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Late Registration in poker: pros and cons

October 22, 2019

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Late Registration is a common feature in both online and live poker tournaments. Why do poker rooms allow players to enter these games after they’ve started running? Is there any advantage in waiting to register? Read our thoughts below.

What is Late Registration?

Multi-Table Tournaments (MTTs) often allow new players to join for a period after the start time of the event. These players receive the same starting stack as the rest of the players who played from the beginning, but they have lower “effective stacks” because the blinds have usually gone up.

There can be a significant increase in entrants for tournaments with long periods of Late Registration. Even at Replay, where Late Registration is usually 15 minutes or less, the number of entrants can double in the Late Registration period.

Why is Late Registration allowed?

Replay starts all tournaments at 0, 15, 30, and 45 minutes past the hour. Without Late Registration, anyone looking for a tournament to play would have to wait until the next quarter hour before they could start actually playing.

Late Registration increases the prize pool. This means the Guaranteed amount that can be applied to the tournament is higher. Tournaments with no Late Registration that start with about 25-30 players will have a Guarantee of up to 30 times the entry, whereas the same tournament with Late Registration would have a Guarantee of 50-60 times the entry.

Is Late Registration an advantage?

There has been much discussion, including Replay Poker’s own forum.

Different people see Late Registration in different ways. Some are annoyed that they joined a tournament with 30 players and find there are 70 or more by the time Late Registration closes. But this also means that the prize pool will have increased, along with the number of prizes paid. While 30-player events pay out five prizes, 70-player events pay upwards of 15 prizes.

Another point of debate is that the downside to starting from the beginning is you aren’t guaranteed to have a full starting stack 10-15 minutes into the tournament, like those who join in Late Registration. You may even get knocked out. However, you do importantly give yourself the opportunity to win more chips and observe your opponents if you play from the start.

Registering late for a rebuy event will probably save you having to risk losing your chips for very long because of aggressive opponents, but it also means you’ll start with a much shorter amount than the average stack held by the rest of the players.

What’s the best approach?

Do whatever suits you!

Because nobody has really been able to prove one way or the other whether it’s much better to start on time or late, Late Registration offers a flexible way to join poker tournaments.

If you can’t make the start time, you can still start with a full stack instead of registering early and playing with a depleted stack when you get seated. But by joining late when you could have played from the start, you might miss out on some easy chips from the casual players and sit-outs who are always knocked out fairly early.