Pokerstars announced at the beginning of the week that its 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will feature two new “Double Bubble” tournaments. In these new events, PokerStars will stretch the payout structure so that more players can take home a cut of the prize pool. In fact, prize money will be distributed to 50 percent of the field rather than the typical nine final table players.
“Most of us in the business have come to believe that paying out more of the field is better,” wrote PokerStars’ Head of Poker Communications Lee Jones. “That is, increasing the number of players who get something back is preferable to putting an extra bonus on top of the already staggering size of the prizes at the top.”
So working from that belief, and with the goal of awarding paid places to as many players as possible, PokerStars developed the “Double Bubble” tournaments. How they work is that the introduction of a second bubble gives half the field the possibility to take home some prize money. The name itself is “borrowed and adapted” from the name of a classic brand of American bubble gum.
Under the new format, half of the original starting field will receive a refund on their buy-in amount as soon as that point is reached in an event. The players that reach this level will immediately be refunded, without wasting time in queue at the cashier.
“When we get down to half the field, we’re going to return the original buy-in to all remaining players,” Jones explained. “So suppose it’s a $1000+$100 event with 80 runners. When 40 players are left, we walk around and drop $1100 in cash (or chips) in front of each of the remaining 40 players.”
When this cash giveaway is complete, all the remaining players will restart play to reach the second bubble, which marks the moment when the people still in play will be able to add extra money to their buy-in refund.
“The money that’s left is distributed in an eight-percent payout structure,” Jones continued, showing how the new structure does not dramatically change the standard payout model, which generally distributes prizes to approximately 10 percent of the field.
“So there are really two bubbles — [one] at 50 percent of the field and [one at] eight percent of the field,” Jones said.
While the main idea behind the new “Double Bubble” events is to increase the overall fun by increasing the number of places paid, Jones admitted that the decision also came about by looking at the deals that are often made at final tables.
“Look at all the final-table deals,” Jones stated. “If everybody really wanted that almost unimaginably large first prize, then deals wouldn’t happen. But in point of fact, they happen almost all the time. No matter whether it’s nervous amateurs afraid of playing for huge sums or seasoned pros trying to reduce the variance, there seems to be a universal appetite for deal making.”
Another major factor in the creation of the new format came from looking at the way players approach the bubble, and that many look forward to scoring even a min-cash because they have something to show for their game.
“Let’s talk about the bubble,” Jones said. “For all the people who talked about not wanting to min-cash, look at the wave of ‘chip and a chair’ behavior as the bubble approaches. Those people are not making ICM-optimal decisions to maximize their chances for a final table; they’re doing whatever it will take to get to the money. The very smallest minimum payoff.
“My point is this: whatever people’s plans and dreams are at the beginning of a tournament, for most folks there comes a point where locking up some money right now is preferable to the possibility of more money later,” said Jones. “Call it the ‘bird in the hand’ theory.”
The first-ever $2,200 “Double Bubble” Pokerstars event is set to start at the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure on January 5, while the second one — with identical buy-in and structure — will begin on January 8.