Sep 12, 2014
PokerStars unveils "Double Bubble" Tournaments
By RTR Dennis
Tired of the wild variance associated with normal tournament poker? PokerStars is ready to offer a solution in the form of their new "Double Bubble" tournaments. There are two Double Bubble events listed on the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) schedule, which has naturally prompted curiosity. That said, let's discuss the specifics of these tourneys and why they're being offered.
Half the field will cash
In a normal tournament payout structure, only about 10% of the field gets paid. This is definitely nice from the perspective that it creates huge prizes at the top. However, it also severely reduces the number of players who are making any money from the event.
What PokerStars proposes with their Double Bubble events is to pay 50% of the field. So half of the players are going to at least win their buy-in back. From here, the remaining prize money will be distributed among the top 8% of finishers. Lee Jones, Head of Poker Communications at Stars, gives an excellent example of how this would work through his blog:
So suppose it's a $1000+$100 event with 80 runners. When 40 players are left, we walk around and drop $1100 in cash (or chips) in front of each of the remaining 40 players. The money that's left is distributed in an 8% payout structure.
Why is PokerStars doing this?
With Stars enjoying so much success in their live tournament organizations, one might wonder why they're experimenting with such a shakeup. However, Jones believes that customer demand for a wider prize money disbursement is growing.
"As time has progressed, most of us in the business have come to believe that paying out more of the field is better," he writes. "That is, increasing the number of players who get something back is preferable to putting an extra bonus on top of the already staggering size of the prizes at the top."
Jones uses two situations to make his point clear: final table deals and the current money bubble. He writes that if everybody loved huge first-place prizes so much, then why are final table deals so common? As for the bubble, he believes that many players abandon their dreams of the top payouts for a min-cash. So in his eyes, why not provide a less-threatening bubble at 50% of the field?
Are Double Bubble Tournaments the Future of Poker?
Don't expect Stars to begin transitioning the majority of their live and online tourneys to Double Bubble format any time soon. According to Jones, this is just an experiment to gauge interest from players. He writes, "We think they'll be fun and offer players a chance to try something different. Do we expect Double Bubbles to revolutionize the poker tournament scene? Not likely, but there's no harm here - we'll run a few and, as always, see what the players tell us with their feet."
It's difficult to say exactly how the poker community will respond to these events. After all, pros may see Double Bubble tournaments as something that will lower their hourly win rate. But on the other hand, recreational players might be thrilled to have such a good shot at winning back their buy-in, if not more money.