The Best Two Tournaments in the World

I haven’t been playing much live poker in 2006. Nappies, teddy bears and Pokerstars have been centre of attention in the last 12 months or so. But, despite these good intentions, I really couldn’t turn down the chance to play in the two best poker tournaments in the World.

I was offered a seat in the 2005 William Hill Grand Prix. As Jake was due to make his first appearance around that time I naturally turned the opportunity down but, this year, wild horses couldn’t keep me away.

I have declined the opportunity to play in televised tournaments before. The reason? Someone, somewhere is making LOADS of money out of televised poker and in most events none of this money is going to the players who are the stars of the show. Players give up a lot in televised poker and I have always thought they should get something in return for the hassle of travelling to the studio, getting made up and showing their hole cards. Imagine Tiger Woods or Phil Taylor appearing in a tournament where they just compete for the entry fees of all the other players. It just ain’t gonna happen. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame sponsored players trying to get their sponsors tv time when they are freerolling. But, for self financed players, the over whelming number of televised tournaments are a total waste of time. The entreprenuers who organise these events are getting rich at our expense and giving nothing back. I think we should tell them to stick their European Opens where the sun don’t shine.

The William Hill Grand Prix is different, however. Hills want to attract a good field to their event and pull out all the stops to achieve this aim. Players expenses were taken care of; we were put up in a five star hotel with bottles of champagne on ice waiting for us in our rooms and the structure of the event was very player friendly. No crap shoot here. But best of all, there was added money. A lot of added money. £164,000 to be precise. Although the buyin was high (6 grand) any poker player worth his salt would beg, borrow or steal to play this event. Contractural obligations mean I cannot divulge how I fared in this tournament, but it’s safe to assume if I get invited to play again the answer will be a very definite "yes!".

Then onto Amsterdam for the Masterclassics of Poker. This has long been my favourite tournament on the European schedule. The extra curriculla activity is such a craic you really aren’t that upset when you get knocked out. Except when you get knocked out of the main event that is. Because, without question, the Lido tournament is the best value tournament in Europe, maybe the world. A quick list of the incentives to play:

  1. The event is juice free. Every penny taken in entry fees is paid back to the players.
  2. Players who finish 19th to 27th get their stake money (€5000) back. This 45 grand is paid for by Holland Casinos, not out of the prize fund. Yes, added money!
  3. All players lucky enough to reach the final table get a free entry to next year’s WSOP. That’s another $90,000 in added money.
  4. All players receive vouchers for free food and drink.
  5. The structure of the tournament is amazing. We played for about 9 hours on day 1 and when we came back for day 2 the blinds were only 200-400! There was so much time to play even the tightest rocks had a chance to find a hand.

It’s a truly great poker tournament. As one guy said to me during day 1: "I don’t know why they give out so much free stuff here, the players would come to this tournament regardless!". And of course he’s right. But let’s not tell the people who run the tournament that! Instead let’s just be grateful and as poker players support this event every year by turning up in ever increasing numbers.

These 2 poker tournaments should be an example to the rest. Many casinos are increasing the juice and therefore decreasing the value to players. And in so many events there is now a sponsor, but none of the sponsors money trickles down to the players.

It’s time for a change. Let those who provide the entertainment get paid for doing so!