blinds in play, standard of player and duration of the heads up passage of play. It is all but impossible to influence the latter two factors: less experienced players often get to the final table and can slow down action, while it is also often the case that a heads-up battle can go ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong for hours and hours or end.

However that first factor can be influenced -- even without deviating from the established, pre-published structure. The way to do it is to extend the days in the lead up to the final, so that the final starts in a later blind level and there are fewer big blinds in play.

Here's the normal EPT main event schedule:

Day 1: Eight 75-minute levels
Day 2: Six 75-minute levels (end level 14)
Day 3: Five 90-minute levels (end level 19)
Day 4: Five 90-minute levels (or down to 16 players) (end level 24)
Day 5: Down to a final table of eight
Day 6: Final table

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Our two-table set up in Prague

I decided this afternoon to have a look back at those epic tournaments to see if there was any particular reason they went on so long. I seemed to remember that in addition to the monstrous final day, those tournaments shared something else in common: a very short Day 5. Will today's decision to play five levels regardless give us a more manageable day tomorrow?

Prague, Season 10
Total players: 1,007
Total chips in play: 30.21 million

End of Day 4: Level 24 (22 players; 1.37 million average; 57 BBs)
End of Day 5: Level 26 (8 players; 3.78 million average; 94 BBs)
Final table ended: Level 33

--

PCA, Season 10
Total players: 1,031
Chips in play: 30.93 million

End of Day 4: Level 24 (20 players; 1.55 million average; 64 BBs)
End of Day 5: Level 26 (8 players; 3.87 million average; 96 BBs)
Final table ended: Level 34

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Grand Final, Season 10
Total players: 650
Chips in play: 19.5 million

Day 4 ended: Level 24 (17 players; 1.15 million average; 47 BBs)
Day 5 ended: Level 27 (8 players; 2.44 million average; 49 BBs)
Final table ended: Level 35

-

Barcelona, Season 11
Total players: 1,496
Chips in play: 44.88 million

Day 4 ended: Level 25 (25 players; 1.79 million average; 44 BBs)
Day 5 ended: Level 32 (8 players; 5.61 million; 35 BBs)
Final table ended: Level 41

Tomorrow's final table at EPT11 Prague will, if things go to plan for the rest of today, start in level 30. And so, if we emulate the tournament here in Prague last year, we could have a three-level final table.

However, just take a look at the Barcelona main event. That one went into level 41, which would still leave us an 11-level final table tomorrow. If memory serves, the tournament officials shortened the levels towards the end of the day, but that still represents an absolute monster.

At the time the last hand was dealt, the blinds in Barcelona were 600,000-1,200,000, the biggest they have ever been on the tour. It meant there were 38 big blinds in play. If the final hand is dealt in Prague this week when there are 38 big blinds in play, we we be in level 39! Holy moly.

Full coverage of the main event is on the main event page. Action from the high roller is on the High Roller page.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour