Come and get me

I’ve always wanted to have a say in how a big poker tournament is structured. I got my chance when the new professional poker league, Epic Poker, asked me to get involved in a tournament it’s running this weekend at the Palms. It’s a satellite to win a seat in a nationally televised $1,500 buy-in Pro/Am event in August that could lead to a $20,000 seat in a main event that will also air nationally. Making that final TV tourney is a long shot, so what’s important now is getting a fair return on the money you pay to enter the satellite, and that’s where “the deal” comes in.

The buy-in this Saturday is $340, with $40 retained by the casino. That means that almost 12 percent is being taken out of the prize pool, which isn’t a good thing. But unlike a typical tournament, this one has some valuable givebacks that have to be considered. Everyone who enters gets $25 in slot free-play, a copy of Decide to Play Great Poker by Annie Duke (Huntington Press, 2011) and a free buffet at the Palms.

Let’s add it up. The $25 in slot play has a mathematical value close to face, so let’s call it $25. The book retails for $35, but you can get it from various outlets for about $25. And the buffet is worth another $20. All together that’s $70 in added value, which makes the return in this tournament greater than 100 percent. Additionally, Epic is adding $500 to the prize pool. The way to put a value on that is to divide it by the number of players—so if 50 show up, that’s another $10 added to your expected return. Assuming your skill level is equal to the average of the field, it’s like playing a game that returns 112 percent. You just don’t find that these days!

On Sunday, the buy-in is only $180. Since you get the same perks, it’s like playing a game with a return of 128 percent. Wow! But if you settle for Sunday it’s more difficult to win a seat (fewer are awarded because of the reduced buy-in), and you’ll miss the chance to collect a bounty on me.

You see, the reason Epic came to me is that my birthday is on Saturday, and there will be a “bounty” in place—knock me out of the tournament and get a free entry into Sunday’s event. That’s even more value added to Saturday’s play. Of course, that value won’t be realized unless someone really does knock me out. Play starts at 7 p.m. Bring it!

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