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Why the BBT Point System was PERFECT

There's been a decent amount of chat amonst the intertubes discussing the point system in the recently completed Battle of the Blogger Tournaments. The two sides of the argument seem to be that the system was based on Poker Stars' system, and therefore is fair vs. the highest money winners did not necessarily correlate to the top 50 point earners, making a flawed system. Well, folks, I'm an opinionated prick, but I'm also fairly logical, and I'm here to tell you that the BBT point system wasn't just was PERFECT! But to understand that, you need to look at the BBT as a whole and discern what, exactly, the BBT is rewarding.

The beauty of an event like the BBT is its ability to drum up large playing fields. This is done by creating a hype around the event by way of a leaderboard, point system, prizes and publicity. The publicity certainly goes a long way, but its the points, leaderboard and prizes that keep the players loyal and consistent. If the BBT didn't have these things (leaderboard, points and prizes), there would be less incentive to play and we would essentially have had the same numbers in blogger tournaments as the pre-BBT days. This would have been fine, but the point of the BBT was to increase involvement, so right there we have the #1 goal of the BBT: Encourage mass participation.

Now we've established the goal of the BBT, to get poker bloggers into these poker blogger tournaments. Now, lets look at the best way to encourage this, with particular focus on the three things I keep mentioning, the leaderboard, points and prizes.

There have been three primary groups that must be examined to understand this issue: (1) those who won money but did not get many points, and (2) those who didn't win significant money but got many points, and (3) those who did not win points or money but played 1/2 of the events to get into the freeroll.

The first group, the Money Leaders, are the main opponent to the current scoring system, and from their prespective, their argument makes perfect sense. They won the most money, and therefore must be regarded as one of the better players in the field, since money is the scorecard of poker. It seems to make sense, but only if you lose sight of the number one goal of the BBT, to encourage mass participation. Take, for instance, twoblackaces, who is listed as number 2 on the money leader board and number 89 on the points board. On its face, it would appear that twoblackaces was robbed of his rightful position in the freeroll. He won the 2nd most money (behind my boy and number one stunna, TripJax, holla if ya hear me!) but he still wasn't considered in the top 50 of the tournament!

But really, twoblackaces has nothing to complain about, because he probably got the greatest benefit from the BBT giving the BBT anything worthwhile. Let me explain. Twoblackaces won over $1200 from the BBT by playing in only ONE even, a Blogger Big Game. If it weren't for the BBT, the Big Game would have had a smaller field, reducing that sole win from $1200 to probably $1000 or less. So, even though twoblackaces isn't in the freeroll, he already benefited from the BBT by winning from that larger prizepool. Meanwhile, did twoblackaces help the BBT? Hell no! The BBT was looking for loyal players to build the freeroll prizepool, essentially, the rake from each tournament, thanks to a great deal arranged with Full Tilt by the BBT organizers. Twoblackaces only put about $6 into the shared prizepool and didn't return for any other games. So, while it may appear that he is NOT rewarded for his great job, that isn't true at all. He is awarded by the larger payout during the tournament, but BBT won't bend over backwards and hurt its own goal just to make twoblackaces extra happy. He got his $1k+, so enjoy! (Mind you, I don't know who twoblackaces is, and I am merely using him as an example of people who did well on the money leader board, but not the point leader board).

So, those who won a lot of money but did not play a lot of tournaments benefited from the BBT with larger prize pools, while offering the BBT close to nothing. Hence, they got their benefit, and do not get the added benefit of the freeroll. The next logical step is to look at those who did get into the freeroll and determine why they should get into the freeroll when other more profitable players didn't.

One of the largest complaints is that the BBT encouraged players to fold into the points, bastardizing the game of poker and making the BBT tournaments somehow tainted. I heartily disagree with this notion. Those profitable players who are complaining about people folding into the money are really missing the mark. Instead of complaining about these players, they should be celebrating them. Players who are willing to fold into the points with no chips are essentially dead money for the second half of the tournament. Some of them might get lucky on a few occassions, but for the most part, the more active players can constantly take their chips until the points bubble and then have enough chips compared to the point whores (I mean that nicely) to dominate into a money spot. Again, the profitable players BENEFIT from the very thing they complain about, but because we are ALL so focused on the BBT leaderboard, we ignore that benefit conferred and focus on the benefit NOT conferred, the freeroll.

Does the BBT point system encourage people to go for points instead of cash? The answer is plainly No. Some people may have chosen to go that route, but it is not an optimal strategy. Why? Because getting into the freeroll just isn't worth it. The freeroll consists of 1/2 of all of the rake played in the BBT. Assuming a player plays ONLY one half of the BBT events, he is essentially paying his way into the freeroll. If he plays MORE THAN HALF of the BBT events, he is paying more money into the freeroll than his equity in the event. Some might argue that I am ignoring all of the other players throwing money into the freeroll via rake who do not get to play the freeroll. True. But you are ignoring the hundreds in actual buy-ins that were lost by the point whores in their attempt to get into the top 50 leaderboard spots. So, in reality, playing for points is like throwing money down the drain. So you may be wondering why we reward these "stupid" players who throw money down the drain. The reason: they gave the BBT what it wanted, loyal players mixed with some dead money. They were the chum that got the sharks (i.e., the profit leaders) to swim. They made the BBT as juicy as it was. Realistically, I'm not talking about anyone in particular and I don't mean to disparage anyone. I merely am offering another way for those profit leaders to feel about the apparent injustice of rewarding the point whores. I also want to add that this is exactly the type of thing that the BBT should be doing for these consistent players (either consistently scoring well or willing to play 20 events). They should be giving them something back for their time and money, and a freeroll is just that thing. Its not even handing them the money back. Its making them earn it. In this regards, the BBT completes its purpose, encouraging players to actually play multiple BBT events.

From those two groups, the money leaders and the point whores, we have one last group, the point leaders. That group consists of the top 6 point spots. If you placed in the top 6 spots overall in the points board, you won either a cash or electronics prize. This is the final group of competitors, those who benefited the most from the format of the BBT, if not from the actual event. I make this distinction because 3 out of those 5 players were actually net losers in the BBT tournaments, without considering any leaderboard prizes. Those players who were not profitable but still made the top 6 deserve a kickback, essentially, for their hard work. They played an obscene about of tournaments, since all of the top 6 played at least 31 of the 39 events. They put time, effort and prizepool money (both in individual tournaments and toward the freeroll prize pool) into the events and were able to perform consistently enough to accumulate the most amount of points. They are essentially the cream of the crop of the point whores, the Heidi Fleiss of point whores, if you will, and for thier time and sacrifice, they get a rebate/reward. In this way the BBT encourages extreme participation, its main goal, and does what it sets out to do.

The second subgroup of the point leaders is the most exciting, the Winners. This group are the players who got an overlay prize and profited during the BBT events. These players DESERVE everything they got because they fulfilled everyone's goals by playing in lots of events (BBT's goal) and making the endeavor profitable (by winning the most points). Hence, they receive the greatest benefit, a large guaranteed portion of the rake pool and/or free prizes. These players truly are the BBT champions because they balanced consistent attendance with good performance as opposed to the profit leaders (good performance, inconsistent attendance or results) and the point whores (consistent attendance and results, but bad performances).

By creating the varied "prizes," the BBT accomplished its goal, to encourage larger tournament turnouts. Some think that giving all of the prizes to the most profitable makes sense. After all, they are the best players based on the traditional poker scoring method, money. But the BBT isn't about finding the most profitable player. Its about getting the community out, so it just makes more sense to spread the prizes. Specifically, those prizes need to go to the people who are not necessarily the most profitable. They need to go to the players who would otherwise not play the events because they are not the great players that the profitable players are. They need to go to the players who played many events, making the BBT what it is. So, in the end, I think the BBT scoring system was perfect. It spread the wealth and worked toward the BBT's goal. And it doesn't hurt that I made a fatty profit of $25 and entered the freeroll in the high 40s out of 50. Yep, that's right, I'm a veritable point whore.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:20 AM,


At 1:28 PM, Blogger AlCantHang said...

Very nice. I wish I knew you wrote this before I put my crappy hangover post up today.

Well said and thanks.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Nicely written. Well done, Jordan.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice! I read A LOT of poker blogs and have been fascinated for months about this BBT thing. I've enjoyed reading all of the summaries of the relevant tourneys. And your summary of the points system makes the whole structure very attractive. Leading me to a question... how can I get involved? I do not have a blog myself, nor the means to start one. But I do routinely comment to many bloggers, and often am made to feel like "one of the gang." Do I need a special invitation for the next time one of these "BBTs" is held? Can I just steal the "password" from one of the bloggers and enter into the events? Thanks in advance HighOn, I appreciate the insight!

At 3:52 PM, Blogger DuggleBogey said...

Perfect? Hardly.

The prizes/points system HEAVILY favored those people who could play in 35-40 tournaments. Those who could not commit to AT LEAST 35 tournaments MIGHT AS WELL NOT COMPETE for the overall prizes.

Luckily your target players weren't bright enough to figure that out. Yes, there was a benefit that there were more players in each tournament, but if that's what you want you should play in the daily zillion player tournaments that every site hosts.

I believe a far superior system would have been to take the top 20 or so tournaments out of the 39 possible and throw out your bottom scores after you've played more than 20.

That way there is a benefit to playing more than 20 tournaments as you have a chance to improve your overall score, but you are not penalized for not being able to commit more that HALF THE DAYS OF A TWO MONTH SPAN.

The schedule was ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS for anyone that has a life outside of online poker, and the system made it IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPETE if you couldn't.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Cayne, the BBT is over, but next time its coming around, you can join merely by playing the scheduled events. The passwords are all very public, and readers are encouraged to join us. If you are still interested in playing some of the blogger tournaments (they still happen weekly), check out the Mookie on Wednesdays for $10 on FullTilt at 10pm EST (password: vegas1) and the Hoy on Mondays at 10pm EST on FT for $26 or a token (password: hammer). There are also Riverchaser events every Thursday or so at 9 or 9:30 or something, but check out for more details.

Duggles, stop your bellyaching. I played in less than 1/2 the events and still had enough points for the freeroll. In fact, a couple of people made it into the freeroll with 12 events. If you couldn't play 12 events then you don't deserve the freeroll. It's a FREEroll, but that doesn't mean it has to be given to everyone freely. Plain and simple, the system did what it intended to do. It spread the money out, and encouraged higher BLOGGER attendance.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Cayne you are always welcome at any BBT or other poker blogger tournament. We only have one or two tournaments a year that are for "bloggers only", and those will be well publicized ahead of time. You can feel free to show up at any regular weekly blogger tournament, "steal" the password from one of our blogs, and join in the fun.

Jordan, I am amazed that you and Al both made the same point about how the non-folding-to-the-points players among us should be happy about the points-folders. I think that idea misses the mark entirely, at least missing the point that I was trying to make about it. I'm not going to argue that the points-folding donks hurt my performance in the BBT tournaments. You are 100% correct, those people are laughable, their strategy is laughably exploitable, and their tightness equates to free chips for the first 90 minutes every time we sit down to play. So yes, those points-folders were, in fact, +EV for the better players in these BBT tournaments, I agree 100%.

But that still doesn't make it right. You were so close in your post when you wrote this, but then at the end I feel like you veered away from exactly the point I am getting at. You said:

"One of the largest complaints is that the BBT encouraged players to fold into the points, bastardizing the game of poker and making the BBT tournaments somehow tainted. I heartily disagree with this notion. Those profitable players who are complaining about people folding into the money are really missing the mark. Instead of complaining about these players, they should be celebrating them."

See, I agree with the second part of what you said. If my only interest is increasing my profitability from the BBT tournaments, then I would not want to tap on the glass and instead should be happy about all the points-folders. But you overlook what you yourself said in the first part of that quote above. Encouraging people to "fold to the points" really does bastardize the game of poker, and in some ways it really does "taint" the games. It certainly makes them far less fun for me to participate in, when so many players clearly have an agenda of hanging on tight until the top half of the field. More profitable, maybe. But not more fun to play in. That's my point about the points-folders, not that they made it harder to make a profit but rather that it ruined the natural poker game of a great many of these players which to me is a huge negative.

We established a points system that did -- factually speaking here -- encourage people to fold to the points. Some of the people who played especially tight, reserved poker for the first couple hours every week actually made it into the top few spots on the final BBT leaderboard, and ended up winning a nice prize and/or some nice cash for their points-folding efforts. Similarly, there is this thing called bragging rights that, while you may or may not be concerned about, a great many people near the top of the board did care quite a bit about. Waffles, Blinders, these are guys who routinely wrote in their blogs about their standings on the leaderboard, their desire to finish top 5, top 10 or whatever.

So the bottom line is that by creating the BBT points system like we did, we actually did encourage players to fold to the points, because as I commented on Al's blog this morning, folding to the points proved to be a winning strategy under this scoring system. For some people the "winning" involved money and prizes, and for others it involved winning the bragging rights that they were interested in. So I think it is affirmatively inaccurate for you to say that "plainly No" the BBT points system did not encourage people to go for the points. Just a brief look at the BBT leaderboard as compared to the BBT profitability board, and a quick look at the actual quality of play in these tournaments, I think makes it pretty clear that a great many people did in fact play tight until the points. Not sure how that could be argued otherwise.

I love your post, but honestly I think you are the only person out there who still seems to think that 50% of the field receiving points is the right answer. And you and I are 100% on the same page about the overall goal being to increase participation and community, but at the expense of literally changing the way people play poker? Not for me.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger Julius_Goat said...

Lawyers + poker bloggers = crazy delicious.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Jordan said...


"Encouraging people to "fold to the points" really does bastardize the game of poker, and in some ways it really does "taint" the games. It certainly makes them far less fun for me to participate in, when so many players clearly have an agenda of hanging on tight until the top half of the field."


The key to your argument is that YOU had less fun because people were folding to the points? Hoy, as you know, you are not the only player playing, so whether you would have had more fun individually is not the litmus test on the points system. Who do you know who folded to the points consistently and made a profit overall? I'm not talking about one or even a few tournaments when people near the top or near the 50 cutoff tried to earn points. I'm talking about people who turned folding into the points into a +EV play for the entire tournament. There are none. The points may have encouraged the play, but only the way a money bubble encourages players to play for the last money spot. Its tempting to some players to merely cash (or get points), but it isn't profitable.

And what the does it mean anyway to bastardize poker? Someone decides to play a different strategy than you and suddenly the game is bastardized? Its just another bubble to get over, plain and simple.

I sincerely doubt that you played these tournaments with a frown on because people were folding to your raises on the points bubble. The BBT had a goal, this point system fulfilled the goal, and if there was another BBT, you can change the point system any way you want, but someone would complain and less people would have an opportunity to share in the bounty, be it via top prizes, cashes in tournaments or the freeroll. You would be consolidating those into a few people, and I don't think that should be the goal or outcome of the BBT.

At 4:56 PM, Blogger TripJax said...


As I mentioned, the points was never a big issue, good or bad, for me. I played my game and where ever I ended up was the way it was.

And even though it may seem trivial and argumentative to keep bringing all these issues up, I think it is a good thing. Some systems need updating - even if only minor - and I think the BBT system could use some tinkering with.

It was a good thing. It can be a better thing.

Long live BBTwo!

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

#1 I do hope you bring back the DADI in some form. I know it would be fun and I am positive it will be well-received.

#2 Thanks for the reply to my comment. To answer a few of your points though, I absolutely played these tournaments with a frown on, because of the difference in the way many people played them as compared to how they always played the very same blonkaments before (and after) the BBT was in effect. And this obviously has nothing to do with me personally or with people folding to my raises (do I ever even raise?) There are a great many people who were not pleased with how the points scoring system actually changed the way people played the games. Of course your point is 100% correct that everyone is free to play however they want and we all have to get over that, no doubt, but that doesn't mean that I would be happy about an administrative thing like the scoring system that actually encourages those sorts of behavioral deviations. Quite the contrary, I would be happy about a scoring system that is so "pure" that it doesn't change the way anyone plays these events. That's what I think we ought to be striving for, because again to be clear, yes it was very annoying to me watching people play in a way that I know is opposite to how they normally play poker. Not just to me, but to a great many people who participated in these tournaments. When your scoring system is causing those kind of differences, I would say it's basically proof right there that it needs to change.

The other thing is that you ignored the very real point I was making about people playing the BBT Leaderboard for bragging rights. I did not before and would not ever dispute your claim that playing for points is not going to make a profit. That is clearly true, and the numbers back this up without a doubt. But I personally have had conversations with more than half of the top 20 BBT final leaders where they have admitted to caring a great deal about where they finish in the points race. Moreso even than if they get a prize, these people played events to get points, not to make money. Not that they didn't want any money, but that their goal coming in was to make the points, and then maybe worry about finding a way to cash if at all possible.

So again, I'm not trying to argue that we made folding to the points into a profitable exercise. But the fact is the BBT is about getting everyone together to come out and play poker, not to play some bastardized brand of poker that is different from how these people normally play because of some silly mathematical formula being used. IMO we won't have the scoring system right until everyone is coming out and trying to WIN THE GAMES playing their best brand of winning poker, instead of just trying to fold to halfway and then donk, playing a brand of poker that you, me and everyone else agrees is by definition -EV from a cash perspective. We failed in that endeavor this time around.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger bayne_s said...

(1) those who won money but did not get many points, and (2) those who didn't win significant money but got many points, and (3) those who did not win points or money but played 1/2 of the events to get into the freeroll.

Don't think Hoy or I really fit into the above groups.

Hopefully you still rue the day you went past current #1 on MATH leaderboard!
Points system clearly favored a playing style similar to Blinders where before antes kick in wait patiently for good situations to get chips in vs. Hoy's style where he pushes smaller edges. The weak/tight and tight/aggressive certainly were more likely to get to points just from natural playing styles.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger Patch said...

cayne: You obviously have a computer and a browser. You DO have the means to start a blog. There are lots of places that host completely free blogs. I don't pay anything for mine at

hoy: This feels weird -- arguing with you on Jordan's blog. You're talking like there's some purity of poker we all should be striving to maintain, yet just the other day you posted about your bust-out in the MATH as though you purposely donked off your chips just because you could. That the whole point of the blogger tournaments was so bloggers could relax and play like donkeys. Where's the purity in that? You really can't have it both ways. Either these tournaments are a place to have fun and play like a donkey or they're SERIOUS poker where everyone should be acting as though they're in the WSOP ME.

The only thing the points did was create a bubble similar to what you get in large tournaments where there are a bunch of people who've just barely lasted a couple hours and are trying to squeak into the money so they can say they made $1.50 for their three hours time instead of losing $5. I dare say nobody sat down at the beginning of any of these with the express intent of folding their way into the points. Did some people start playing tighter as the points bubble approached? Absolutely. But so what? Bubbles exist in every tournament. Who cares if there's one or two?

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfect huh I'll have to disagree there.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger DuggleBogey said...

No shit...

You said it was perfect and I disagree along with everyone else, but I'm "bellyaching."

You are obsessed with the people that "folded to the points" as if that was where the problem in the tournaments were. If people want to play stupid poker for meaningless points, who cares?

Who gives a flip about the freeroll? You could get into the freeroll by playing 20 tournaments.

If I am going to play in a poker series, I'm only going to play if I can be competitive for the prizes, not try to get into some silly freeroll. And UNLESS YOU WERE WILLING TO COMMIT TO 35 or more tournaments, you had almost NO CHANCE to compete.

I even proposed a solution to the problem, and I don't appreciate getting blown off by you.

At 7:11 AM, Blogger Wolverine Fan said...

As a favor to me can you try to play the Brittbloggerment tourney on PokerStars at 4PM Sunday? They are doing a country vs. country competition and I would love for USA to take it down. Password is donkament and it is in private tourney tab as Brittbloggerment 17. Time is inconvenient for USA players but it is a fun tourney.

Hope to see you there.

At 8:22 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

Duggles, don't get too riled up. I understand your proposed solution. I may have misunderstood your argument when you first wrote it. As I see it, if your concern was that you had to play 31 events to win a prize then I disagree with that complaint. Very early on, you decided not to pursue the prize by pulling out of the series of tournaments. Some people decided to duke it out and were able to play many of the events. The players at the top deserve to be there because they played so often and had such great results. You may not like the commitment necessary to win the prizes, but that is a personal choice.

Wolverine, I would love to, but I have no dough on Stars. Maybe I can work out a xfer with someone for FT dollars before then.

At 2:35 PM, Blogger bayne_s said...

I stand by my point:

1) those who won money but did not get many points, (not in this one I got many points)
and (2) those who didn't win significant money but got many points (this would soley depend on definition of significant but don't think I'm in this group), and (3) those who did not win points or money but played 1/2 of the events to get into the freeroll.

Will grant was being a braggard :-)
I thought lawyers and engineers had similar drive for precision?

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Precision, yes, but in my job. This is a freakin' blog, Bayne. Besides, my point still rings true. I didn't say that they were the only groups. I just said that those were the primary groups to look at when addressing the points vs. profit idea. I still touched on the Winners, which you are a part of. I'm not really busting your chops on bragging either. That's the way of bloggers.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger NewinNov said...

Nicely summerized. You are right in begining your assessment with what the overall goal of the BBT was in the first place. Could the structure be tweaked, absolutely. Was the structure a decent structure and achieve the outcome of increased participation, absolutely. I love reading the various arguments and sensing the passion that comes with some of the comments. It just makes for a better community when critical commentary can be offered.


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