Has Re-Entry Become the New Normal?

Kevin Mathers is a man of legendary patience, particularly at this time of year, when he takes to Twitter to field questions about the World Series of Poker from people who are some combination of new to poker, new to the series, generally clueless and/or too lazy to look things up for themselves.

As patient as he is, however, even he has reached the end of his rope when it comes to one particular question, responding in an increasingly snarky manner to people wondering whether the Monster Stack (WSOP Event #28, starting today) is a re-entry event. If that question happens to be on your own lips, please read the next paragraph before you go and ask him.

The Monster Stack is not a re-entry event. No, not even a single re-entry event. Yes, that means that if you bust Day 1A, you are out. No, you cannot then enter Day 1B. Yes, that’s what we call a “freezeout.” Man, I’m exhausted already. I don’t know how he does it.

As Kevin has pointed out repeatedly, the way you know it’s not a re-entry event is that the structure sheet makes no mention of re-entries. This is pretty basic, but it seems that some players have become so used to re-entry events that they believe any tournament with multiple starting flights may be presumed to be re-entry unless otherwise specified.

This argument is of significance if you’re trying to keep your finger on the pulse of poker, because it suggests that we might be coming to a tipping point in terms of the expectations of the poker-playing public. Just a few years ago, nearly all poker tournaments were freezeouts, and the first re-entry tournaments on the scene were quite controversial. If it’s really the case that players are beginning to think of re-entry as the default and freezeouts as the exception (even just for tournaments with multiple starting flights), that marks an amazingly rapid shift in public opinion in an industry which is often reactionary and resistant to change.

The arguments for and against re-entry events have been made so many times that I don’t see the need to rehash them here. What’s more interesting to me is that it suggests a rather short timescale for the world of poker to accept as normal a fairly major change, even one that is initially resisted by a significant percentage of players. It seems that all it takes is one major organization to stick with a concept for a few years – the World Poker Tour, in the case of re-entries – after which people will start to forget there was ever another way.

Most of all, it makes me wonder what a poker tournament will look like in 2020.

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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