Tourney Anyone run a "large" heads up multiplayer tournament? (1 Viewer)

MrCatPants

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My crew just finished our tournament 'season' which gives me a little more freedom on some of my game scheduling, and accordingly next time I host a tourney I wanted to do a new event. Was looking for some feedback on the idea below (if this is uber dumb) or experience with running something similar. Thought behind it is most people really don't get to experience much tournament heads up play and so this would allow that in spades.

Concept: A heads up tournament similar to the world cup or college football. Depending on number of runners, divide players into equal numbers of divisions/groups/pools and have them each play heads up against each other round robin style in short (30-40 minute) heads up matches.

Keep track of "wins" on each switch, and at the end of the round Robin the top 4 players (or top 8 if it's very well attended) go to a playoff, allowing the rest of the group to start up a cash game.

Ways to keep it spicy: run a Calcutta or fantasy draft for the playoff, do a small portion of the prize pool payable to the division that produced the first place player to get people rooting for each other.

Thoughts on this? Could it work with some tweaks? Or would it suck/cause disaster that I'm not seeing?
 

Moxie Mike

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I've always wanted to but there's a few logistical issue I've yet to solve. Space is one - finding dealers is another. Another issue is what do people do when they're they're waiting on their next opponent?

I was going to do a bracket style tournament with a loser's bracket funneling an opponent to the the winner of the main bracket. I'm not sure how to structure it or what to do if I wind up with an odd # of people.

I also thought of an idea where all eliminated players are added to the loser's bracket from the first two rounds of the main bracket. So once the first round is completed (assuming 16 players), the 8 losing players comprise bracket 'B'. They will play down to 4, and then the 4 losers from round 2 of bracket 'A' will be added, creating a second round of 8 in the loser's bracket.

So limiting it to 16 players is probably key. But what happens if you have a no-show?

One idea I had was that as players finish their matches, they can then deal in the matches that have yet to be completed. This will give them something to do and speed the game along.

Pokerstars has an option for two-max games... an idea was floated to test it out and see how it worked but that never materialized. Can't really do any fun stuff with it though... just whatever the software allows for.
 

MrCatPants

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@Moxie Mike
I was thinking these would all be self dealt, and with a "pool" (e.g. 3 groups of 4 players each) rather than a bracket you wouldn't have to have a 2/4/8/16/32 type of player count - just an even number.

Think you have to have this self dealt and shuffled. No other way to do it.

On space I hear you. I have four tables in a pinch and think I would just have multiple matches on each table.

On timing...was thinking of maybe a hard stop at 30 minutes and if one player hasn't beat the other its a draw. Soccer format - 3 points for a win and 1 each for a draw. Not sure I like that idea or not though.
 
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Moxie Mike

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On timing...was thinking of maybe a hard stop at 30 minutes and if one player hasn't beat the other its a draw. Soccer format - 3 points for a win and 1 each for a draw. Not sure I like that idea or not though.
I think you solve the time issue with a fast structure. In a bracket format, you're not going to want to the first two rounds to go for a terribly long time. So a structure of 10k starting stacks and a structure that was at 500-1000 by the end of the first hour should produce a pretty quick match.

Round robin tournaments could work... I've never ran one and I think I'd have too many people to organize a game where everyone plays everyone. I'm not sure how popular the idea is though.
 

FestiveKnight

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The only comment I would have (as I have seen @BGinGA point out multiple times around here) is that heads-up feels a lot better and like a better test of skill in a BO3 format. Definitely would push against your 30min goal but that's what I'd much prefer to play in
 

Moxie Mike

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The only comment I would have (as I have seen @BGinGA point out multiple times around here) is that heads-up feels a lot better and like a better test of skill in a BO3 format. Definitely would push against your 30min goal but that's what I'd much prefer to play in
I would do best of 3 for the finals - or a situation where if the champion of bracket 'A' wins the first match he's the winner... whereas the player who advances through the loser's bracket must win 2 out of 3 to be declared the winner of the tournament.

I was thinking these would all be self dealt, and with a "pool" (e.g. 3 groups of 4 players each) rather than a bracket you wouldn't have to have a 2/4/8/16/32 type of player count - just an even number.
I thought of something else. If you had an unconventional number of entries, you could create a 'play-in' round like the NCAA tournament does. Since you're creating a dynamic where a player would have to play more games than others, it could be treated like a satellite with a reduced entry fee.
 

BGinGA

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As mentioned above, I strongly advise using a best-of-three format vs just a single heads-up match. It tends to mimize the luck factor, and provides more actual heads-up experience.

I have directed several different types of heads-up events, described below. All used a best-of-three format.

One was a straight ladder-style play-off, where the players were seeded (based on season results): #4 vs #3, with the winner playing #2, and that winner playing #1 for the title (four players, three rounds total). I also ran a similar but modified-ladder play-off for six players, with #6 vs #3 and #5 vs #4 simulaneously, with those two winners then playing each other, then advancing to play #2 and then #1 (six players, four rounds total). In either case, the #2 seed is guaranteed at least 3rd place, and the #1 seed is guaranteed at least 2nd place. This works well for a season-ending championship. Each round consists of up to three matches lasting no more than 25-30 minutes each, with a typical round finishing in well under an hour.

I have also run heads-up events using straight elimination, main with consolation, round-robin, modified round-robin, and modified swiss-movement formats (I was a tournament format guru in a former games life). A bit about each format follows below.

A true round-robin event is not practical with a larger number of players (more than six simply takes too long), but a modified RR format can be used to create a random draws for a maximum number of rounds (four or five, for example), and then ranking the players based on round win/loss record, with total match win/loss percentage as a tie-breaker, and having a play-off if still tied.

A modified-swiss movement is similar, except that opponents are randomly matched in each subsequent round against a player with a similar win/loss record. So a 1-0 player would play another 1-0 player in R2, while an 0-1 player would play another 0-1 player. Players are eliminated after two round losses. Eventually there is only one undefeated player, with one or two players with a single loss. Final rankings can be done using total match win %, or determined by previous heads-up outcome (if any) as a tie-breaker.

A straight elimination bracket takes four rounds for 16 players, or three rounds for eight players. Random byes can be assigned when field size is 9 to 15 players, or you can feed the extras as play-in spots into the 8-player bracket for half-price. I prefer play-ins with 9 or 10 players, and random byes with 11-15 players.

A main with progressively-fed consolation can work for a large field, allowing most players two losses before elimination. A 16-player field takes four rounds for the main, but takes two extra rounds to finish the consolation bracket.

@TLDR:
A simple 8- or 16-player single-elimination format is the quickest, and easiest to understand and direct. A modified-swiss movement yields better results and more play for the entrants, but is more difficult to manage. A round-robin works best with really small fields. All are best conducted using a best-of-three match format.
 
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BGinGA

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Also of note:
The ladder format events described above used dedicated dealers -- typically players who were waiting on the winner, or already eliminated. Round-robin, swiss-movement, and elimination-with-consolation formats will not have that luxury available until late in the event (if ever, pending).

In all non-ladder events, we had three heads-up battles going on each oval table (one at table center plus one on each table end). Three tables are needed for 16 players.
 

MrCatPants

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Thanks for everyone's thoughts so far. The modified RR format I was thinking on is, let's say there's 12 players.

4 players in Group A, 4 in Group B, 4 in Group C

I get each group at their own table. They all play each other, say, twice in rotation, so 6 total matches. 30 minute matches, either by design or by a hard stop (if so, we'd have 'draws') At the end of the 6 matches, we'd tally up points - winner from each of the three divisions would make the "playoff", plus a wildcard - next highest point total from any division.

My losers start a cash game, winners go to a bracket best of 3 playoff.

How bad does not having dedicated dealers with all these heads up games tend to get? Is that asking for disaster?
 

FestiveKnight

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As mentioned above, I strongly advise using a best-of-three format vs just a single heads-up match. It tends to mimize the luck factor, and provides more actual heads-up experience.

I have directed several different types of heads-up events, described below. All used a best-of-three format.

One was a straight ladder-style play-off, where the players were seeded (based on season results): #4 vs #3, with the winner playing #2, and that winner playing #1 for the title (four players, three rounds total). I also ran a similar but modified-ladder play-off for six players, with #6 vs #3 and #5 vs #4 simulaneously, with those two winners then playing each other, then advancing to play #2 and then #1 (six players, four rounds total). In either case, the #2 seed is guaranteed at least 3rd place, and the #1 seed is guaranteed at least 2nd place. This works well for a season-ending championship. Each round consists of up to three matches lasting no more than 25-30 minutes each, with a typical round finishing in well under an hour.

I have also run heads-up events using straight elimination, main with consolation, round-robin, modified round-robin, and modified swiss-movement formats (I was a tournament format guru in a former games life). A bit about each format follows below.

A true round-robin event is not practical with a larger number of players (more than six simply takes too long), but a modified RR format can be used to create a random draws for a maximum number of rounds (four or five, for example), and then ranking the players based on round win/loss record, with total match win/loss percentage as a tie-breaker, and having a play-off if still tied.

A modified-swiss movement is similar, except that opponents are randomly matched in each subsequent round against a player with a similar win/loss record. So a 1-0 player would play another 1-0 player in R2, while an 0-1 player would play another 0-1 player. Players are eliminated after two round losses. Eventually there is only one undefeated player, with one or two players with a single loss. Final rankings can be done using total match win %, or determined by previous heads-up outcome (if any) as a tie-breaker.

A straight elimination bracket takes four rounds for 16 players, or three rounds for eight players. Random byes can be assigned when field size is 9 to 15 players, or you can feed the extras as play-in spots into the 8-player bracket for half-price. I prefer play-ins with 9 or 10 players, and random byes with 11-15 players.

A main with progressively-fed consolation can work for a large field, allowing most players two losses before elimination. A 16-player field takes four rounds for the main, but takes two extra rounds to finish the consolation bracket.

@TLDR:
A simple 8- or 16-player single-elimination format is the quickest, and easiest to understand and direct. A modified-swiss movement yields better results and more play for the entrants, but is more difficult to manage. A round-robin works best with really small fields. All are best conducted using a best-of-three match format.
I’m relatively new to this forum and have seen your endless posts around here @BGinGA, a great contribution as always.

@MrCatPants if I were entering a heads-up I would love the opportunity of BO3 with Swiss-movement. I have competed in other games with Swiss style and it makes for games that feel a lot more balanced. And best ofs are better in everything imo
 

BGinGA

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Thanks for everyone's thoughts so far. The modified RR format I was thinking on is, let's say there's 12 players.

4 players in Group A, 4 in Group B, 4 in Group C

I get each group at their own table. They all play each other, say, twice in rotation, so 6 total matches. 30 minute matches, either by design or by a hard stop (if so, we'd have 'draws') At the end of the 6 matches, we'd tally up points - winner from each of the three divisions would make the "playoff", plus a wildcard - next highest point total from any division.

My losers start a cash game, winners go to a bracket best of 3 playoff.

How bad does not having dedicated dealers with all these heads up games tend to get? Is that asking for disaster?
Fwiw, I think six timed 30-minute matches vs three opponents (3 hours maximum, with some matches potentially left unfinished) is a huge step down in desirability from a single best-of-three format against each of those same three guys... especially since both ways will take roughly the same amount of time. Using timed matches will also affect strategy, especially if unfinished "ties" are worth 1/3 of the points vs winning -- and it's also totally alien to actual tournament heads-up play.

What is your plan for a number of players other than 12? Breaking the field into groups creates logistical problems when a) the groups are not equal size, or b) the group size is not an even number.

Regarding self-dealing, just make sure each player has his own deck, preferably a clearly different brand, color, and style (to minimize the possibility of confusion). One player can collect and shuffle cards from his past deal while the other deals the new hand from his own deck.
 

T_Chan

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I've run a heads up tournament once a year for the last several years with a couple of different formats. Double elimination and Round Robin.

For double elim, there's a winners bracket and losers bracket so everyone gets to play at least 2 games. The winner of the losers bracket plays the winner of the winners bracket and has to win 2/3 matches to win the whole thing. If there's not an even number of players to fill out a perfect bracket, then some players get byes to move to the next round which is picked randomly.

This format has worked out well. We did this for the first few years, then switched to round robin but ultimately switched back.

For the round robin, we did 4 groups of 4, each player playing each other for seeding into the final round. This way each player plays at least 5 games. This was fun, however it took waaaay too long. This is the only reason we switched back.

We all did self dealing. Each table would have 3 matches going on at the same time. Everyone would face each other along the long ends of the tables. Each pair got a different set of chips, and a timer. T3k, blinds would be 8 minutes long starting at 25/50 and doubling every round. After 5 rounds, whoever had most chips would be the winner. Not ideal, but we have a schedule to maintain.

The final match would get a dedicated dealer, and dedicated shuffler since dealing heads up is a lot of work.

We would have an ongoing cash game on the side, since there would be times where someone is waiting for their opponent for over an hour due to "byes" or some games just going really quickly. Players would come and go as their matches would start.

The heads up games have always been popular, they're a lot of fun and it's nice to mix up the format without changing away from NLHE.

An example of our bracket from a few years back.

2019-06-12 02.58.35.jpg
 

MrCatPants

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What is your plan for a number of players other than 12? Breaking the field into groups creates logistical problems when a) the groups are not equal size, or b) the group size is not an even number.
It was just to adapt format - eg 14 becomes 2 seven person divisions where everyone plays each other once. 16 can become 4 four person groups, 9 would be 3 three person groups with more matches, etc.. I was thinking if it ended up odd I would just provide event support and sit out the game, or do a rotating "bye" for the odd group.
 

TX_Golf_N_Poker

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It was just to adapt format - eg 14 becomes 2 seven person divisions where everyone plays each other once. 16 can become 4 four person groups, 9 would be 3 three person groups with more matches, etc.. I was thinking if it ended up odd I would just provide event support and sit out the game, or do a rotating "bye" for the odd group.
Is this going to just be for your regulars, or will you open it up to any others?
 
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