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My Fantasy Poker Tournament

The ultimate tournament

by Daniel Negreanu |  Published: Aug 01, 2007

The main reason that I play in poker tournaments at all is that I think they are a fun and excellent way to compete. They are a great way to test your skills against the best in the world. For me to really enjoy myself in a poker tournament, though, something meaningful and prestigious needs to be associated with the event, a la the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, and, of course, the NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship. I'm also addicted to any kind of best all-around player point series, player of the year races, and so on. If I could design the ultimate fantasy tournament that would really get my juices flowing, I imagine that it would look a little something like this:

First of all, the buy-in has to be really big. That ensures that you'll get the best of the best to show up. The other thing that would excite me would be a mixed-game format, but not in the traditional sense. Instead of playing in just one tournament with a rotation of games, an entire event would be dedicated to one particular form of poker. In all, you would play in eight separate tournaments in the following games: limit hold'em, Omaha eight-or-better, razz, stud, stud eight-or-better, deuce-to-seven triple draw, pot-limit Omaha, and no-limit hold'em.

Now, your $100,000 buy-in gets you into all of these events. You would pay the $100,000 one time and it would be good for all of the events. Ideally, I think a 100-player field would be great, and I would make every game sixhanded. The entire event would take a total of 24 days (it's a serious commitment).

On day one, everyone would play limit hold'em and the tournament would be scheduled for three days, with the final table taking place on day three. On day four, all entrants would play Omaha eight-or-better, and so on, until the finale, no-limit hold'em. If a player has prior commitments and misses an event, that's totally OK, as he'd be blinded off and would be able to return for the next event.

A total of 50 percent of the prize pool would be awarded in each of the legs, while the other 50 percent of the prize pool would be awarded to the top-six players overall. A point system would determine which players did the best over the entire series of events, and could look something like this:

The top-six point-getters would split the money as follows:

First - 45 percent
Second - 20 percent
Third - 15 percent
Fourth - 10 percent
Fifth - 7 percent
Sixth - 3 percent

If we got 100 entrants at $100,000 a pop, that would mean that first-place prize money would be $2,250,000, plus whatever money the winner won along the way. This brings me to the next order of business:

Each separate event would have its own prize pool, comprised of the other 50 percent of the buy-in money. So, using the 100-player model, $5 million would be split evenly amongst the eight events ($625,000 per event). That would be chopped up as follows:

First - 28 percent
Second - 14 percent
Third - 10.5 percent
Fourth - 8.5 percent
Fifth - 7 percent
Sixth - 6 percent
Seventh - 4.5 percent
Eighth - 3.5 percent
Ninth - 3 percent
10th - 2.5 percent
11th - 2 percent
12th - 1.5 percent
13th-18th - 1 percent
19th-24th - 0.5 percent

Each of the events would pose as the championship event of that form of poker, and also would hold significant prestige. The overall champion, the best of the best, would be a very deserving one, as it would be close to impossible to fluke your way into that title.

The last thing to consider would be the betting structure. Understanding that this will be a grueling 24-day stretch for some, the structures need to have a good amount of play, but at the same time, things need to move along, something like this:

$100,000 in starting chips, 60-minute levels

Day One:
1. $1,000-$2,000
2. $1,200-$2,400
3. $1,500-$3,000
4. $2,000-$4,000
5. $2,500-$5,000
6. $3,000-$6,000
7. $4,000-$8,000
8. $5,000-$10,000

Day Two:
9. $6,000-$12,000
10. $8,000-$16,000
11. $10,000-$20,000
12. $12,000-$24,000
13. $15,000-$30,000
14. $20,000-$40,000
15. $25,000-$50,000
16. $30,000-$60,000

Day Three:
17. $40,000-$80,000
18. $50,000-$100,000
19. $60,000-$120,000
20. $80,000-$160,000
21. $100,000-$200,000
22. $120,000-$240,000
23. $150,000-$300,000
24. $200,000-$400,000

While 24 days may seem too long and too grueling, it's important to note that players will likely have days off in between events - that is, unless they are doing awesomely and are continually making final tables! Also, while playing in each of the events would give a player the best chance to win the final award, if, say, he thinks he is terrible at Omaha eight-or-better and has little chance to win, he could skip the event entirely if he needed to go home for a break in between events.

My fantasy tournament crowns one ultimate winner, the most consistent performer in all of the events. That player would be king, but with this format, the glory would be shared by all eight of the winners of each discipline.

Now, I'm not holding my breath expecting an event like this to happen, but with the popularity of the H.O.R.S.E. event increasing and more and more people realizing that poker is more than just Texas hold'em, I think players would really get a kick out of this format. I know that I'd love to play in something like it.

Most of this is off the top of my head in regard to payout structures, point system, betting structures, and so on, but I'm an absolute tournament junkie, so while I'm sure that we'd probably have to tweak something here and there, I think the model is pretty good as it is. Maybe the buy-in could be lowered to $80,000, or even $40,000-$50,000 depending on demand.

Maybe my idea isn't the best one out there, but I personally love the concept and am getting a little bored and frustrated with the lack of creativity and ingenuity being put forth in tournament poker these days. I mean, if you've seen one $1,500 no-limit hold'em World Series of Poker champ, you've seen 'em all. I've grown tired of those types of events, as they lack that something special, that pizzazz that makes everyone in the poker world stand up and notice. Tell me this, would you watch the following events? Ted Forrest and Phil Ivey battling it out for the stud title; Mike Matusow and Howard Lederer fighting for the Omaha eight-or-better bracelet; Patrik Antonius and Sammy Farha neck and neck for the pot-limit Omaha title. Wow, as a poker fan, I wouldn't miss them for the world.