Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Heads Up for the WSOP (Courtesy the L.A. Poker Classic)

A double elimination bracketBeen following the live reports and various news items emanating from the L.A. Poker Classic currently going on over at the Commerce. It’s a helluva series, lasting for six weeks and including 35 different events. As this year’s Tournament Director Matt Savage noted over on PokerRoad Radio over the weekend (the 2/21/09 episode), the LAPC is starting to rival the World Series of Poker in terms of its variety of offerings.

The series schedule included a number of non-standard events. There were eight non-hold’em events, including that $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event won by Scotty Nguyen. The Main Event (also a $10,000 buy-in) attracted 696 entrants. They have now completed three days of play in that one, with three more days to go.

There was one other $10,000 event in the series, Event No. 32, the Heads Up Championship, won by Vivek Rajkumar. That one was originally capped at 64, with the original plan being to allow any additional entrants to play $5,000 play-in matches so as to participate. I’m not quite sure how that would have worked, but they eventually attracted a total of 111 players, and thus ended up eliminating the $5K prelim rounds.

The event was planned all along to be a double-elimination tournament, and they kept that format, somehow figuring out how to make it work for 111 players. There was a draw on Day 1 (last Wednesday) to determine the first-round matches as well as which players -- 17 in all -- would be receiving first-round byes. Once the first-round matches were complete, the winners and those who received byes then moved to the “winners’ bracket” (a total of 64 players) while the 47 losers all met up over in the “losers’ bracket.”

Since the losers’ bracket had that odd number, they had to draw again to determine who got byes. Seventeen got byes, while the other 30 played matches. The 15 losers of those matches, having lost twice, were done. That left 32 players, each with one loss apiece, over on the losers’ side. If I follow it correctly, the 32 losers from the winner’s bracket then came over to play these guys, and so on and so forth, until Chris Moore, the lone player remaining on the winners’ side, faced Rajkumar who emerged from the losers’ side. Rajkumar then had to beat Moore twice to take the title.

If you’re curious about the event and want to try to piece together the entire bracket, you can go over to the World Poker Tour page and read through B.J. Nemeth’s excellent live updates from the Heads Up event.

Have to say I very much like the use of a double-elimination format as a means to lessen the overall effect of drawing for byes. I’m remembering the fiasco at the 2007 World Series of Poker, the first time the WSOP tried a heads up tournament. 392 players signed up for that $5,000 buy-in event. If I remember correctly, officials had hoped to attract 512 and didn’t get there, and so they drew and 120 players got byes into the second round, meaning the unlucky 272 who didn’t had to play an extra match. Not too cool when you consider everyone had to pay the same entry fee for the sucker.

Doyle Brunson's blogLast year the WSOP tried it again and this time capped it at 256 (and made it a $10,000 event), thus avoiding the issue altogether. That worked out okay, if I remember correctly, although some players who wanted to play the event got closed out, including Doyle Brunson. “Unbelievable!” wrote Brunson on his blog. “To think they would limit the number of players in a WSOP tournament. I am aware of the structure but they should change it, make another bracket, have alternatives, or something!”

The Heads Up event is part of the 2009 WSOP as well, again as a $10,000 “Championship” event (Event No. 29, to start June 13th). Structures/formats have not been announced as yet for this summer’s WSOP, but I’d think the WSOP might consider taking a cue from the LAPC and try out a double elimination format this time around.

Of course, it simply might not be feasible for the WSOP to pull off a double-elimination tourney (which would require dealing about twice as many matches) during the three days they have allotted for the event. Still, I think it is definitely an idea worth considering, if it can be managed.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I look forward to next year's heads-up at Commerce, because I'll be better prepared to provide better coverage. It took me most of the first day just to wrap my mind around the brackets and figure out who was playing whom. (The random seat draw was 5 minutes before they started playing, and we couldn't even hear all the names.)

It's a great event though. Much better than a straight bracket, and not as tedious as the 2-out-of-3 format the whole way. The NBC Heads-Up structure is a donkament, and all the pros know it.

2/24/2009 2:39 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Glad to hear that, B.J. -- I got the sense you were diggin' it from the reports.

My little summary above isn't perfectly accurate/detailed of how the double-elims worked, I don't think, but the idea applies nonetheless -- I believe having the double-elimination format certainly lessens the overall effect of having byes (and in fact, I think, actually means fewer byes are necessary w/most combos).

I should also add I'd be surprised (pleasantly) to see the WSOP actually go for double-elims at the heads up event this summer.

2/24/2009 3:53 PM  

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