$50,000 Super High Roller

The Deadlock Dilemma


For most tournaments, starting on time isn't much of an issue. Even before the tournament starts, people anxious to play are lingering around after having gotten up early in the morning to prepare. As soon as the tournament director calls for the dealers to shuffle up and deal, the tournament starts and the dealers start pitching cards. Some players might even jump over chairs to be in their seat in time.

If you beat everyone in the tournament, you've won. You may then call yourself the champion. You receive all the money, the cheque, and all the attention. Usually, this is after a couple of days of play. If the tournament format is a sit-n-go, things are usually over within a day. In the case of a hyper turbo event, it can be after just a couple of hours of play.

When there aren't a ton of players flocking the tables when an event is supposed to start, things can get tricky. And while the PokerStars Championship and Festival events are incredibly popular, the Super High Roller events are a little bit of a different beast.

When the countdown reaches zero in Super High Roller events, most of the times, not much happens. These events rarely start on time just because of the fact that not enough players have signed up for the tournament to get underway.

One might think that the organization can just start when two players have signed up, but it's not that easy. If let's say, the two best poker players in the world sign up first, it's entirely possible a lot of the other players decide to wait out to see who joins more. Everyone is looking at each other and nobody makes a move. Deadlock.

Now, say those two best players get into a cooler situation and get their chips in the middle on the flop; set over set, what a cooler. One player triumphs, the other loses his or her money. One player has now beaten everyone in the tournament and can lift the trophy. The tournament is over, and all other players who were playing railbird, ready to join the action, are left out. Results are sent to the Hendonmob, all done for the day!

That's why the tournament organization often decides to postpone starting times for Super High Roller Events or other tournaments with a smaller field size. They can't risk an event being over before it really has gotten to its maximum potential, so they'll only start when a certain amount of players have signed up.

Things get even trickier when there's a guaranteed prize pool. Last year's $100,000-buy-in WCOOP event had a guaranteed prize pool of $1,000,000 but play got underway with just five players. If those five had somehow gotten it all in on the first hand and one player had scooped the pot, he would've won $1,000,000 and PokerStars would've had to pony up the $500,000 overlay as a result.

Besides just being late, wanting to sleep in or not signing up on time for another reason, a lot of players want to see what they get themselves into before signing up. Competition can be incredibly stiff in the Super High Roller events and not everyone wants to play if just the creme de la creme signs up. Therefore, while a lot will have the cash in hand, they wait to see who takes a seat.

What the players should do is all sign up well before the start and just start playing. But that's not how poker works. Not only are high rollers not particularly known for being punctual, not everyone wants to play regardless of who signs up. Despite a lot of players talking strat together and hanging out outside of poker, the game is still an individual game and everyone's looking for an edge. That's what poker is about. Everyone who plays knows this.

Most of the times, things will work out. Late registration is open for quite some time and certain players get a double stack which motivates others to hop in. Others are just sleeping in and decide to join later. Even more come as more recreational players sign up.

Super High Roller regular Steve O'Dwyer isn't the biggest fan of players just lingering around to see who's playing. "Just sit down and play" he would say. He also has a solution to get rid of this behavior: "Shame, shame people that do that."

In the PokerStars Championship Panama Super High Roller, just four players were in the tournament room as the clock struck noon. Just Daniel Dvoress, Ben Tollerene, Sam Greenwood and Mike Watson were seen in the tournament area when the tournament should've gotten underway. O'Dwyer joined them after two minutes.

Half an hour later, enough players had signed up to get the game going. Soon, more players followed and with play now underway for two levels, there are 3 tables in play with 17 players in contention. We have a game! Follow along with the action over on the PokerStars Blog.

Play got underway half an hour later.