Live MTT Diamonds in the Rough
Live multi-table tournaments (MTTs) can be great value with the help of a little game selection. Some tournaments, such as most WPT events, are actually quite tough since the field is typically filled with regulars. But some live MTTs have a ridiculously soft fields that are great for taking a shot at a big payday. Here are some live MTTs to consider booking a poker-related vacation to:
WSOP Circuit Events
The WSOP Circuit Events are ridiculously good value. This year, ten events take place each with a buy-in of $5,000. This buy-in is perfect since it's small enough that most pros won't travel to play in them, but large enough that a value-oriented MTT grinder can justify the few hundred in traveling expenses required to participate. Part of why I find these events appealing is that most of them take place in God forsaken parts of the U.S., like Iowa, Louisiana and Indiana. Basically there is nothing glamorous about traveling to these stops. The casinos are filled with depressing, low-energy slot machine grinders while annoying hits from the 1980s are played over the Harrah's property. Most WSOP Circuit Events are about as un-sexy as it gets.
Why does this matter? It matters because most savvy players loath the thought of traveling to participate in one of these events. But if you can stomach the terrible pop-tunes and mediocre food, there are some truly terrible poker players in these events. Many of them are casino regulars who satellite in for $500. For lower-bankrolled players, consider making a trip just to play the $500 satellites. They are soft enough that you might be able to win the $5k seat as much as 25-30% of the time.
Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza
The Venetian in Las Vegas holds a series of tournaments called the 'Deep Stack Extravaganza' four times per year. These are the best structured sub-$1,000 buy-in poker tournaments in the world. For a $300 entry fee, players receive 12,000 starting chips and 40-minute levels beginning with 25/50. You can't beat it. What makes these tournaments especially good value is that they are filled with casual players who think, "sure, I'll take a $300 shot in a poker tournament," but have no chance at remaining patient enough to avoid dusting off their entire stack in the early going.
Multi-table tournament players who can come up with a few thousand to risk on these events over several days in Vegas will be very pleased at the value they're getting for their money.
Partouche Poker Tour
One of the best kept secrets in the European live tournament scene for the past two years has been the Partouche Poker Tour. Held in France, this event carries a guaranteed prize pool of €3 million. The buy-in is quite large, €8,500, but if you can come up with that, expect to find one of the softest fields imaginable for such a large tournament. A friend who participated last year said that only about 50 of the 500 players were pros; the rest were inexperienced, amateur French satellite winners. This event starts again in two weeks in Cannes, France so it's not too late to capitalize on this easy field.
Heartland Poker Tour
The Heartland Poker Tour is a value-hunter's fantasy. It was created to give home-body types a chance to participate in a major poker tournament in a comfortable setting. The World Series of Poker and other similar events can be pretty intimidating to a lot of casual players from a small background who aren't accustomed to all the shiny lights of Vegas. What makes the Heartland Poker Tour so great is that it takes place in the most desolate of places all across the U.S. These events usually take place in Indian-owned casinos which means players as young as 18 can also participate. Unfortunately, the buy-in for these events is typically $1,500 (but sometimes as much as $3,000). For the $1,500 events, it's pretty hard to justify traveling very far to participate since one's expectation would be wiped out by all the traveling time and expenses.