2024 WSOP: What Is This Max Late Reg Controversy All About?

  • Max late reg is when players register right at the end of the late registration period
  • Players max late reg in order to start the tourney as close to the money as possible
  • Players have reported max late reggers sitting several minutes after registration closes
  • The WSOP said $10k+ buy-in players must be in the reg table line when the level changes
2024 WSOP tables and players
Many poker pros are voicing their complaints about max late reg players not taking their seats until well after the late registration period ends at the WSOP. [Image: PokerGO.com]

Cutting it close

There seems to be some sort of controversy at every World Series of Poker and this year, it looks like it’s “max late reg.” Now, I should say that the word “controversy” here is probably not the greatest (dare I say it’s controversial?), as it seems most poker players are on the same side of the issue, but it’s been a topic of contention so far at the 2024 WSOP, so let’s talk about it.

I’ll be honest: when I first heard the term “max late reg” however many years ago, my gamer brain thought it was new video game lingo. There are gaming terms like “min-maxing” and “hit reg,” so I just thought it was some combination of those. But no, it’s a poker thing, short for “maximum late registration.”

could literally skip an entire day

Max late regging is the practice of registering for a tournament as late into the late registration period as possible. For example, players could register for last week’s $25,000 High Roller Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em through the end of Level 9, or about 1pm on Day 2. They could literally skip an entire day, which is where much of the gripes lie.

Rubbing players the wrong way

It may seem counterproductive to register late when one doesn’t have to, and it certainly can be. With so many blind levels gone, the player’s starting chip stack is now quite short, only about 20 big blinds, sometimes 15, depending on the tournament and the timing. There’s not much room to wait on strong hole cards or play around much post-flop.

The reason that people do it, though, is, as mentioned earlier, to skip a whole bunch of the tournament. By the time a max late reg player sits down, they often don’t have much longer until the money bubble bursts. They can’t just wait – they probably still have to find at least a double-up somewhere – but there are fewer hands to get through before the money.

That’s frustrating for many players in and of itself, but at the 2024 WSOP, another related issue has been chapping hides: max late reg players not even finding their seats until well after late registration closes.

Poker pro Chris Brewer has been one of the loudest voices, urging the WSOP to fix this. He even said that he himself max late regged and he still went through two orbits before other max late reg players sat down.

So, not only are max late reg players starting the tournament closer to the money than most players (with the aforementioned downsides), but they are now pushing that advantage even further, angle shooting the late registration process, as it were.

Players speak out, WSOP responds

Generally, players have been on Brewer’s side. Most aren’t against late registration in general, but rather the latest max late reg “exploit.” In the tweet that effectively set off this whole discussion, Brewer suggested pausing the tournament so all max late reg players could be seated, but VP of the World Series of Poker and Caesars Digital Jack Effel shot that down, telling PokerNews that it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the players and would just extend the day.

Isaac Haxton called the max late reg seating problems a “pretty serious game integrity issue” and had what seems to be a logical solution: adjust event schedules so that late registration closes when a break is scheduled. That way, stragglers have time to get to their seats when hands are not being dealt.

He also added in a reply that edges players gain away from the tables are more difficult to govern and create a “cutthroat, hustling atmosphere that is no fun.”

Justin Bonomo said the rule should be as simple as if a player isn’t seated before late registration ends, they don’t get to play, with the exception of someone busting out right on the cusp of late registration and wanting to re-enter.

To that end, the WSOP did announce a change to the late registration rules on Sunday:

In a follow-up to a question from Chris Brewer about the last-minute elimination scenario that Bonomo mentioned, the WSOP said there are no exceptions.

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