For those who aren’t aware, the tournament was run like a regular poker tournament, but all entrants were both playing for themselves and as part of three-player “teams.” The entry fee was $500+$50 per person (so $1,500+$150 per team). Sixty percent of the prize pool went to the top seven teams, while the other 40% was divided among the top 25 individual players. The team score was determined by taking the top two finishers’ placement in the tourney, turning that into a number (e.g., finishing 13th place = 13 pts.), and the team with the lowest score won.
The buzz surrounding the event was quite positive. Surprisingly so. There were a total of 444 players there (148 teams), with a lot of “name” pros, celebrities, and familiar faces among the field. And just about everyone seems to have loved it, at least as far the commentaries on forums, blogs, and the podcasts go.
F-Train was scratching his head earlier in the week trying to figure out why exactly the event was such a hit. It sounds like both from his post and the comments that the event’s organizers helped their cause a bit by inviting a number of folks (some pros, some media) to play, and perhaps even providing some exemptions, too. Which is fine, though one wonders how popular the event would have been otherwise.
While I suppose I’m mostly ambivalent about the concept of team poker (sure, why not?), I did have a few more concrete responses to the event.
For one, I enjoyed hearing the participants and others getting excited about the tournament. Sounded like a hell of a good time, for most of ’em, anyway. As a fan of poker, I liked hearing people expressing such enthusiasm about the game. Poker can be a lot of fun, and it seems like the Dream Team idea -- perhaps in the way it sort of combined regular tourney poker and the “home game” -- did well to remind everybody of that fact.
Secondly, I’ve also liked how the tournament has inspired all sorts of thoughtful reflections about poker and its significance. If you’ve been listening to the podcasts this week or reading a few of the players’ blogs, you’ve heard various opinions about how poker can be an isolated activity, and how the tournament’s team concept made things different for a weekend. There have been other, interesting points made that were inspired by Dream Team Poker, too.
Finally, I have to throw out a comment about the scoring used in the event. F-Train called it “gimmicky,” which it was. It was also completely absurd, if you think about it at all.
Throwing out the lowest finishing team member’s score seems kind of arbitrary, but that isn’t the biggest problem with the scoring. The way it was done, the player finishing first received one point, second place got two points, and so forth all of the way down. Such a system therefore dictates that the difference between finishing first and second is equivalent to the difference between finishing 23rd and 24th, or 187th and 188th, etc.
Ridiculous. Has there ever been a tournament whose payout schedule followed a similar format? No. Why? Because to do so would be silly. Most tournaments’ payouts are determined so as to emphasize the importance of going deep and winning, awarding most of the prize money to those lasting the longest.
A better point system would also follow such a model. I would suggest deciding on a number of points for the tournament -- say, in this case, with 444 players, something like 4,440 points -- then create a “payout” structure for points that resembled a cash payout structure, only in this case have everyone “cash” for at least a point. You could give those finishing in the bottom half (223rd through 444th) one point each, the next 25% two points each, and so on. Then at the top give the first place finisher 10% of the points, second place 5%, and so on so as to make it more meaningful to go deep.
However it’s done, you have to set it up so that the difference between finishing 89th and 90th is relatively meaningless, while the difference between finishing first or second is the most meaningful jump in the tournament. That way you don’t muck with how the tournament is normally played, especially since the majority of the prize money was reserved for the teams.
Certainly sounds like they’ll try something like this again, probably fairly soon. Hopefully they’ll fix that point system moving forward.
(EDIT [added 4/2/09]: Check out the comments for a couple of smart refutations of this here idea, including a report on other aspects of the event from WPT tourney reporter B.J. Nemeth.)