So I've played a handful of tournaments at this location over the past year. I was happily surprised when I first found out this location has regular tournaments as it is close to my home compared to a couple of the larger Tournament facilities in Sac. My excitement soon turned to disappointment. Out of the last 4 times I've played tournaments here, I have experienced one mounting disappointment after another. The most recent tournament I played summed up my frustrations with this venue.
I showed up 5 minutes prior to the posted start time to register and hopefully sit right down into game play. I was told by the Tournament Director(TD) that they were going to start late to wait for additional sign ups. I was told that we had 13 players currently signed up.
Is it just me? I find it extremely frustrating when a tournament is scheduled to start at a certain time, and it doesn't. I associate late starts with poorly managed events, and from a fundamental principle standpoint, why would you want to reward people for showing up late. You say it starts at 7pm, then reward those for showing up on time by starting the tournament on time. I understand if you don't have enough players to start the tournament, but when there are 13 players here and ready to play-play!
In addition to starting late, the seat assignment was far from random. Most tournament location have a process for random assignment of seat positions--for obvious reasons. Here, due to a lack of sophisticated automated processes for seat assignments, they use a card draw for seat positions. The TD lays cards face down that the tournament player picks from. The card the player picks represents the table (by suit) and the seat (by card number). Seems reasonable enough! However, on my last visit the TD reached into the stack of cards, face up, and picked out a card for me. Where's the randomness there?
OK, so now I'm in my seat, hand picked by the TD, and the tournament has started, late. About 20 minutes into the tournament a new player comes and sits down at our table. He has no card for seat position, as I did when starting the tournament. The new player sits down on the button and to his left are two vacant seat position with chips. The dealer ask to see his seat position card, and he says that he didn't have one. The dealer calls over to the TD to ask about seat assignment and the TD looks over at the table and says to the dealer, "He's fine where he is." Are these guys friends? It seems to me to be very advantageous seating position, as if the table folds around to this player, he snatches up blinds uncontested.
One of the other players at the table tells our new player (It seemed like they had played here together before) that he can add-on chips to his stack for an additional amount, which he opts to do. I, unaware of this chip add-on, asked the TD if I could do the same. He said "no," explaining that I had to do it when I first sat down. Nice to know! No where in the advertisement for this tournament does it say there is an add-on, and on PokerAtlas it actually states that there are no add-ons. When I registered for the tournament, the TD did not mention this add-on. Once again, is this something the TD only tells his friends or regulars to the tournament. In addition, technically the new players was in his 4 or 5th hand before he added on. I thought you had to do it when you first sat down?
The final fail of this location was simple tournament management. In most tournaments I've played, TDs keep the amount of players at each remaining table balanced so that there is a balanced exposure to blinds for all players. About half way through this tournament with 15 players remaining, our table lost a two players and we were down to 5 players on our table with 8 remaining on the other table. I sat there through 7 hands with the tables unbalanced before I said something to the dealer, who then called the TD, who then balanced the amount of players at each table.
All in all this venue has a feel of a home game with little accountability and equitability and a lack of basic fundamentals of a legitimate tournament. In a time when Hold'em is flourishing in our area and competition for players is fierce, I expect more!