Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Action Seekers: The WSOP $25K Fantasy Draft

Was following that $25K Fantasy Draft last night, the one organized by Daniel Negreanu. This is the fourth year running for the WSOP fantasy league, meaning it has developed a tradition of sorts as a kind of “preseason”-type bit of hype-building to occupy poker fans eager for the World Series of Poker to get started.

Had a little bit of an extra interest in the proceedings this time around thanks to the “Team Media” entry among the 12 teams, one managed by my friends and colleagues Donnie Peters and Rich Ryan who drafted players for a team backed by some poker pros with deeper pockets than theirs.

Was a little surprised Donnie and Rich were willing to spend more than half of their allotted $200 salary for Phil Ivey, ultimately bidding $101 to obtain him. They then spent another $66 on Stephen Chidwick, leaving themselves just $33 with which to fill their last six spots. In the end they wouldn’t even use all of their salary, picking up several players for the minimum $1 to round out the team.

Rich wrote in detail today in his “Five Thoughts” column about the pair’s thought process for bidding on selecting players, including reporting which eight players they ultimately picked. Here’s a link to a Google doc with all 12 teams’ rosters and showing how much was paid for each drafted player, and here is the website where the scoring will be tracked once everything gets uploaded and cranked up.

Going “all in” (so to speak) on Ivey hinged somewhat on his big bracelet bets, I believe, including a much-rumored multi-year one that ends in 2014.

Last year Ivey was the most expensive player selected in the $25K Fantasy Draft (with Daniel Alaei’s team spending $110 for him), and he ended up only finishing 63rd of the 112 players taken in points earned. But in 2012 Ivey was also the most expensive pick (going for $99), and ended up earning the most points of anyone for Brian Hastings’s team.

At first glance it feels like an especially high variance strategy to have bet so much on just a couple of players, but in the end having just about any eight players all whom will be playing many events and who all can be expected to do well -- which “Team Media” has, I think -- gives a team a shot.

The 96 players taken by the 12 teams this year will all earn a little extra attention as the WSOP progresses. Might be interesting also just to see how many undrafted players finish ahead of these 96 in the overall POY race.

I was joking with Rich how the whole idea of selling action for a fantasy team that will be made up of players themselves selling action -- not to mention in a lot of cases selecting each other for their own fantasy teams -- gives me a little knot between my eyes.

Kind of what poker is, though, a game existing at the center of a complex knot of negotiations mostly confined to the table but capable of extending well beyond it, depending on how the players play it.

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