I'm looking for some big picture perspective from those who have run medium/large unlimited entry tournaments with regard to how the entry fees are managed. More specifically, tournaments that run as part of a multi-day show where players are also required to pay an admission fee to enter the building. I know there must be a few of you around here!
I've always had a problem with these types of events where the payout structure isn't clearly defined, creating a grey area between the number of entries and the payouts. Most recently, I took issue with a tournament like this where the event description regarding prizes was:
"All players have to be present to receive their prize. Awards for each tournament will be given out shortly after each tournament. Price are based on 200 entries in the Tournament."
Yes, that's a straight copy/paste and I don't know what the last sentence means either, considering it was a one ticket per game Herb format. Then the official rules Google document gave this even more vague description:
"Prize pool is based on tournament entries"
That's it. No dollar amounts, no guaranteed prize pool amount, no percentages.
So as a player going into this type of tournament, what is reasonable to expect? I simply expect that the admission to the show will fund the show and the tournament entries will pay out as prizes after tournament expenses are subtracted (trophies, software, TD payment, etc). Maybe I'm off in my expectations since I've never been in charge of an event like this, but it seems wrong for the money from one side to cross into the other, but if it must, I'd at least expect some transparency about the allotment of funds. Then I could make an informed decision about whether or not I want to participate.
Regarding pre-announced payouts, is it necessary for an unlimited entry event to list a payout structure in advance of the event? I think so. I can't think of any reason that an established event wouldn't be able to give a clear description of payouts unless they had something to hide or were just plain lazy. At this particular event, the TDs were completely in the dark about payouts until playoffs day when the show organizer handed them an amount of money that was far below the estimated amount taken in, resulting in payouts that they were actually embarrassed to give to players who had traveled from out of state and finished in the top 16. The scorekeeping software made it clear after the fact that the number of entries played should have resulted in a much larger prize pool than was paid out. I realize none of us are playing tournaments to get rich or pay the bills, but at what point do you just laugh when you finish well and the prize money is so low that it's funny? At what point do you question where all the money went? At that point it's too late to change anything, so oh well, I guess! That's pinball?
With so many events happening now, it's very easy to spot the ones that are operating responsibly and support them, so that's a good thing! It's just a shame that there are some offenders of basic transparency who continue to operate with sketchy management without being called out. I've made a conscious effort not to name the tournament in question because I'm honestly looking more for general feedback than shaming anyone in particular. However, I can't help but wonder if it would be helpful to have a "tournament ethics black list" so players know what they're getting into before traveling to an event, and in the end maybe it would help those events step up their game and do things the right way. I could also see that getting ugly and counterproductive though.
Anyway, this was longer than expected, but I've been harboring these feelings for a while and felt like this would be the proper place to have an open discourse. Please discuss and share your thoughts.