EPT11 Barcelona: How long will we play? The thinker, the feel player and the official give their views

August 26, 2014

We’re set for a long day in the Main Event today, all of which you can enjoy on the PokerStars Blog, with live coverage from start to finish on EPTLive. But the question of exactly how long this day will last has some people scratching their heads.

There are optimists, pessimists, realists and fantasists who have an opinion, some of which are detailed below.

The “thinking” player

“Using maths we can actually somewhat accurately predict when the final table should be reached. Twenty-five players survived the end of level 23, in which blinds were 15,000/30,000 ante 3,000. That meant the average stack was 1,795,200, or 59.84 big blinds in new money.

“But, as soon as play got under way today the blinds ticked up to 20,000/40,000 ante 5,000. Just like that the average stack was reduced to 44.88 big blinds. If we take the mid-point of those two numbers we get 52.36 big blinds.


The trophy on display. Will there be a winner before it rusts?

“There are 44,880,000 chips in play and eight players make the final table meaning that the average stack will be 5,610,000. If we divide that number by our midpoint – 52.36 – we get 107,142. So on average we should reach the final table when the big blind is 107,142. Despite the excellent EPT structure, I’m not sure we’ll be seeing a 53,571/107,142 level anytime soon.

“So logic dictates that the final table will be reached sometime during level 31 (the sixth level of the day), when the blinds will be 60,000/120,000 ante 20,000. Which, fact fans, is exactly what happened last year.

“It all means that for those watching in Europe, you should be able to follow all the action on EPTLive and still get a reasonable amount of sleep. Play should wrap up by around midnight, depending on if there’s a dinner break or not.”

The “feel” player

“Maths is one thing. But when you’ve been on the tour as long as some of us you understand that poker is a “feel” game, based on hunch–as demonstrated by hundreds of players across the EPT’s ten year history. They might not be the type you’ll find on Google, or in the payouts page of the EPT website, but their sheer number we know that this is a legitimate approach.

“So using hunch then we can take what we do know, fill in the gaps, and come up with an iron clad conclusion.

“We know for a fact that the final table in Barcelona is always a long one. Take Martin Schleich for instance, who when heads-up watched as his own supporters fell to their knees to beg him to end it once and for all. At least before the bar staff cut them off.


The Martin Schleich crowd, 12 hours before reality set in

“Schleich won that final in about 16 hours, from a field of 811. These are quite terrifying numbers. We have nearly twice that number of players in the Main Event this week. So at a rough guess that means the final table will last about 28 hours–perhaps 30. Thirty-two at the very most. This much is obvious.

“The only way we can prevent that is to play longer today. If we were to play, say, 23 hours today, we might just slash tomorrow’s final by six, maybe seven hours. At least then it would be manageable. We wrap up tonight at 11am tomorrow morning. Then we could be back two hours later to start the final table (on a one hour EPT Live delay) finishing at around noon on Thursday. This leaves ample time, well 45 minutes, to get to the airport and fly home.”

The expert

“We get the total chips in play, divide it by the total number of players – so eight for the final table – and figure out at what point they’re going to have between 50 and 60 big blinds, that should be the level at which we reach the final table.

“Of course it doesn’t always work like that. “Of course that’s a guesstimate, you can give or take a level there, pro players tend to get there quicker, they make more moves and there’s more action. If there’s a lot of amateurs they tend to stall more, the money jumps are big and not play as many hands as pro players.


Toby Stone has the official view of things

“It’s not just the final table they can accurately predict. ‘We can predict how many people will make it through from Day 1 with a very small margin of error. On an EPT we usually bring back about 55% of the field if we play eight levels. On a national tour it’s less, we usually bust 50-55% of the field after eight levels. The margin for error there is very small, one or two percent.

“I have figures from other years, how many players were left after each level in every single tournament so I can accurately guess in any tournament we run, how many players are going to be left after every level.”

None of which leaves us anymore the wiser as to when this day will end. Send your predictions to us on Twitter @PokerStarsBlog.

Follow all the action from the tournament floor on the main EPT Barcelona page. There’s hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top, including chip counts, and feature pieces below. There’s also EPTLive, which is streaming action from Day 5 of the Main Event.

Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog. Additional reporting by Nick “The Thinker” Wright.


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