The death of the 6-figure buy-in poker tournament

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Jan 28, 2012 Posted in Aussie Poker News, Tournament News | No Comments »

As quickly as the idea of six-figure buy-in poker tournaments came into fashion last year, it seems, like the latest fashion trend, that there shelf-life was no more than Season as they have just as quickly become passé in the poker world judging by the attendance numbers from the Aussie Millions.

When you consider that last year three $100k buy-in tournaments were held, all with solid attendance numbers, not to mention a hastily thrown together $250k tournament that attracted 20 participants, the proposed $1,000,000 buy-in tournament at the 2012 WSOP, and Full Tilt Poker flirting with the idea of a tournament series featuring nothing but six-figure buy-in events, it appeared that the “wave of the future” in poker was going to be ultra-high-stakes tournaments.

Well, just a year later, and one epic blow to the poker economy thanks to Black Friday, it appears that six-figure buy-in tournaments may already be going the way of the dodo, at least at the Aussie Millions. Here is a look at the attendance numbers from the $100k Super-High-Roller tournament at the PokerStars PCA; the $100k Challenge at the Aussie Millions; and the $250k Challenge at the Aussie Millions:

* 2011 PCA Super-High-Roller 39 entrants: 2012 PCA Super-High-Roller 29 entrants

* 2011 Aussie Millions $100k Challenge 38 entrants: 2012 Aussie Millions $100k Challenge 22 entrants

* 2011 Aussie Millions $250k Challenge 20 entrants: 2012 Aussie Millions $250k Challenge 16 entrants

Furthermore, these numbers are only telling half of the story when you consider that in 2011 Full Tilt Poker players avoided the PCA and PokerStars players avoided the Aussie Millions; in 2012 these two player pools were combined and the attendance was still down dramatically across the board!

An even more ominous omen for the $250k tournament is the fact that the tournament organizers (and potential players) had a year’s notice of the event, not the days given last year.

Of the 16 entrants in the $250k Challenge on Saturday, four were Chinese businessmen, with the rest of the field made up by the most successful poker players in the world –the small group of multi-millionaire poker players.

In a previous article I talked about key factors for a tournaments success and of the utmost importance is GROWTH. A sharp decline in your second and third running is not going to keep the buzz going for these tournaments, especially when players look to the real possibility that next year’s event may be a single-table-tournament!

While I think there is a place for $100k events in the current poker world (the $100k Challenge managed to attract 22 participants just two weeks after the PCA $100k Super-High-Roller pulled in 29 entrants halfway across the globe) unless it is played as a stand-alone event, perhaps even bi-annually, I don’t think we will be seeing too many tournament organizers trying to put together a $250k buy-in event anytime soon.

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