I'm not impressed. I hate that I wasted an hour plus playing in the blackjack tournament, placed, and still basically nothing in return. When the tournament ended and I was kicked off the table, it said I was in 2nd place, but a few minutes later it popped up saying I finished 5th and received 2900 or so coins. I would have been better off just playing the BJ tables since I can typically win a few thousand in 10 minutes. Huge waste of time to win that little over an hour of nearly flawless play, on top of no RP. I really think they should at least reward RP for playing, maybe something similar to how Bingo works; if you play, you get some RP and if you win you get a lot more. Heck, you even get RP for bowling, so I think it would only be fair to get RP for entering tournaments. I love the challenge and competitiveness of a tournament, but it just isn't worth it with such a small prize pool. I played three different segment times and it said I was in the top 10 at the end of each session (2nd, 3rd, 8th place) but only once did I receive any payouts. Apparently the leaderboards are behind, but who knows? Once they go to the next segment, you can't even check what you actually finished. Either way, I can make way better money outside of the tournament. I would suggest adding some additional coins to each segment and overall, just to entice more players to enter, which drives payouts (and paid entries) even higher. There's no point in paying and re-entering the tournament knowing that at best, I'll profit win a few hundred coins.
You're right -- generally you can make more (or lose more) playing the tables rather than the tournament. The tournaments are self-funding so the payouts are based on the number of players and the admission fee. We've kept the admission fee quite affordable so it is not a barrier that would stop most player from trying it. In your case it sounds like you would like a larger tournament buy-in so there would be correspondingly larger payouts. At this time we don't have any plans to adjust that. The payouts are also skewed to the Top 3 so coming below that will not net a large payout. Also keep in mind that you are playing for the overall tournament win as well so potentially there's more reward there.
The tournaments also have unique reward items for the winners which are of interest to some players.
As for leaderboards, the leaderboard should show the previous tournament results for the first 15 minutes of the next tournament so you can take a look there. Toward the end the places can shift and many players end their games at similar times.
RP payouts are something we would have to discuss internally but thanks for the suggestion.