Jamie Burland looks at the unique tournaments cropping up in poker

Greetings to those who love the game! Aside from poker, other things I love include the Texas BBQ Pizza from Dominos. I try not to eat too much fast food but if I’m backed into a culinary corner and dialling in is my only option, then a high percentage of the time I’ll go for this delicious pizza pie. It might surprise you to learn that the Texas BBQ Pizza actually began its life as a mere guest pizza back in 2001 and through sheer popularity and demand forced its way onto the regular menu.

Poker sites and casinos do the same thing. They’re constantly trying to come up with new ideas to spice up the game that we love. We should be grateful for innovators like Crandell Addington who in 1960 once famously stood up from his chair shouting ‘F**k pot-limit, I’m all-in!’. It was the birth of no-limit hold’em as we know it.

The WPT raised a few eyebrows recently with their new Accumulator structure. The buy-in was £200+£20 and there were three Day 1s, but the kicker was that a player could choose to play one, two or all three starting days with any surviving stacks being merged together for use in Day 2. It was an interesting idea that caught my attention. the only downside I can see is that it’s probably not amazing for your hourly rate to play three Day 1s but for the professional it sounds like a variance reducing dream where you’re effectively playing a £600+60 tournament. So why is there often so much negativity surrounding developments like these?

Keep it fair

What’s great for the professional is often the opposite for the recreational player. I think this new format could be another type of tournament where the pro’s edge is increased even before the cards are in the air. This to me sounds a bit like the decision the GUKPT took to allow a re-entry into their main events and the ability to buy-in to both Day 1s. In other words, if you have the means, you can fire four times.

I don’t care who you are, if you are only able to fire once and Sam Grafton is there with four bullets he’s going to go deeper than you more often. Sam’s happy to invest four buy-ins because as well as a ferocious and burning love of the game, he knows he can convert a deep run into a top three finish often enough to produce a good ROI. While I believe that innovation is important in poker, there should always be an underlying focus on keeping the playing field level. 

Caffeine overload

Winamax is a site that is getting a reputation for great value and software, but they also do some interesting work on the innovation side of things. They recently added a fun new sit-and-go format called Expresso! These are three-handed hyper-turbo sit-and-gos with buy-ins ranging from €1-€10. When you register you get seated with two random players who have also just registered and you get randomly allocated a prize pool ranging from two to one thousand times your buy-in! A thousand! That’s ridiculous.

I’ve looked up the chances of hitting a jackpot table and it’s 20,000/1 that you will enter for €10 and then have to hold your nerve and beat two players to pocket ten grand. The reason I like this new format is that a pro’s edge isn’t magnified by having more money or time than the recreational player. Any edge comes purely from studying sit-and-go strategy, experience and grinding out some volume. It’s fun too and people are flocking to it. 

If you’re currently grinding low stakes hyper-turbo heads-up games you might want to consider adding Expresso! games to your screen. The games fill up in seconds so you can play mad volume and then one out of every 675 games you’ll be playing for a huge prize. I managed to hit a jackpot sit-and-go at the €1 level in my first 50 games and took it down, which has skewed my figures massively, but I’d be keen to hear from any grinders who are having a crack at them to see what sort of ROI’s can be expected from 40,000+ games.

Vive la France, keep up the good work Winamax

Jamie Burland writes every month for PokerPlayer magazine, available on iTunes here.

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