A note published by PokerStars on Monday announced that the 2015 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will feature two "Double Bubble" tournaments. With this new series of events, PokerStars plans to stretch the payout structure to the point that it will distribute prizes to 50 percent of the field.
"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."
Keeping this in mind, and with the precise goal to enlarge the amount of places paid as much as possible, PokerStars has come up with the so-called "Double Bubble" tournaments — a format where the introduction of a second bubble gives half of the field the possibility to bring something home.
"Being the marketing geniuses we are," Jones joked, "we borrowed and adapted the name of a classic American bubble gum and called these tournaments 'Double Bubble.'"
According to this new format, half of the original starting field will receive a refund on the buy-in as soon as that point is reached in an event. The players that achieve this will be immediately refunded, without the need to spend 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."
Once this "giveaway" will be completed, all the players will restart to play to get to the second bubble, the one that marks the moment when the ones still in play will be able to add some extra money to their buy-in.
"The money that's left is distributed in an eight-percent payout structure," Jones continued, showing how the new structure does not come with a dramatic erosion of the standard payout model, which generally distribute 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.
Deals, Bubble Play, and the "Bird in the Hand" Theory
While the main idea behind the new "Double Bubble" events is to increase the fun by increasing the number of places paid, Jones admitted that the decision came also 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 that pushed towards the creation of the new format is the way people approach the bubble, and the way many look forward to score even just a min-cash, even if not everyone likes to admit it.
"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."
So, in this sense, it made sense to cut a small part out of the tournament's top prize and make sure this could be allocated in a way that would make possible to stretch the payout structure to the maximum.
"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" 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.