Negreanu Lashes Out at EPT on Late Registration, But Was He Right?

Daniel Negreanu

Regardless if it is on or off the felts, if there is one thing Negreanu is known for, it’s getting poker players talking; this time it was regarding late tournament registration and the EPT in particular.

The issue at hand is whether or not it is the right decision for those in charge of tournaments and their accompanying rules to penalize or remove blinds from the stacks given to players who register late, or if they should be given full starting stacks.

About a week ago, Negreanu kick started this topic again, when he tweeted “Please tell the floor (at) EPT London that late registration without a fresh starting stack is absurdly wrong. PokerStars, WSOP, WPT do it right”, then continuing, “The buy in for the high roller is £20,000 but if (you) decide to skip the early levels and the rest EPT tourney directors will penalize your stack!”. Daniel then wrapped up his latest rant with “Players LOVE the option of late registration so MOST tours cater to them, but not the EPT guys. They are driving me absolutely crazy.”

In the end, Negreanu would end up skipping a few of the events he would normally play, sparking a bit of debate on the subject via twitter, the poker media and forums. Well respected voices of the poker community, Matt Savage for one, would ultimately offer a few opinions without stepping on any toes in the process.

A few weeks back, when released a news piece regarding Edmonton’s policy on re-entry, we received some great feedback via FaceBook and the comments left by readers. In my opinion, these two elements of tournament poker go hand in hand and though we left it out then as not to clutter then, this recent debate leaves me wondering what players think.

I’ll be honest. My gut reaction in this instance was that was just another example of a top player throwing a tantrum when things were not the way they wanted them to be; my @ replies clearly reflect this, but after reading more by other players, I don’t find it as cut and dry.

Perhaps because being a recreational player that is expected to show up to work on time has clouded my interpretation of the rule, though I have been playing long enough to remember the days when all starting stacks where put in play, blinded off, pulled at the close of registration and if you didn’t show up on time, there was a very good chance you would be shut out of a tournament or placed on an alternate list.

Over the past years, with late registration for the first 4 levels pretty standard, it seemed to me that casinos eventually stopped putting out extra stacks, but would remove a certain amount of blinds per level, then more recently, just started handing out fresh stacks as long as you made it before the cut off. I wasn’t sure if this was just to save labour or sanity as things got hectic in the room.

The problem many of those that show up on time see is that while they have been paying blinds for hours, the player who just arrived hasn’t and it just seems a bit off. Even those that have pre-registered but didn’t make it to the table yet will likely be blinding off, where as if they hadn’t secured a seat, they would be starting fresh. It almost seems backwards in which players are rewarded by the system.

The other side of the argument is that by giving out fresh stacks, players are encouraged and given the flexibility to make those tough last minute decisions that ultimately build a bigger prize-pool. If they feel too disadvantaged, chances are they will pass and besides that, Barry Carter put it perfectly in his article about this, saying “Let us not forget also that our target audience, poker players, are among the tardiest consumers in the world. If we are going to start penalising them for being late, we may as well fine people for being drunk in bars.”

Personally, that statement makes me wonder, “Is my own opposition to fresh starting stacks motivated a little by jealousy or lifestyle?” Really, just because some players can afford to fly by the seat of their pants, while others can’t isn’t a good enough reason to not see both sides and besides the late risers, I can certainly relate to being stuck in traffic, last minute business, etc.

All excuses aside, it was once again world renowned tournament director Matt Savage posting on 2+2 that is swaying my opinion in favor of fresh starting stacks after pointing out a few very valid points.

Matt pointed to overall tournament chip counts; not putting out full starting stacks leaves a ton of room for error and opens the door for collusion/cheating. We all can easily determine roughly how many chips are supposed to be in play, minus a bit of rounding when color ups occur. Complicate this further and it?s easy to see several ways where things could go wrong.

Savage, along with many other players, also pointed out that blinds and average stacks will also be higher, though most of the field will still remain, leaving the late registrant mathematically disadvantaged by comparison.

On top of that, these players have missed the opportunity to evaluate all the hands that were dealt prior to their arrival and will have missed out on much of the “dead money” at the beginning stages, particularly in events that have allowed players less experienced at higher buy ins to satellite in.

When weighed against these points and considering the positive result of larger prize-pools not paying the blinds for a few levels becomes just too minimal of a perceived advantage to warrant the possible negative consequences of aggravating today’s players.

Given those points of views, it seems much easier to accept that his is the way the game has gone, what players expect and now it’s time to roll with it…making Negreanu’s sitting out and using his “star power” to influence change understandable to me.

But what do other players think? We would love to hear your take. All across Canada players can find casinos and examples of this rule, where do you play and how is it handled? Please leave your thoughts here in the comments section, in our forums or on our Facebook wall.

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Jon Harnish
35 year old recreational player, husband and father of three from Calgary, Alberta. Enjoy lower stakes cash games including PLO and limit Omaha 8. Any of the micro-stakes HORSE games will play online MTTS and SNGs. Live, Tournaments and Satellites up to $550. I love the game but am far to social to take it seriously and sometimes give up a little to much information at the table because I enjoy discussing the game, so decided it was safest for my bankroll to take up writing about the game. That way I still get to meet the cool people and opinions on the game, but with a little less risk. Writing wise, currently a regular contributor to Poker Pro Canada, like to write profiles, previews and recaps the most. formally wrote for Canadian Poker Player Canada. My Poker Blogs have been featured on CardPlayer Social and SpadeClub as "Recommended" or in newsletters on several occasions and Pokerweblogs as "Blog of the Month". Past projects included organizing and promoting major events with the Canadian Poker Tour, introducing Big Slick Poker Tour to Southern Alberta and directing events and finals.


  1. In my opinion – without some sort of penalty the published start times for tournaments will just start becoming the “start time + 4 levels”. Ie. What do we do when 50percent or more of the field decide to enter at the 4 level mark? As most fields consist of less than 10 per cent pros – shouldn’t the casinos be catering to the other 90per cent? I’d be out of business if I only catered to 10 percent of my clients.


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