20 November 2008


The Sports and Social Club at the Sanger hosted a not-for-money poker tournament last night. At first glance it was an interesting event: thirty entrants started out at five six-seat tables (just due to the size of the furniture, not because of any stylistic choice). In the interest of time, however, the structure is quite odd:

  1. A 45 minute round with $1500 and fixed blinds of $25-$50. At the end of the round, each player receives a score equal to his remaining stack.

  2. Another identical round, with all players starting over from $1500. At the end of this round each player again receives a score equal to his remaining stack.

  3. The six players with the highest cumulative score from the first rounds play a final table (again starting from equal stacks) in the standard way.

Now, there's all kinds of things wrong with this style, including the fact that it hugely emphasises luck, because it keeps resetting the chip count even after players might have built up a large lead. It also leads to some quite interesting strategic choices, because you have to play very aggressively in order to build up a score to put you into the top six.

This was complicated by the fact that roughly half the players had literally never played before, so you have to try to aim your play at one particular kind of frustrating (albeit predictable) opponent. I finished with zero from the first round after getting hammered on a draw-out, and I found that the top six at that point were all above $3000. So my goal was the very difficult task of building up to about $4500 in one round (since the winners between rounds were not highly correlated). I made it to about $3400 with 10 mins left to play, but was essentially forced to repeatedly go all in as time was expiring, since that was the only way I could hope to make it to the final table. Amusingly, I finished with zero overall score despite now insisting that I was by far the best strategic player in the field. :)

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