PLAINS TOWNSHIP – The larger buy-in monthly tournaments in the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs poker room essentially have done everything they were intended to do.
“We’re busier,” poker-room manager Art Blanda said Saturday night about an hour after a seven-and-a-half-hour tournament ended.
As Blanda spoke with midnight approaching, 16 of the 18 tables were still in operation.
The only negative in the two sold-out, $285 no limit hold ’em tournaments so far is that cash-game players accustomed to walking in and finding a seat have had to wait while the room overflowed around the starting time of the event.
Eventually, the players start getting eliminated and as each 10 are gone, the fully staffed room is ready to open another table for whatever cash play seems most appropriate.
February’s tournament moved slightly faster than January’s. The first time around nobody was eliminated for an hour. This time, one bold player was gone after 13 minutes.
The end came almost an hour sooner.
A little more than an hour after the 2 p.m. Saturday event started, one table was available for cash play. In less than two hours, two had cleared. In less than three, four were available.
The room remained packed. Some players excitedly continued to chase the $29,100 tournament prize pool, which included $9,225 for first.
The cash-game players, some of whom had been frustrated by a wait, now had full tables, often with shorter waiting lists that made it clear games would not break up as the day progressed, and with some new faces providing competition.
The next step may be to expand on this success, but a delicate balance remains. Try to grow too much more, too fast, and the momentum can be lost.
“We’re trying to think about ways to do it,” Blanda said. “It’s possible we’ll try something new in the future.”
The room is approved to handle only 120 tournament players, and significant alterations would need to be made to change that. Blanda has considered a three-day format, with two “first days” of the event to allow for 120 players each on perhaps a Friday and Saturday, with the remaining players after a certain amount of time on each of those days returning to finish on Sunday.
That format could double the tournament but would require a strong turnout each of the first two days.
Otherwise, managerial and fairness problems could develop.
Some day there could be a tournament bigger than $285, but for one-day events, drawing primarily from the local player pool, there is always a question of when does a bigger buy-in stop meaning bigger prizes and start pricing players out?
Progress does not require immediacy.
Carefully assessing the next move seems a logical and admirable approach.
For the week of Feb. 14-Feb. 20:
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs
Fiscal year to date: $1,798,410,630.21
Fiscal year to date: $1,618,677,487.79
Mount Airy Casino & Resort
Fiscal year to date: $1,279,016,269.17
Fiscal year to date: $1,158,638,550.89
GAMING CONTROL BOARD