Fantasy poker has always been an interesting concept in theory. As in any sport, selecting a few players and following the action with a few bucks on the line makes the event more fun.
But in operation, poker isn’t always the easiest game to “fantasy-fy.” Instant stat updates aren’t easy and determining which players are actually playing an event can be difficult.
PokerGO and SuperDraft are trying to make the process easier with a new partnership kicking off with the US Poker Open (USPO). The series features a 12-event schedule running June 3-15.
I took a test drive of the new poker offering to see how DFS poker (DFP?) actually works. Would I coach this team to a winner or have to regroup? The site offered a $1,000 freeroll for several events and here’s how I fared in the first event of the series.
The lobby is fairly easy to navigate and players will find a “Poker” tab right at the top of the page among other sports. Seems a bit strange to see poker parked right between MMA and NASCAR options. Cards just doesn’t seem to have quite the adrenaline of those two.
The first USPO event on tap was a $10,000 No Limit Hold’em event with plenty of big names in the field. Clicking on poker quickly brings up the first USPO fantasy contest for the event. Click on that and the question becomes: who to pick?
Entrants are asked to pick five players: a champion and five “flex” options. A quick scroll down and users will find names like Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Ali Imsirovic, and David Peters instead Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.
At SuperDraft, instead of using a salary cap, point multipliers differ by player. Also, picking the champion correctly awards an extra 50%.
Determining which players to select for your team isn’t an easy choice. It’s not always a sure thing a player will even compete (especially post-pandemic).
The site seems to have solved this by allowing a few hours into the tournament to make roster changes. But a user has to follow along to determine if a player is at the table or chilling back at the pool instead.
Setting a lineup
Not much scientific thought or reasoning went into selecting my squad. For the champion, I chose Imsirovic at 1.5x. He seems to be winning everything over the last few years and has five high roller wins already this year.
I added a few more names that are also regulars in these high roller events including Sean Winter (1x) and Stephen Chidwick (1.15x). Winter is consistent in PokerGO events, with several final tables and a win this year.
Chidwick won the inaugural USPO event and seems like a nice choice coming back from the pandemic. He’s sixth on the all-time live tournament money winning list, but his last live score was pre-pandemic.
Still, Chidwick was another nice option and I felt good with these three selections.
Sean Perry seemed like a nice choice with a 1.65x multiplier. He’s been hot and sits second behind Imsirovic in the PokerGO Tour standings. He has two wins and two runner-ups in PokerGO High Rollers since April.
Finally, I added Cary Katz at 1.25x. The PokerGO proprietor and businessman seems to have a knack for running deep in these big buy-in events. He has a win and two third-place finishes in these events since January. Bam, that roster seemed ready to crush the tables in Las Vegas.
Reviewing the roster and following along
Team Crap Shoot was set. How would this squad of poker dynamos perform? That’s all part of the fantasy football, I mean fantasy poker fun.
That lineup seemed solid. I spent a whole 10 minutes figuring out who to pick, and more importantly, who would actually be playing. Were there some better players out there? Probably.
But these events feature a ton of great players. Narrowing them down seems a bit like a crap shoot. A mix of top names with even-money multipliers and those who might pay a bit more here and there seemed like a nice approach.
All I had to do now was sit back, watch my guys perform as expected, and then collect my winnings. Right? As most fantasy sports players know, it doesn’t always work that way.
After jumping in the SuperDraft poker action, it was kind of interesting watching the action unfold. The site makes use of PokerGO live reporting and chip counts to update stats throughout the day.
This isn’t quite like checking out your team on NFL Sunday. Live reporting obviously isn’t updating every player’s chip stack in the field constantly. Updates on the app are a bit intermittent, but players can get some of the feel of near-live team updates.
As the tournament played out, I did find myself checking in on the poker app and reading the live reporting. It was fun seeing how my poker warriors fared.
Some early success
Those who enjoy following tournament updates now have an added element of some skin in the game. Things looked nice early on for my team.
Imsirovic and Chidwick picked up some pots to move way up in the standings. Yes. Katz snagged two pairs for a big win. Nice. Perry was making some moves and vaulted up the leaderboard. Let’s roll.
Four of my five players were earning some points. Things seemed to be looking like I’d have a nice late-day sweat. I envisioned my super-roster going deep late into the night.
As play advanced in the evening, my champion selection, Imsirovic, continued to pick up steam. After a few eliminations, he surged to the top. I’d probably have a few guys in the money and moving on to Day 2’s final table.
Team in trouble
And then things began to unravel. Winter hit the rail early, but at least re-entered. Perry hit the exit door a bit later. My stable of thoroughbreds began coming up lame.
Imsirovic saw a massive downswing as well and Chidwick seemed the only one keeping hope alive. Some intrasquad conflict hurt team morale. Winter eliminated Imsirovic and the roster continued shrinking.
Soon Chidwick was all that remained of Team Crap Shoot. He now sits sixth out of the final seven players with Dan Shak leading Friday’s final table. A Chidwick win might secure a buck or two, but that seems unlikely.
Two SuperDraft players named “tx420tx” and “thebiginch” sit atop the standings with 1,032.5 intrasquad, miles above my 175. Both had Shak and Barry Hutter (seventh in chips) playing at the final table and stand to win a nice (and free) $85.
Regrouping and shifting strategies
As they say in poker, it’s on to the next one. The freeroll was fun and bringing the DFS concept to the World Series of Poker this fall would also be fun for players in the field and at home.
Several freerolls remain in the USPO and my strategy changes for the next No Limit Hold’em event. No more recent finishes, no more consistency considerations, no more looking at standings.
This time it’s all about personality. Chatty? Loud? Quick with a joke? Maybe even a little abrasive?
Seeing these traits in high rollers isn’t always easy, but I found a few not afraid of a little table talk. This is the new Team Personality roster:
- Daniel Negreanu
- Frank Stepuchin
- Sean Perry
- Ray Qartomy
- Jonathan Little
I can already see those winnings hitting my account. Let’s go.
The US Poker Open continues Friday with a $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha event. Another $1,000 fantasy freeroll is also available.