Mid-States Poker Tour Adopts New "Kessler Approved" Tournament Structure

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Mid-States Poker Tour Adopts New

The fifth season of the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) is off to a strong start. Mark Sandness won the first stop at Running Aces, and last week Shawn Schoreck emerged victorious at the Belle of Baton Rouge. Next, from March 1-9, the MSPT will be at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary, IN for the very first time.

Other big news coming from the MSPT was the announcement that the tour will be enacting a new, player-friendly structure that was designed with the help of Allen Kessler. In other words, the MSPT is now “Kessler Approved.”

The structure underwent a number of changes, including the length of each level from 50 minutes to 40 minutes. The exception is the final table, which will feature hour-long levels. In addition, a 10-minute break will be taken after every three levels instead of every two. The changes have allowed numerous levels to be added including 150/300/25; 250/500/50; and 500/1,000/100, just to name a few.

You can see the new MSPT structure by clicking here.

The new structure will be used for the first time at the Ho-Chunk Gaming Wisconsin Dells stop from Mar. 15-23, 2014. PokerNews recently spoke with Bryan Mileski, owner and operator of the MSPT, on the new changes.

Why did you decided to enact a new structure?

When I started the tour in December of 2009, I simply took the Venetian Deep Stack structure at that time and brought it to the Upper Midwest. Two-day events in that region were unheard of. All major events including $1,000 buy-ins were one day. It’s still a good structure.

Over the last couple of years, players have become spoiled and want even $300 events to last three days. If your tournament doesn’t include every single level, you’ll hear how shitty it is - though I am still a big believer that an imperfect structure is better for poker. It gives amateurs a chance to be successful, which long term is better for the growth of the game, creating larger prize pools and more fish for the pros to feast on.

If the structure is too good, the amateurs have less success and stop coming back — then all you have left is pros — who then stop coming as well. I’ve had this philosophy since I started the tour which is why I believe it has grown so fast. I’ve heard Mike Sexton and Matt Savage speaking out recently supporting this view.

Mid-States Poker Tour Adopts New "Kessler Approved" Tournament Structure 101
Allen Kessler

Surprisingly the pros think a longer structure is better for them. I disagree. I think an above-average structure is the best thing for the pros.This way, the amateurs still have a shot, yet the pros should be able to adapt better at different stages thus still giving them a significant edge. There’s a reason why Everett Carlton, Mark Sandness, Kou Vang, Pat Steele, Brett Kuznia and others have constant success on the MSPT. They know the structure well and play it better than others.

What exactly has changed and why?

The biggest challenge for the MSPT is that we are designed for the weekend warriors – players with daytime jobs who want a big prize pool on the weekend where they don’t have to pay significant travel expenses to play multiple events – thus we really want to finish on a Sunday night rather than Monday. And, we want to broadcast at a decent time Sunday evening because we get thousands of viewers. So the structure we go to has to fit in that timeframe.

To make it fit, there were a couple of key levels in the old structure we skipped on Day 2. Our attempt with the new structure is to make it extremely smooth, so there are no big jumps. To do that, we have gone from 50-minute levels to 40-minute levels throughout. This way we don’t skip a level, and the players actually get more playing time because we are taking breaks every three levels rather than every two in this format. Then, we go to one-hour levels at the final table when the big money is on the line.

Why did you turn to Allen Kessler for help in this endeavor?

Kessler made an appearance at our Baton Rouge event last weekend so we just got to talking. Obviously most consider him to be an authority on structures so I took the opportunity to get his advice. In this instance, I spoke with him and helped him understand the goal of the tour and the timeframe we were trying to meet so that he could help determine a smoother structure that fits, rather than just adding more levels and finishing on Monday where a large majority of our fields have work issues. What’s great for us now is that the structure is “Chainsaw Approved” giving us a lot of credibility nationally.

What has early feedback been in regards to the structure change?

Almost all of the feedback I’ve heard has been extremely positive. Obviously you can never please everybody. No matter what you do there will be players who love to complain. I think overall most of the great players take the Mike Schneider approach – “Great players adapt to the structure, bad players try to adapt the structure.”

PokerNews will be live reporting the entirety of the MSPT's fifth season. Here’s a look at the remaining schedule:

Mar. 1-9, 2014Majestic Star CasinoGary, Indiana$200K
Mar. 7-17, 2014Golden Gates CasinoBlackhawk, Colorado$200K
Mar. 15-23, 2014Ho-Chunk Gaming WI DellsBaraboo, WI$200K
Mar. 29-Apr. 6, 2014Meskwaki CasinoTama, Iowa$300K
Apr. 19-27, 2014Canterbury ParkShakopee, Minnesota$200K
May 10-18, 2014FireKeepers CasinoBattle Creek, Michigan$200K
July 19-27, 2014Meskwaki CasinoTama, Iowa$300K
Aug. 9-17, 2014Grand Falls CasinoSioux Falls, South Dakota$150K
Aug. 16-24, 2014Majestic Star CasinoGary, Indiana$200K
Aug. 23-31, 2014Belle of Baton Rouge CasinoBaton Rouge, Louisiana$100K
Aug. 30-Sep. 7, 2014TBATBA$200K
Sep. 13-21, 2014Running Aces Harness ParkColumbus, MN$200K
Sep. 20-28, 2014Ho-Chunk Gaming WI DellsBaraboo, WI$200K
Oct. 11-18, 2014FireKeepers CasinoBattle Creek, Michigan$200K
Nov. 1-9, 2014Meskwaki CasinoTama, Iowa$300K
Nov. 7-17, 2014Golden Gates CasinoBlackhawk, Colorado$200K
Dec. 6-14, 2014Canterbury ParkShakopee, Minnesota$200K

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PR & Media Manager

PR & Media Manager for PokerNews, Podcast host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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