Late Registration In Online Poker Tournaments

Most Sites Now Offer Late Registration – This Article Looks At The Pros And Cons
Of Using It From A Player’s Perspective

Late registration into poker tournaments is a relatively recent innovation. Pokerstars started offering this a couple of years ago, with the other sites adding the ability to join a tournament which is already running one-by-one after this.

Today you can register late in a tournament at most poker sites. There are some obvious benefits, no more frustration of missing your favorite game due to a 5 minute delay, and no more having to pre-register to make sure you were in – only to get delayed and blind away.

Poker sites are laughing, they have many more players in each game thanks to the late reg. While this sounds great on paper, from the players perspective it can be a negative. I have joined tournaments with a few hundred people registered myself – only an hour later to realize that the field grew to 2,000 or more and that this was going to be one very late night!

I’ll look at pros and cons of late tournament registration below.

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Late Reg In Poker Tournaments – The Pros

For me the single biggest positive is that you can choose from many more tournaments in your preferred buy-in / game combination when you sit down to play. You not only have the ones about to start at various sites, you’ll have all the ones which started in the last hour (can be longer) too. Sure, the current blind levels might be a little high in some games – however your choice should be expanded, which can only be a good thing.

I already mentioned those times you might have missed your games by 5 minutes, the later registration takes the stress away from getting to your computer… and that extra few minutes invested in chatting with the family or other-half could be the difference between a good weekend and a great one!! You do not have to pre-register for bigger games (for example the big Sunday tournaments at various sites) to avoid the risk of missing the start nowadays either - I have lost buy-ins before now when real-life got in the way!

With bigger fields the prize pools are bigger too. Of course this has its own caveats (see below). However big prizes are always a ‘pro’ my mind.

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Late Reg In Poker Tournaments – The Cons

The main negative for me is uncertainty about the size of the field. Sometimes we all get a little tired and just do not feel like fighting through fields of several 1000 players… in which case there is an element of ‘gamble’ in registering for an unknown game where there is late registration. Guess I should join the 180 SNGs with all the 12-tabling nits under these circumstances instead!

There used to be opportunities for ‘overlays’ in poker tournaments. Situations where the prize pool was bigger than the sum of buy-ins (meaning free prize money for the entrants!) With late registration any significant overlay is displayed for all to see, and will quickly disappear as enterprising players take advantage.

My final con is more of a dilemma. When the blinds are very high, as in 7% of your stack or more then you will need to gamble quickly with your stack after joining late. In the case of turbo tournaments this is fairly common. When the blinds are small, no problem – it is in that middle-zone of 20 to 25 big blind stacks that joining late becomes a more difficult decision. My perspective is that good players, who can make the adjustments quickly and get fast reads / make assessments of their opponents, can get away with this. Beginners and those still improving their tournament game could well be better off joining late only when the blinds are smaller (say 25 / 50 max). This leaves more opportunity to understand the flow of your table or to hit a big hand and build those chips ready for a deep run.

Late Registration – Final Thoughts And A Far More Important Factor!

On balance these are a good innovation, with some sites now expanding them beyond the usual 1 hour I wonder if things will end up getting out of hand… though the blind increases should put a cap on how long late reg can go on for. I remember vividly missing my favorite games by 2 minutes and the frustration this used to bring – so the uncertain field sizes are not such a big price to pay.

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