Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fantasyland at the WSOP

As everyone reading this blog probably knows, the 2013 World Series of Poker begins tomorrow. Lots of buzz building in anticipation, both for the bracelet events and for the numerous fantasy leagues folks have created as way to make the tourneys that much more interesting to follow.

Daniel Negreanu is again running a $25,000 buy-in WSOP fantasy league, I believe for the third consecutive year. The drafting of players happens tonight, warranting enough interest both in who’ll be participating in the league as well as which players will be drafted for Quadjacks to run a live stream of the event starting at 7:00 p.m. PDT.

Noting all of the interest in Negreanu’s $25K WSOP Fantasy league, I tweeted yesterday that I would be running a Fantasy Fantasy league in which participants would draft participants in Negreanu’s draft. We can assign a point system based on how well the fantasy league players in Negreanu’s league perform according to their point system. I’m hoping if my Fantasy Fantasy league catches on, people will start creating fantasy leagues in which they pick players in my league, and so on and so on.

This is an idea with a lot of potential.

Two years ago I wrote a post about the $25K WSOP Fantasy league in which I noted that first prizes awarded in some bracelet events will in fact be less than the first prize in Negreanu’s league. Thus it could happen -- although one needs to twist oneself in a fairly complicated hypothetical pretzel to imagine it -- that a player could have financial incentive not to win a tournament if doing so meant preventing a player he’d drafted for his fantasy team from winning.

But such a scenario is obviously unlikely, and in the end I don’t believe a fantasy league -- even a high-stakes one -- can affect the integrity of a tournament all that much. In other words, the existence of fantasy leagues hardly affects game play, say, the way the “fantasyland” option in open-face Chinese poker can affect strategy in that game. If you think about it, the myriad backing arrangements and other forms of staking that are such a common part of the tourney poker scene have a lot more potential to matter than the existence of fantasy leagues, I’d think.

One interesting side effect of something like Negreanu’s draft tonight is the way it functions as a kind of ersatz “all star” vote of poker players by their peers -- that is to say, a way for a certain high-rolling subset of poker players to voice their opinions via their drafts who they think to be the best players around at the moment, or at least the best tournament players who they expect to put in a lot of volume at this summer’s WSOP.

I imagine those of us who follow tournament poker relatively closely we’ll recognize the majority of the names of those selected tonight, although there will probably be some with whom we’re less familiar. All chosen will get some attention, though, and perhaps will be followed a little more closely than they would otherwise have been.

I’ll probably have to tune in later to see which players turn out to be the most coveted by the Fantasy league players as well as what dark horses emerge as “ones to watch.”

For those of you participating in WSOP fantasy leagues... who are you drafting?

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Blogger Yakshi said...

I think it would be sufficiently postmodern if Matt Kemp struck out four at bats in a row on purpose Saturday night in order to win his fantasy league that week, thereby defeating his fantasy opponent (Don Mattingly) and getting him fired simultaneously. Maybe that explains Kemp's year so far.

5/29/2013 10:54 AM  

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