OK, let's get this out of the way right up front. What the hell is duplicate poker?
If you know anything about duplicate bridge, just skip this paragraph. If not, here is how it works. The cards are set-up so that each table and each seat at each table gets exactly the same cards. Duplicate hole cards, duplicate flop, turn and river. For now, this is a hold'em game/experiment. The idea is to take the 'luck' out of poker and make it completely a game of 'skill.' You see you are not competing with everyone else in the tournament or the other players at your table but only with the players seated in the same seat that you are at the other tables. You are up against players playing the same cards in the same position with the same chipstack as you.
The first known public duplicate poker tournament was held last night at the Oklahoma State Championships at the Cherokee Casino in Tulsa. Scotty Nguyen was there, as well as Linda Johnson, Chip Reese and several more 'name' professionals. The field was limited to 100 players, so in essence you were competing against only nine other players seated in the same seat as you. However, as with any new variation of poker, there are some intricacies to the game that you will need to note.
First, you start every hand with the same number of tournament chips. Your chipstack only goes up or down during a hand but then is reset to the starting stack size to begin each new hand. You keep score with another measure called the "Victory Chips" or "Scoring Chips". After each hand the results of each seat is compared with the same seat at all the other tables, the player who has won the most chips (or lost the least) get awarded "Victory Chips" using a quite complicated system of comparing chips won and lost between all of the players in that seat. I think you can see the first problem arising here and that is that the process is time consuming being that you have to reset the chipstacks for each hand; plus you need to count and record the results before resetting for the next hand.
The obvious question is: Why not just play with the increasing and decreasing stacks just like any other poker tournament. Well the reason is that Duplicate Poker attempts to compare not how you do against the nine players at your table but rather how you stack up against other players playing the same cards you are dealt and against the same spread of cards dealt to the other players. As you might guess this works a lot better and a lot faster online.
You will recognize the other problem if you have ever been roped into playing a 3 Card Poker tournament or even some of the Blackjack tournaments. Near the end of the event, when you know you are nowhere to be found on the leader board, you do the only thing you can to win, which is to move all-in on every hand. So eventually either the good player wins or the suck-out comes from behind. But wait you say, you are ahead and you are getting the same cards as the other players you are competing against, how do they suck-out on you. Easy, you fold the 35o and they move all-in on their table and flop the winning straight against three other desperate all-in players and your suck-out opponent triples up.
Don't expect to see Duplicate Poker in your local casino anytime soon (or ever). The problem is someone has to set up all the decks for the duplicate event, which means someone has to know the cards that will be coming out; not a 'fair gaming' scenario likely to impress too many state gaming commissions.
Want to experience duplicate poker for yourself. You can play for free and get the basics of the game at e-PokerUSA. Remember it is freeplay, so you can expect an all-in fest early on. Also before you attempt to play Duplicate Poker for any real cash, you had better understand the several different ways of dividing a pot among the winning, almost winning, sorta winning and even just slightly losing players. Get out your pocket calculator, it ain't simple.
I don't expect Duplicate Poker to catch on anytime soon but a bunch of my poker buddies did play several rounds of duplicate poker at our Thursday night game and it is interesting to see how the various playing styles can win a lot more and lose a whole lot more with the same cards as the 'tight is right' players. You might try this, buy a few cheap decks of cards, set up the decks before the first beer is opened and enjoy the duplicate action.