LAPT5 Colombia: The rubber band point

August 10, 2012

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lapt-promo.gifI made a note last hour of the fact that the average stack, in terms of big blinds, has been continuing to decline over the course of Day 2 here in Medellin, contrary to expectations. It’s becoming a repeat of the LAPT Colombia event last season, when the average stack dipped as low as 16 big blinds at the final table. There’s no readily apparent explanation for it.

Relative to the blinds, the average stack at all poker tournaments declines over time. Players start with, say, 200 big blinds as they did here in Medellin. As the blinds increase, a stack that was worth 200 big blinds in Level 1 becomes worth 133 big blinds in Level 2 (for example). Of course, player eliminations help consolidate chips, allowing players to “keep up” with the blind increases. But the blinds increase faster than players bust, forcing the average stack size (in terms of big blinds) steadily downwards.

Eventually the tournament should reach a “rubber band point” – a phrase first coined by tournament director Matt Savage – beyond which the average stack size will not decline. At that point, the pace of eliminations matches the pace of blind increases to keep the average stack size always near the rubber band point.

The rubber band point changes based on the format of the tournament. Six-handed tournaments, which reward aggression, see the typical rubber band point at about 60 big blinds. In the prototypical 9-handed NLHE freezeout, the rubber band point is usually around 40 big blinds. In fixed-limit tournaments, the rubber band point is 10 big bets.

At other LAPT events, the 40-big-blind rubber band point usually holds. Once the average stack reaches 40 big blinds, it will remain roughly 40 big blinds for the rest of the tournament. Here in Medellin, however, the blinds have gone up to 2000-4000 for the start of Level 15 but the average stack is only 99,400, about 25 big blinds.

And the problem doesn’t stop there. As happened last year here in Medellin, there really aren’t any big stacks in the room to press the action. A quick spin through the room with about 20 minutes to go in Level 14 found several player around 200,000 in chips (about 67 big blinds at that time) but none larger. Simply put, a stack of 67 big blinds isn’t really big enough for a player to feel comfortable to push around other players at the table. Losing one hand to a stack that three-bets all in for 15 big blinds will quickly bring a “big stack” back to earth.

The upshot of not yet having reached the rubber band point is that the tournament will take longer to play out than tournament staff would normally expect for this type of event. Today the staff assumed that eight levels would get the number of players down to about 24, making for a short Day 3 tomorrow.

Those estimates are currently being revised.



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