Not All Deep Stack Poker Tournaments are Created Equal
Stronger players prefer this variant as it allows them to open up their games; amateurs like them because it gives them more play for their tournament dollar.
The popularity has grown to the point where every major tournament series now offers these events.
Some casinos have added them to their daily tournament rotations. While this appears to be a positive trend for players, keep in mind that Deep Stack Tournaments are not all created equal.
Below are a few things to look for in Deep Stack Tournaments to see if they really “stack up.”
Re-Entry Events Are Not Geared for Deep Stack Play
When I look at a Deep Stack Tournament offering, a big red flag is if the event is a “re-entry” event. This means that for the first few levels that players can re-enter the tournament and try again with a new stack.
That doesn’t exactly scream “deep stack poker” to me. Rather, this is a gimmicky event that is geared to bump up the number of entries and the potential rake to the house.
This will make more sense when you look at the structure.
Short Blind Levels Hurt Play
If you look at a lot of so-called deep stack events, you’ll notice levels of 30 minutes or less on a majority. A deep stack event with a level of 30 minutes is fair at best. Anything shorter and you're basically playing a turbo with extra chips.
I’m not a big proponent of 30-minute levels but if the rest of the structure is done right, then 30-minute levels may be the only way to get larger tourneys to the final table in a single day.
The best events are those with 40-minute to hour-long levels. At this length, you get plenty of time to work your stack and this can also help counterbalance some inferior structures.
Watch for Missing Levels or Doubling Blinds
If you have short levels or re-entries, then chances are you are going to have some type of structure doctoring. This is done in order to have a deep stack tournament end in the same amount of time as your standard tournament.
In essence the casino is pulling a bit of sleight of hand to cheat you out of your deep stacked play.
Check the blind levels closely. At some point you may notice certain blind levels removed. It may not be obvious in the early levels but the later the tournament goes, you can see the difference.
For example, a jump from a 2,000-4,000 to 4,000-8,000 skips at least two levels. (Really four if you’re really looking for true deep stack.)
Something else you will notice with some low buy-in deep stack tournaments are doubling blinds. You start out at something like 50-100 and then go to 100-200 and then 200-400, 400-800, 800-1,600 and so forth.
See how many levels were skipped there?
Don’t Waste Your Money on Poorly Structured Deep Stack Tournaments
If you are a true deep stack poker player, don’t waste your money on events with poor structures like the ones listed above.
Sure, there are some good deep stack events with 30-minute blinds and there is the occasional event that plays well despite being re-entry.
However, those types of anomalies are often in larger tournament sets where a re-entry period may be held because there’s an expectation of high amateur turnout.
It's in your smaller events and daily casino tournaments where you have to watch for a lot of what is listed above. If you find an event exhibiting the characteristics above, move on to another event or approach it like you would a standard or turbo tournament.