Tourney Seeking ideas for an annual structure

Whiteside

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I have a pool of 14 players and we meet every 6 weeks or so for a tournament. Typically it's very low value - £10 buy-in, no rebuys - and I have between 6-9 players on average.

Moving into the new year I'm looking for something that may spice up the format. This year we had 8 tournaments and next year I expect it will also be 7 or 8. Some players play most tournaments, some play very few. Most play 4 or 5. I usually keep an 'all-time leaderboard' and a 'your last last 8 tournaments' table just to create a bit more rivalry.

But for next year, is there any way to have a 'player of the year' with so few tournaments? Or build up to an end of year tournament? Or is it really just too small-scale?

I would be grateful for any ideas.
 

DarPodo

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If you run 8 tournaments I would suggest only counting 5 towards the points. Let everyone take their best 5 performances. It allows those who can't make all 8 a chance to win, while giving those who do have good attendance an advantage with more attempts.
 

Toonexile

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Allocate points for placing / turning up / bounties and then have a leader board with the points from a player's best 5 tournaments counting. By giving points for turning up and bounties, it means that there won't be players stuck on zero points at the bottom of the board (which could be demotivating and mean that they won't turn up to the tournaments later in the year).
 

Poker Zombie

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I also run 7-8 events a year, with about 18-20 players on average.

We use a point system to determine the player of the year. The points are close together so it becomes a little more difficult to "run away" with 2 or 3 good finishes when there are so few events. Every player gains 1 point for attendance, and players finishing in the money gain extra points. Again, this is so 1 or 2 bad finishes don't crush a player. Everyone has a couple of run-bad sessions, but with 8 events 2 run-bads = 25% of everything. By getting the same number of points as the guy that bubbled, and the points being relatively low, even after 2 bad nights, you still have a fighting chance.

I "rake" 5% of each night's prize pool (rounded to the nearest $10) and add that to an end of year bonus. The bonus goes to the highest finishing eligible player. To be eligible, you must attend 50% or more of the events. This helps to bring the 6-9 players on average up closer to 8-10 players, and the points race is then seen more frequently by more players. This also generates interest in the points race.

Our player of the year gets a custom embroidered shirt. They have to supply the shirt, but Mrs Poker Zombie does the embroidery. This gives a prize that costs us very little, but is still something to compete for. Nothing says "bragging rights" like a shirt that says "I bought this shirt - with your money".
 

Whiteside

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What I do at the moment is award a score based on a formula I'd seen elsewhere (possibly CT) which was 10 x the square root of (number of players/finishing position) - 5. I then use the average of those scores. However sometimes this means people move up the table by not playing. So maybe this year I could do the average of the best 4 results and award a player of the year trophy.

Any other methods people use for points?

- - - - - - - - - Updated - - - - - - - - -

Your events sound quite similar. I'd be interested to hear how your points system works.

I also run 7-8 events a year, with about 18-20 players on average.

We use a point system to determine the player of the year. The points are close together so it becomes a little more difficult to "run away" with 2 or 3 good finishes when there are so few events. Every player gains 1 point for attendance, and players finishing in the money gain extra points. Again, this is so 1 or 2 bad finishes don't crush a player. Everyone has a couple of run-bad sessions, but with 8 events 2 run-bads = 25% of everything. By getting the same number of points as the guy that bubbled, and the points being relatively low, even after 2 bad nights, you still have a fighting chance.

I "rake" 5% of each night's prize pool (rounded to the nearest $10) and add that to an end of year bonus. The bonus goes to the highest finishing eligible player. To be eligible, you must attend 50% or more of the events. This helps to bring the 6-9 players on average up closer to 8-10 players, and the points race is then seen more frequently by more players. This also generates interest in the points race.

Our player of the year gets a custom embroidered shirt. They have to supply the shirt, but Mrs Poker Zombie does the embroidery. This gives a prize that costs us very little, but is still something to compete for. Nothing says "bragging rights" like a shirt that says "I bought this shirt - with your money".
 

TexRex

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Whiteside, we have annual awards, and for a small group like yours, I'd do something like POY (only 1 award). We've had between 17 and 27 this year. Here's how we do it:

We play 12 (monthly) tournaments. We evaluate players on 5 criteria -- # of knock outs, final table appearances, in the money appearances, points, and tournament wins on an annual basis. We don't throw any of them out. The more they show up, the better they can do. That makes up half the evaluation. The other half is those same criteria, but on a per game basis. Each score is then "normed" and converted into a percentage of all scores in that category and the player receives a score like a baseball batting average (.273 for example). Though criterion each counts 10%, as you move left to right, they are harder to accomplish. We've had about 250 KO's this year, but so far only 11 tournament wins. Someone with a tournament win gets a score of about .091 for each tournament win, but each KO counts only about .004. The 10 scores are added together.

To qualify for an award, they must attend 7. In January, we start our new season and have our Main Event (ME) -- all members from the year before are eligible for the ME. We were trying to measure the best overall performer among all the criteria. It's worked for us, though I just realized our points system, which is going to change for next year, has what I think of as a serious flaw. Thanks to Zombie for pointing it out -- his feedback on that will make our system better. I can share how we did any specific thing if you like some or all of this.
 

Poker Zombie

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Your events sound quite similar. I'd be interested to hear how your points system works.

I use the Player of the Year system used by Bluff Magazine. Since their system is for thousands of players, and mine is for dozens, I knock off some zeros from play fields and buy-in amounts.

The only reason I don't like the Dr Neau system (10 x the square root of (number of players/finishing position) - 5) is because I don't like running the points all the way down to the 1st KO when there are 2 or 3 tables. Mediocre players start to get penalized when they start at a table with a couple of great players that way, but that is just my preference.
 

TexRex

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I second Zombie's view about formulas. Once you get past one table, it hard to award points based on when a person got KO'd. Suppose T1 (table 1) and T2 have an unequal number of players (9 & 8). Suppose for whatever reason, T1 is taking 2:15 a hand and T2 is taking 1:45 a hand. A player at T2 gets KO'd at the end of a hand at his table, and that same hand on T1 also sees a KO, but that hand takes longer. Is the guy who lasted slightly longer really slightly better? No, you can't say that with any certainty at all. It gets more complicated if you realize that the player at T2 played several more hands, but because a player at T1 in that hand thought long and hard during that hand (or another), the T2 player is worse.

Another issue is what happens when a player comes late (LP) -- say after a player has been KO'd. What if LP gets KO'd the first hand? Is he really better because he showed up late? I don't think so, and such a system would encourage players to show up late. In a perfect world, everyone who is going to play would be there at the very beginning, but that's not reality at all.

We allow late players until our break or the breakdown to the final table for a simple reason -- I want their money in the game. If you start awarding points based on when someone is KO'd, you either will have an unfair system when you have an LP, or you will not get their money in the game.

If you award participation points according to # of players, there is an incentive to get late players to play in addition to the profit motive. More players = more points for every player.

Now, at one table, I think you could use order of finish and claim it's a generally reliable result and would be over time, but not when you have more than one table. I think that is why Bluff only uses participation points and finish points. That's how we do our points.
 

BGinGA

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Those are all inherent problems with awarding points to the entire field (which by most designs typically rewards attendance vs performance).

Our points structure has morphed over time to award 'meaningful' points to the top 1/3 of the field. Players who finish lower still get 'token' points, but in the long run, those rarely affect the overall point standings. There is very little difference (if any) between finishing 11th or 12th in a 16-player field, and our structure essentially treats both the same.
 

Poker Zombie

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BG makes the most important point of all:

Our points structure has morphed over time

Your players are the most important part of your game. While we can give pros and cons to every system, you have to decide which pros and which cons work best for you. Maybe you're not ready/capable to handle a second table yet. Maybe you don't allow late buy-ins.

What you use this year may not be good next year, and what what works for one group may not work as well for the another group. Just don't change the scoring mid-season, and be fully aware of what behaviour you are encouraging by rewarding with your point system (and the prize, if any for winning).
 

CO0LHand

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Those are all inherent problems with awarding points to the entire field (which by most designs typically rewards attendance vs performance).

Our points structure has morphed over time to award 'meaningful' points to the top 1/3 of the field. Players who finish lower still get 'token' points, but in the long run, those rarely affect the overall point standings. There is very little difference (if any) between finishing 11th or 12th in a 16-player field, and our structure essentially treats both the same.


Is there any way to get a detailed way that you score your 'season?' I am looking to start one myself with what looks to be 14-20 regular players and I need something that will allow me to track 'leaders' for a 12 game season throughout the year.

Thanks!
 

TexRex

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I agree with BG and Zombie that changes over time are likely to occur. We count all 12 games; none get thrown out. When you throw out someone's worst game(s), you are really altering the measurement of the best players. I think of it a little like college football. I already think it's a mess trying to pick the best teams, but imagine throwing at just the worst game for a team, much less several of the worst games. We try to measure overall performance in the games they attend, and they all count the same.

We use a spreadsheet, and I'm happy to share one of the ones we've used, but our are customized to what we measure and probably not helpful unless you are really good at modifying an Excel spreadsheet. But it helps to know what you want to measure. What to you is a leader?
 

ChaosRock

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I agree completely with your assessment of dropping scores is altering the measurement of the best players. It makes total sense. However, this feature is not there to improve fairness in my opinion. It is used to keep players that eventually miss games interested in the league. I run a 20 + 1 league, with games every two weeks and some players invariably have other important commitments one night or two... We drop the two lowest scores... They feel better about not being too much penalized for it... Yes, it hurts a bit the best players and those that do not miss any games but it keeps other players coming... At least that's been my experience with the players in my league...

We count all 12 games; none get thrown out. When you throw out someone's worst game(s), you are really altering the measurement of the best players. We try to measure overall performance in the games they attend, and they all count the same.
 

TexRex

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Chaos, are you trying to keep them interested so they don't drop out?

We count all 12 because all of our awards are based on their 12 game performance. We also measure them on every criteria based on per game performance. If they attend 10 games, they are measured on how they performed against others for the entire year, but their per game performance is based on only 10 games.

We don't have a championship game per se. We have a "Main Event" that is the 13th game of the season -- bigger buy-in and payouts -- but ALL players are eligible for it. Therefore, players don't lose interest since they only have to attend one to play in it. It is a take off of sorts on the WSOP Main Event (except players must have entered one prior event). Everyone starts even; it's just a bigger tournament. We don't have players losing interest because they have no chance to compete.
 
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ChaosRock

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That's exactly right TR... Now with more detail about your league your comment makes even more sense... I run a league that is quite different... We have 20 regular season games and 1 ToC... The league fees paid by the players every game is split in two: 50% paid to the top 4 in points after the 20 tourneys and 50% to the ToC top 4... In order to qualify for the ToC the player must be top 10 in points and they start even stacked at this free-roll tourney... Reason for it is that I wanted to keep consistency rewarding regular season points and also always have the carrot of the ToC... Minimum attendance is 10 tourneys though and there is no fee waiving for ad hoc players... It's been working quite well but I'm always looking for improvements...

Funny thing is that I am not a tourney player... For me, cash >>>>>>> tourney, but it's hard to get consistent attendance since there's no commitment... We play cash at my place only once a month and after the tourneys...


Chaos, are you trying to keep them interested so they don't drop out?

We count all 12 because all of our awards are based on their 12 game performance. We also measure them on every criteria based on per game performance. If they attend 10 games, they are measured on how they performed against others for the entire year, but their per game performance is based on only 10 games.

We don't have a championship game per se. We have a "Main Event" that is the 13th game of the season -- bigger buy-in and payouts -- but ALL players are eligible for it. Therefore, players don't lose interest since they only have to attend one to play in it. It is a take off of sorts on the WSOP Main Event (except players must have entered one prior event). Everyone starts even; it's just a bigger tournament. We don't have players losing interest because they have no chance to compete.
 

TexRex

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Choas, there are a lot of different ways to do things. I like hearing how others do it, and I've heard several times about steps groups take to keep players interested. I'm glad we don't have that issue. For ours, if a person had no interest in awards, or participating in the Main Event, they just want to play poker, they are welcome. They can come when they want to, and it's still a poker tournament. This year over 90% of the entry fee was paid out that night in prize money (with the rest rolled over to our Main Event), and in 2015, it will be 100%. Our Main Event is our biggest event of the year. Your TOC is probably the smallest in terms of the number of entrants. How much is your league fee?

We have a $10 per calendar year membership fee (it's a club). It pays for the cards and awards. For that fee, players get 2/3 more in chips every tournament, the right to vote, and an invitation to the Main Event. We also have a newsletter, but it actually goes to a few people who aren't members. Players really like our format, and I like that players don't lose interest in it because they no longer have a chance.

We had a cash game going several years ago. We finally decided we would try a tournament, and found it was a lot easier to get players to come for a tournament instead of a cash game. Eventually I've become almost exclusively a tournament player not by design, but because that's what we could get people for. I've come to like tournament better, so I'm not even trying to get into cash games. I know they are around, and I know I could get invites, but just not putting the effort in.
 

CO0LHand

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So I am looking into something similar here.

I want to do a 12 game 'season,' one per month. I want to figure out a formula to rank players which right now is the one mentioned earlier: 10 x the square root of (number of players/finishing position) - 5

Tournaments are maxed out at 20ish players right now and open to both league members and ppl who just want to play. There will be a one time fee to enter the league and you can enter at any time but you must attend a minimum of 6 games so new players are only able to join in first 6 months (in my line of work it's hard to get same people around all the time.) You must pay your league entrance before you win a spot in the final table.

Monthly winners in the league are automatically entered in the final table. If a player wins more than once that spot is then open to the highest ranked player who did not win a monthly game, same for months where a non-league player wins. I wanted to make a monthly winner automatically entered so that people who don't have a good 'average' still feel like they could win a chance at the final table at any time. I have read some people talk about people not attending towards the end of a season because their average could never get to the point where they could win a spot in the ToC. I am trying to avoid this

Right now the league entrance fee is a one time $50. Weekly buy ins are $50 with $10 going to the league for prizes. ToC is $100 buy in + prize money from league dues and additional funds added by taking $10 from every player's buy in every month.

I am thinking about awarding a prize for best player overall and most knock-outs.

That's what I have come up with so far. Please let me know if you see any glaring issues or things that I should avoid. This is a hybrid of the tournaments I have been running and reading a lot about how other people ran their seasons. I would be especially interested to know how you grizzled league veterans run things.

I don't mind hosting, I bought the chips and nice tables and everyone else brings beer/booze and I ask people to have eaten before they arrive.

I am really excited to make my monthly tournaments/games into a league so I want to know what things I need to be thinking about before things get going in a couple of weeks.

Thanks!

CO0LHand
 

TexRex

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Cool, not sure who you are asking, but I’ll give my opinion.

First, honestly I think trying to rank players with multiple tables is challenging. Not every player will start at the same time. If the late arrival comes after someone else has been KO’d, but finishes higher even if he lost it all on the first hand, your system has what I think is a fatal flaw.

Regarding points though, what we do is only give more than participation points if they finish in a “point” position (top 7). If they don’t finish that high, all they get is participation points x 1. If they finish as high as 7[SUP]th[/SUP], their participation points are multiplied by their finish points. That makes it pretty easy to distinguish those who have performed well. We’ve used a system by Bluff Magazine using their formula the first two years. We are changing it for this year just because I think we now have something better. I don’t have to rate thousands, just 30-45 players.

Our system awards points, like many other systems, but that’s not our entire evaluation. I did that the first year, but concluded there were several other ways you could evaluate players and we use several. A lot of people do only points. If it’s well structured, I think it works fine.

There is nothing wrong with requiring them to attend 6 to get to your ToC. That’s not at all what we do. The only potential issue is if everyone is contributing to the ToC every time, but then can’t come to it. In your case, 20% of their buy-in goes toward an event they won’t qualify for. Ours is just under 10%, but everyone is eligible, so what they’ve paid they have a chance to win back. The minute they can’t qualify, logically they should drop out. It’s not hard to plan around that though. Basic rule is if I have to pay for it, I get to play in it. If it doesn’t offer that, then I’m not doing it, even though I’m consistently one of the better players.

It seems to me that 20% of the buy-in going to an event I might not qualify for is a lot. It would be too much for me, even if I was pretty sure I’d be one of those people in it. However, I know there are better options out there. If you are the only game in town, that’s different.

Where I think people lose interest is when they can’t qualify, or the only way to qualify is to win. Not everyone who loses knows they aren’t the best player and will attribute it to luck, but I think most of my players that lose annually know other players are better. They keep coming for the fun and the fellowship and they know they aren’t paying for the best players to get a game to themselves. Thus I don’t have a system that discourages their continued participation. I know that at least some losing player recognize they are out of their league, and they will drop once they know they can’t qualify. Why not just go to a game where what I lose I lose that night, instead of paying to lose on a night I can’t qualify to attend?

You mention both a monthly tournament and a weekly tournament. I’m not sure what it is. If there are 12 winners, that’s a lot for a “final table.” Maybe you meant ToC and it’s a multi-table event. If a guy wins twice, obviously he only gets one spot. There’s nothing wrong with the next highest in points getting a slot so your ToC is full.

I’m not sure what the league fee is, and I’m not sure what you get for it. We have a club fee, and I can clearly show players what they get for that.

Prizes for best overall and most KO’s is fine. We do that. Honestly, I’ve had lengthy discussions with others about what constitutes the best players. Virtually any criteria is like the old college bowl system. “I won my bowl so I can say I’m the best!” There’s really nothing wrong with that. The first year I had several different prizes so a lot of people could say they did something better than others. The only real issue is what criteria you will use to determine who is the best.

The format you seem to describe is a league with a playoff game. While I personally don’t think that fits poker well because not every player can or will play in every game, a lot of people do it and it must work for them. The key is to not have a system that takes too much from those who can’t qualify for that final event. Once they start dropping out, it affects everyone else, and could kill your league.
 

CO0LHand

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Regarding points though, what we do is only give more than participation points if they finish in a “point” position (top 7). If they don’t finish that high, all they get is participation points x 1. If they finish as high as 7[SUP]th[/SUP], their participation points are multiplied by their finish points. That makes it pretty easy to distinguish those who have performed well. We’ve used a system by Bluff Magazine using their formula the first two years. We are changing it for this year just because I think we now have something better. I don’t have to rate thousands, just 30-45 players.

Our system awards points, like many other systems, but that’s not our entire evaluation. I did that the first year, but concluded there were several other ways you could evaluate players and we use several. A lot of people do only points. If it’s well structured, I think it works fine.

Would you be willing to share your system of ranking? I am looking at trying all kinds of different methods but have never set it up before so I am unsure what to do. I just used the one I mentioned before because it was relatively simple to track and score but I am always up to use something that someone like you finds useful.

The league is only meeting monthly. For some reason I keep writing weekly because I think my mind wants it to be that often but it's not realistic so I am shooting for regular monthly games the first season.

I am trying to do my best to keep the league inclusive like you mention so that people don't feel they are playing in it for no reason. That is the reason for the monthly winners being invited to the final table followed by the highest ranked players filling in spots that open up due to someone winning two months in a row or a non-league member winning a monthly game. I do like the idea of an 'open' final game with a larger buy in and handing out more prizes to individuals who did well throughout the season. My main goal is to make the league fun and something that people will come to whenever they can, I don't want to make it exclusive because like you say there are players who know they are donating money to their friends and hanging out because they aren't the best card players and I don't want them to leave.

What were the different prizes you have had before?

The $50 league "entry" fee was my idea to help bump up the prize pool and give league members an investment to keep them coming back. It also helps bump up the final prize pool to get people excited about getting to the final table and joining the league for a chance to get there. If I can add $1000-2000 to the prize in the final game I think there will be a lot of interest.

I suppose having that added prize $$ would increase interest in the final game/ToC and get more people to buy in so that might not be a bad idea at all.

Anyhow, thanks!

CO0LHand
Thanks for the reply too, it's a big help.
 

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The league is only meeting monthly. For some reason I keep writing weekly because I think my mind wants it to be that often but it's not realistic so I am shooting for regular monthly games the first season.

Are you able to host a game every two weeks?
 

ChaosRock

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Sorry for the delay TR, was out of the pocket for the last two days...

To your question, buy-ins are $40 + $10 league fee... Re-buys only $40 of course... I thought about having a one time league fee but I think players would be reluctant to paying it without knowing how much they could commit to attending the games... And the fee would have to be high so that the ToC and Final League Ranking prizes would be meaningful...

I believe the reason it works is that the total number of players in the 'running' is only 12-14 (so there's always the chance of making the ToC)... Other more sporadic players don't really care much about paying the $10s to attend the games and have a good time... Past seasons, there was excitement until the last tournament with people fighting for the top four positions and people fighting to make the top 10 for the ToC...

If I was to do optional league fee, since my players are starting to get serious about poker, I don't think I'd have a league... So the $10 per tourney, ranks and ToC kinda make them competitive and committed to the season... And if some drop for whatever reason, the player only paid for the tourneys he/she played...

I am thinking about opening up attendance for the ToC for players outside top 10 as long as they match the largest fee contribution. Some players are against though as they believe it would diminish the excitement of 'making it' to the ToC...

As you said, many, many ways of running a league for sure...


Choas, there are a lot of different ways to do things. I like hearing how others do it, and I've heard several times about steps groups take to keep players interested. I'm glad we don't have that issue. For ours, if a person had no interest in awards, or participating in the Main Event, they just want to play poker, they are welcome. They can come when they want to, and it's still a poker tournament. This year over 90% of the entry fee was paid out that night in prize money (with the rest rolled over to our Main Event), and in 2015, it will be 100%. Our Main Event is our biggest event of the year. Your TOC is probably the smallest in terms of the number of entrants. How much is your league fee?

We have a $10 per calendar year membership fee (it's a club). It pays for the cards and awards. For that fee, players get 2/3 more in chips every tournament, the right to vote, and an invitation to the Main Event. We also have a newsletter, but it actually goes to a few people who aren't members. Players really like our format, and I like that players don't lose interest in it because they no longer have a chance.

We had a cash game going several years ago. We finally decided we would try a tournament, and found it was a lot easier to get players to come for a tournament instead of a cash game. Eventually I've become almost exclusively a tournament player not by design, but because that's what we could get people for. I've come to like tournament better, so I'm not even trying to get into cash games. I know they are around, and I know I could get invites, but just not putting the effort in.
 

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Cool, I'm breaking this into two posts since all together it is too long.

Yes, I’m willing to share what we use! PM me your email address and I’ll send you the spreadsheet, though at the moment it’s being updated and that might take a couple of days. The only issue is my own inability to provide technical assistance on it. Here is how we are structured and why. I’m not claiming it’s the best way, but if you understand the why, it will help you focus on what you want or what would work best for your group.

Main Event vs. Table of Champions
I’m going to start with the end of the year tournament. While there might be several formats, it seems to me there are two basic structures. I’ll label them the Tournament of Champions (ToC) and the Classic (terminology stolen from Zombie). We call our classic the Main Event (ME) and I’ll use that term here.

In a ToC, you are trying to be exclusive about who comes. Some will use staggered chip stacks, awarding those who scored the most, however that is done, with larger chip stacks, though that doesn’t have to be done. If you have people who aren’t eligible for the ToC paying for it, especially if they are paying a lot for it, I think eventually you will have people dropping out.

In an ME format, you aren’t trying to be exclusive, but inclusive. Players have paid all year toward the ME in hopes they will all play. The way we have done it, the ME is only open to our members. Everyone pays exactly the same to get in, and everyone gets exactly the same chip stack.

Neither one is right or wrong of course. It’s a matter of taste and what you are trying to accomplish. But I think if you are going to try to keep interest high, the ME type format works better to do that since at no point is anyone excluded if they’ve attended a game. The minimum number of games attended could still be used, but for us it’s 1.

When I first put our league together I let people vote on which they preferred. The Main Event won by 3-2. Oddly, only 2 of our players who voted for the ToC would have qualified for it.

Interestingly, of the people who have dropped out of our group, all of those who voted in that poll voted for a ToC. I’m not sure what to make of that, but what I suspect is some people get intensely involved in poker and things like leagues and ToC’s sound good, but when they realize they aren’t near the top, they leave, burn out, or move on to something else. The ones who like the ME type format may be very competitive, but they do this for the social aspects and are more likely to stay long-term. It’s a small sample, but definitely thought provoking.

There are two sub-issues related to this topic.

Winning, Break-even, and Losing Players
I’m surprised at how many poker groups seem to focus on doing stuff for their winning players. Truthfully, a successful poker game revolves around losing players. Without them, your game would quickly shrink, and when. Based on many years of observation and record keeping, I find that consistent winning players make up between 10-35% of players. Losing players make up between 25-50% of players. The others are the break-evens, meaning slightly ahead or behind. Chase those losers and break even players out, and your game disappears.

My philosophy is to try to keep those losing and break-even players happy. If I have a loser make a suggestion, if I can accommodate it, I will. I don’t mean I’d ignore a suggestion from a winning player, because I’ll consider any suggestion made by one of my players, but winners will stay because they are winning. Losers are never going to stay because they are winning. If they stay, it will be for other reasons. A good poker group (league, game, club, or whatever) has to be able to attract losing players and replace them over time. Some winning players contribute nothing other than their presence – they don’t help make it a good event. Honestly, I’m not doing anything for those types. They are there to win and that’s it.

When I make decisions about things, I want to find way to make it attractive to losers. Some of them get quite a kick out of playing in a much bigger event, but to make that attractive, they want to feel like they have an even chance. The other thing about this is they can't afford to play at those buy-ins all the time, but once a year, they will do.

Staggered Buy-in vs. Same Buy-in
One thing I heard from several players when I started is how annoyed they were at groups where for the big event, some players paid less to get in than others. I didn’t poll players, but did talk to several and found that most players didn’t like the staggered buy-ins. They think it’s unfair and wanted everyone paying the same. They weren’t as universal on everyone starting with the same chip stack, but most preferred that as well.

I’m personally not a fan of league fees where its purpose is to provide prize money for the big event. Our club fee goes to cover expenses and if expenses are less than anticipated, the overage goes to the ME prize pool.

***
My conclusion from these three issues led me to the ME format, trying to include everyone, make it even to start, and have everyone pay the same to enter it. I definitely don’t want to have people paying who don’t qualify for it as I fear they would just drop out the next time and never come back. Over time, I’ve found that when people drop out for a perceived unfairness, it’s very difficult to talk them into coming back. When they drop for other reasons, sometimes they will come back.

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Now Part II.

How We Evaluate Players
When I put this together, I tried to think of things we could actually measure without too much difficulty. It may be possible to develop a points system that will do that comprehensively, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. But I could figure out ways to distinguish between players who performed better than others in several measurable categories. From there, I tried to figure out from those categories which ones were easier to accomplish and which were the most difficult. I also considered some things other players suggested that I ultimately rejected. I won't try to cover those here.

First is Total Points (TP), calculated by multiplying their participation points by their finish points. Players are rewarded for attending by receiving 1 point (which is their “participation” point) x (# of entrants/10) = Total Points. If we have 30, all get 3 points just for attending. Points are the easiest thing to accumulate in our system, so as I’ll explain, by themselves, they count less than other criteria. I’ll get to how we are doing the top 7 finish points in a bit. This is exactly the structure Bluff Magazine uses -- # of entrants x finish points. The reason for dividing the entrants by 10 is because that duplicates the ratios Bluff Magazine uses for all but the very lowest levels. Since we started this, we’ve not had fewer than 16, which is above their lowest points.

First is Total Points (TP), calculated by multiplying their participation points by their finish points. Participation points = # of entrants/10. If we have 30, all get 3 points just for attending. Finish Points base based on where they finish. Everyone receives 1 finish point. The top 7 get more points (see below for how many more).

Points are the easiest thing to accumulate in our system, so as I’ll explain, by themselves, they count less than other criteria. This is exactly the structure Bluff Magazine uses -- # of entrants x finish points. The reason for dividing the entrants by 10 is because that duplicates the ratios Bluff Magazine uses for all but the very lowest levels.

I don’t even read Bluff Magazine, but since they evaluate thousands of players, it seems likely that they put a lot of thought into it. I have some confidence that by using their basic structure, I have a reasonable system to start. However, there are a lot of things they don’t measure that I could identify as measurable. Since we started this, we’ve not had fewer than 16, which is above their lowest points.

Here’s our finish point system for 2015. The 2014 points on are parenthesis, and behind the hyphen is the total points in a game with 30 for each position.
1[SUP]st[/SUP] = 34 (17) -- 102
2[SUP]nd[/SUP] = 21 (13) -- 63
3[SUP]rd[/SUP] = 13 (10) -- 39
4[SUP]th[/SUP] = 8 (7) -- 24
5[SUP]th[/SUP] = 5 (5) -- 15
6[SUP]th[/SUP] = 3 (3) -- 9
7[SUP]th[/SUP] = 2 (2) -- 6
8[SUP]th[/SUP] – 30[SUP]th[/SUP] = 1 -- 1

Our 2014 system was based only on payout positions. So if we only paid 5 places, the highest got 10. I realized late in the year (thanks to Zombie) that one player could cause a dramatic upward swing in points that was disproportionate to the value of adding one player. I’ve fixed that for 2015.

After rejecting what I’m going with in 2015 for 2 years, I decided after considerable study to use what is called a Fibonacci sequence (the next number is the sum of the previous 2) for finish points. I did it because it is a naturally occurring number pattern, and after running 2014 through both systems, felt it more accurately distinguished between players. The 2014 system might allow a much lesser player to stay closer to a top player, which created the possibility that one bad performance by the top guy when then lesser player gets lucky one night would allow the lesser player to end up ahead. Part of that is caused by only a 12 game season, which is actually pretty short to evaluate poker players. So while this sequence appears to have a wide disparity between top and bottom

We had one player win 3 tournaments out of the 11 he attended in 2014, and finish in the money 5 times. His performance was dominating. He finished in the top 3 of 42 players in all 10 of our criteria, and was #1 in 7 of those categories. Two other players finished in the top 3 in 6 categories; no one else was close. All three were in the money in our last game, and all 3 went in with a chance to win. His winning that game put him over the top.

Second is knockouts (KO’s). If there are 30 players, and no chop, there will be 29 KO’s in the tournament. At least in terms of numbers, KO’s are the second easiest thing to accomplish.

Some speculate that some players good at KO’s wait until those players lose a big hand and then wipe them out. That does happen. But over time, I found that this is actually a skill and some players are just better at KO’ing other players, and in some cases, a lot better. Some good players are not good at this. When two players are equal at everything else though, this is a good way to distinguish between those two players. That’s the kind of measurable I was looking for to distinguish between players, something that would tip the scales in overall performance.

Third is Final Table (FT) appearances. In most months, we have 10 at the FT and each of those players gets a point in that category. Each player gets 1 point for each FT appearance. If two players happen to get KO’d from different tables in the last hand before the bubble, then we only have 9. Neither of them gets credit for a FT appearance. That happened twice in 12 games in 2014.

Fourth is In the Points (ITP). There are 7 of the ITP positions, so they are harder to get than the previous criteria. Each of those 7 players gets 1 point in that category.

Fifth is Tournament Wins (TW). There is only 1 of those. It’s the single hardest thing to accomplish. Each player gets 1 point in this category for a TW and .5 points for a chop.

Each of those is subdivided into total and per game performance. Then each category is totaled for all players. Each player’s total is divided by the total. Those percentages, when added up, are 1 per category. We show out to 3 decimal places, so every player’s score reads like a baseball batting average.

We add all 10 scores. That might make it appear that each category is equal, but it isn’t. Since there are only a total of 12 TW, the players who got one scored .082 points as 10% of their score, whereas at least 30 players go less than that (either .041 for chops or .000). The top player in that category scored .250. Thus, the hardest things to do naturally count more since the player who does the best at those categories gets significantly more than average in those categories.

Looking at our totals and ignoring per game performance, TP = 1226.2; KO = 232; FT = 118; ITP would = 84 (but only 64 as used in 2014); and TW = 12. A player’s percentage of those totals in each category are the percentages added. That means 1 TW = 102.18 TP = 19.33 KO = 9.83 FT = 7 ITP. By this system, the most difficult things to do count the most.
 

TexRex

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Apparently I can't post Part III until someone else replies.

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Part III


Awards that we use
We require that players attend 7 games to be eligible for an award, but only 1 to attend the ME. Our awards are based only on the 12 regular games since they are all the same basic format. We have a couple of tournaments where we do something special, but it doesn’t change the format.

What we give out for awards is a custom 2” ceramic card protector with the name of the award and the year on it, each with its own custom design.

We don’t count the ME because the format is very different. Chip stacks are 4x as much. The allotted time is 50% longer. So if we counted it, we would be counting something that is fundamentally different than the regular games. We only use the ME to count something if there is a tie. We’ve had one tie in both years that was or will be decided at the ME. Our 2014 ME is next Saturday. Last year Top Bounty Hunter was tied so we went by KO’s in the ME. It was me and another player. My only KO of the game was him, and he got none. Had he had 1 also, I would have won based on better finish position. This year, there is a tie for our 5[SUP]th[/SUP] spot, our Tall Cotton award. It will be decided by better position if both make the FT, or by only one making it, or by overall points if both of those fail.

Top Gun – This goes to the player who has the highest score in all 10 categories.
Men’s and Ladies Player of the Year – This goes to the highest score for each sex in all 10 categories, though for whichever sex wins the Top Gun, it will go to the second highest for that sex. For the record this year, our LPOY is ranked 8[SUP]th[/SUP] since men are the top 7 spots. I think it would be too suspicious if we gave a male the LPOY award! ;)
Top Bounty Hunter – This goes to the player who KO’d the most number of players during the year.
This is the last year for the following two awards. I dropped them because it just gives out awards to the next two players overall and has been that way both years. I really thought they’d measure something different. We have a tie for the second one going into the ME.
Most in the Money – This measures 6 of our 10 categories – In the Points, Total Points, and Tournament Wins. These are all things a player gets by being in the money.
Tall Cotton – This measures KO’s and Final Table appearances. These are things indicating a player did well, but not related to them being in the money.

Note on prizes – A lot of people could supply ideas for prizes and awards. Ours are all related to measurable performance, and limited to those who have done the best. But I’ve had players make suggestions that I liked. I might do a paper award (like a self-printed certificate) for things I like. I’m seriously thinking about this year asking players at the end of the year, if they were to give out some offbeat awards, what would the award be and who would they give it to? I’ll print those up and award those to players if they are complimentary. That way people know others in the group appreciate them for something.

Bracelet Winners
Every monthly winner receives a 2” ceramic custom card protector (we call them bracelets – modeled after the WSOP, but obviously not a bracelet). The 12 monthly tournament winners all receive identical bracelets. The Main Event winner receives a special custom card protector for that event. I’m considering adding one custom one for our October event.

Our cost per award and bracelet (the card protectors), including artwork but not shipping, is about $240-250 per year. Paper certificates would run less than $10. Our players voted to keep the awards, and that’s the single largest expense of our club.
 

CO0LHand

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Yea thanks very much TexRex.


I am looking at a 10-20 person league for this inaugural season so I will have to look at your system and make sure it works for my needs but this is super helpful to read.
 

TeamNapoli

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So a few of the cafes got together and are putting together a 2020 poker tournament for the local players. Local i mean regular customers.
There is a initial membership fee ( amount not sure yet) and each tournament has 150 entry and another 50 to go towards over all rankings at the end no buy backs. the plan is for 9 tournaments but might be changed to 8 (outcome depending on meeting). Target is 3 tables with 6 - 8 players a tables. Two winners from each table will make final table.
point system being discussed and will be voted on

Attendance +5
no show -5
if you need to be spoken to -10
"collected" bounties are +10 points each , basically winner cant count thier own
most bounties for individual tournament +10... if 2 tie each player +10 more than 2 each player +5 (this one seems in high debate might change at meeting)
2 individual table survivors +20 each
final table winner +30(+40 is being discussed)
final table 2nd place +20
final table 3rd place +10

If you need to be removed from the game ..all point and life will be forfeited..........just kidding
i do believe the bounty points might be reduced
 

Mojo1312

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I have a pool of 14 players and we meet every 6 weeks or so for a tournament. Typically it's very low value - £10 buy-in, no rebuys - and I have between 6-9 players on average.

Moving into the new year I'm looking for something that may spice up the format. This year we had 8 tournaments and next year I expect it will also be 7 or 8. Some players play most tournaments, some play very few. Most play 4 or 5. I usually keep an 'all-time leaderboard' and a 'your last last 8 tournaments' table just to create a bit more rivalry.

But for next year, is there any way to have a 'player of the year' with so few tournaments? Or build up to an end of year tournament? Or is it really just too small-scale?

I would be grateful for any ideas.

Is there a reason why you do not host a bi-monthly or monthly tournament?
 
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