Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What is a "good" structure?

Above: Arnold Snyder's book, The Poker Tournament Formula gives a method to determine a tournament's speed.

Poker players are always talking about tournaments with a good structure. What's that mean? What makes a tournament fast or slow? Snyder defines the speed as the blind structure in relation to the number of chips each players starts with (with some other minor factors such as number of players and whether there are rebuys or not). That's simple enough, but how do you quantify this?

The Saturday tournament at the Horseshoe Casino gives players 12,000 in chips with 30-minute levels. The Sunday tournament gives 20,000 in chips, but only 20-minute levels. How often the blinds raise and to what levels are almost the same between the two.

Which one do you think is better? To get more chips or to have 10 minutes longer at each level (assuming everything else is the same)? Do you think that it's similar? You can't know for sure without seeing the actual blind structure, but take a guess.

Tomorrow, I'll post what Snyder's formula says.


  1. Without knowing better, I'd consider the length of the levels and the starting stack as an inverse relationship.

    If we compare the 12,000 chips and 30-minute intervals versus the 20k chips and 20-minute level, we have a 33.33% decrease in time per level (30 minutes to 20 minutes.) In return, I would want a 33.33% increase in chips.

    So, I'd want my 12,000 chips increased to 16,000 (33 1/3% increase).

    Because my starting stack at with 20-minute levels is 20,000, I'd prefer the 20k stack and 20-minute levels.

    But after your reply to my question about chopping, I'd guess that my choice would lead to more luck and less breathing room at the final table.

    1. Interesting take, Yakshi.

      Another way to look at it is that the length of levels is 50% higher (at the 12,000 vs the 20,000), but you're actually getting MORE than 50% of the chips.

      I think the longer blinds would be the better structure, overall.


  2. Lots of interesting variables around blinds. Online plays more hands. Aggressive players benefit from fast progression to a greater degree.

    Online I liked UB for its slower progression. FT was only minutes less but the play had to be different. Yet, many players did better on FT. The need for aggression/risk accelerates and some players understand that better or have a style it rewards.

    In a negative context one might say that the overly aggressive don't spend as much time where their style is as vulnerable. Certainly more variance rewards some.

    Sorry to depart from the subject. I really don't have the answer. While poker is an incomplete information game, your question seems to have too much of that for the moment...for me anyway.

  3. I have no idea. It's a great question and I look forward to the answer.

    Oddly enough though, I remember that this very book came up as a topic of conversation just last week at the table I was at in Vegas. A couple of "old-timers" were talking and one of them, a part time dealer at the Rio and formerly at the WSOP, was talking up the book. Apparently the author is actually a blackjack whiz who took his mathematically ability to poker tournaments.

    Perfect timing, MOJO, I'd almost forgotten about that discussion (and the book) until I saw your post!

  4. @Rob: The old-timer had his facts straight.

    I used to think 2+2 forums were worth-while and frequented them (no longer -- too many know-it-alls). When the book was reviewed, Mason Malmuth had some quibbles. Snyder became defensive and jumped in there (actually, I think he posted as his wife, lol). Malmuth then basically said 2+2 could help him sell a lot of books, so he should not "fight back" or else!! It was both comical and sad, actually.

  5. Snyder didn't back down from Malmuth. Here's a fairly harsh article where he rebuts Malmuth (even though it might have cost him book sales):

    See here