Late last night, Heath and I decided to play the $200 Teams Event at the Victorian Poker Championships, and consequently I made the boring drive up the highway to donk off.
I arrived early to take care of some things before Heath and I decided to grab a few drinks and some food at Lagerfield. We discussed work, poker and all of the above before being joined by Kirsty, Landon and a few of his mates.
Eventually we decided to make our way downstairs to tackle the gauntlet of the teams event, with me taking the first rotation. Unfortunately the 2,500 starting stack I had received was soon chopped into half as Heath took his seat and topped up another 2,500. I would lose us some chips, he would get us a double; that was the order for the night, which funnily enough was the opposite to the way it happened when we first played a teams event together back in 2008. Nothing went right for me, and inevitably it would be Heath that would bust us when he shoved over Aces with Ace-Jack - and although flopping a Jack - failed to improve to see us bust in about 60th place of the 214 starters.
However, I spent the majority of the night when not playing discussing the upcoming State of Origin, and how it should be fixed for 2011. Consequently, here are my suggestions for how the 2011 State of Origin at the Victorian Poker Championships should be conducted.
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State of Origin Committee
Over the past few years, there has always been an issue with the exact formation of each side. Justification for an inclusion or exclusion is always the biggest talking point, followed by the selection of the captain.
To make the State of Origin a premier feature event on the local poker calendar, something has to be done to ensure that the teams selected are not only fair, but also a true justification of the best in the state.
Consequently I believe a Committee should be formed that will pick the squad through mutual decision by sorting through live and online tournament results both in Australia and overseas.
The next point is exactly who should be on the Committee? Well firstly, the members that form the Committee must be unbiased and impartial to the event, and have no chance of being selected themselves. They must also have a sound knowledge of the game, and possess an even greater knowledge of the Australian pool of poker players. I don't believe that the Committee should be too large either as this will create even more difficulty when coming to a conclusion on final teams.
My vote for who should head up this Committee? Firstly - although I may be a little bias - I would cast a vote for myself. I have yet to meet anyone with a greater knowledge of players in the country, am also independent to the event, and am at nearly every tournament around the world that would influence the team selection; whether it be an Aussie Millions, APPT, ANZPT or WSOP.
My next vote would be for Jonno Pittock who has the influence in the event, as it is in his poker room where the event is run. Finally I believe that Tony Hachem should stay involved in the Committee by the pure fact that it is his creation, but by doing so, he would have to rule himself out of possible selection to remain fair.
Obviously the toughest part of the event, I believe I have come up with a simple solution that should please everyone.
First of all Captains will pretty much remain as they are from this year, as most of them are true figureheads in their states. However it is a question of how the seven other spots should be filled, that gets everyone scratching their heads. With a Committee in place, they organise a few hours where they can sit down and discuss the teams. With the State of Origin concept being pitting the best in the state against the best in other states, then that is simply what you do. Taking live results both at home and abroad, online rankings and past form from the period of the 2010 Victorian Poker Championships to before the 2011 Victorian Poker Championships, you should be able to pick the best team.
The Committee will firstly select the six players they believe are the best in the state over the past twelve months and then provide a further four alternates. This list is then handed to the Captain who must contact each of the six players to see if they are available. If not, the first alternate will take his/her place and so on until six available members have been chosen.
As for the final spot, well that will be the Captain's Exemption. If the captain believes that a player who missed out on the team should have actually made it, then they can be called up for that final eighth spot. They believe that they are a great player for the format of the event or were unfairly passed over, but either way, they have a chance to influence the team in a possibly winning way.
Although New South Wales have persisted with it, I believe that satellite winners shouldn't be allowed in the State of Origin. I have no major argument for it, apart from saying that the event should be the best of the best from each state, therefore meaning that a satellite winner - regardless of how well they ran in the satellite or in the State of Origin - wouldn't be in the best otherwise they would have already been selected. The only way this concept would work is if every team decided to have one satellite winner, but in all honesty, I don't think this would happen.
The Shootout format is a perfect way to run the State of Origin, but some tinkering needs to be done so that when the final table starts, it isn't already game, set, match for a particular side.
Keeping the Shootout format points system of:
1st - 60
2nd - 50
3rd - 40
4th - 30
5th - 20
6th - 10
7th - 0
8th - 0
Like normal, you play down until there is a winner as each team is allocated the appropriate points for where they finished on each table. Each set of 10 points earns your side 10,000 tournament chips, and when you return the following day for the final table, each state will sit down with the equivalent amount of tournament chips in relation to their accrued points (ie 240 points equates to 240,000 in chips) plus the day one starting stack of 20,000 (in case a team fails to accrue any points during the shootout). Consequently when the final table begins, everybody still has a realistic chance of winning the title.
Now for the next twist. The final table will begin with the Captain playing, but at four separate occasions they will be allowed to make four substitutions. Any team member can be subbed in, and team member can play multiple times, and the subs do not have to be used if the Captain wishes so.
Not only will this format make it a little more exciting, but will also mean that for both days of the State of Origin, there is not only a crowd smothering the rail, but also every team member in attendance as they all still have an equal chance of winning.
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In all honesty, none, one or all of these ideas that I've come up with could be utilised in the 2011 State of Origin, but only time will tell.
So many people have already contributed thoughts and ideas in relation to selection, format etc, and some are good, and some are bad. Heck, I would love to see a Stanley Cup-esque trophy with the winning team and their members engraved on it created so that the pride of crushing your opposition is more rewarding!
We will have to wait quite a while until we hear changes to the State of Origin, but hopefully those with the power to do so, take in what others have had to say on the issue that is obviously very important in our small and close-knit poker community.
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