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Poker News | Online Poker | News

How to Start Your Own Private Tourney

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Poker blogger and writer Hoyazo was just looking for some action. That's what all poker players are looking for, right? Just a little action. For Hoyazo (Hoy for short), that led to Mondays at the Hoy, a private tournament for bloggers that he started back in early 2006 on PokerStars.

Blogger tournaments began when Wil Wheaton (yes, the guy on Star Trek, he also was a Team PokerStars Pro) started the WWdN on Tuesday nights in 2004 and Pauly of the Tao of Poker started Saturdays with Dr. Pauly. But they didn’t take off until after the blogger Mookie started - The Mookie on Wednesdays and Hoyazo started Mondays and the Hoy soon after.

Now there's a private tournament every night of the week among bloggers, even Saturday and Sunday. Private tournaments have exploded on sites such as Full Tilt, PokerStars and even Bodog, which hosts a blogger tournament every Tuesday.

There are so many tournaments, even the format has changed. They used to be all NLHE because that's the format 99.7 percent of all poker players know the most. But when Pauly recently started up Saturdays with Dr. Pauly again, he chose Pot-Limit Omaha as the game. There's also a Skillz series that rotates games such as Razz, Omaha and stud games, and Riverchasers on Thursdays also rotates between NLHE one week and another game the next.

No one has changed the tournaments as much as Hoy, however. He's changed the format several times, from 6-max to full ring to HORSE and has switched around the buy-ins many times. Currently the game is 6-max with a buy-in of $26 (or a token). He even switched sites in April 2007, moving to Full Tilt. That move shows how much these private tournaments have grown: He moved so his tournament could be packaged in the first Battle of the Blogger Tournaments series, which offered a leaderboard based on how players finished in several different tournaments that week. The third, going on right now, has World Series of Poker seats up for grabs.

"I may change it again in the future, who knows," Hoy said. "I believe in keeping it fresh."

Mookie hasn't changed his tournament much at all, although he did double the starting stack for a while before moving it back to 1,500 chips, and once a month the Mookie offers those deep stacks again, with a $2 KO bounty for each knockout.

For some variety, Mookie started the Dookie, a turbo tournament that starts an hour-a-half after the Mookie. He's switched the format for those every week, from Razz to Omaha, although lately he's stuck with Pot-Limit Omaha.

The blogger tournaments are supposed to be fun, and they are, for the most part (I never miss the Mookie myself). But they're also competitive, and lately, with the big prizes on the line for the BBT3, there's been some large fields and hard feelings.

And then there's the Donk-A-Rama.

The blogger Katitude started the Donk-A-Rama about a year ago, and it's a $1 rebuy on Full Tilt. Hence the name. And it plays exactly like a $1 rebuy.

"My rules of "All in first five hands" and "All in next five (or ten) hands because I'm bored" can add up," Katitude said.

Many, including Hoy, call Katitude's crazy tournament "poker therapy," and that's exactly the idea, even if the money spots are actually pretty nice because of all the rebuys.

She began the game as a one-night stand, a way to spend her birthday with her Internet friends and other bloggers. "But it was so much fun, the general consensus was to keep it going," Katitude said. "There were serious and semi-serious games throughout the week, so after the first game I picked the silliest format I could find. The whole point is to let off some steam and have some fun after a week of work and serious poker, and the dollar rebuy works very well for that purpose."

The best thing is the tournaments don't take more than a couple minutes to set up through e-mails to Full Tilt, and on PokerStars, if you get enough VPP points, you can download a version of the client that lets you set up a private tournament right there.

Full Tilt's already made the Donk-A-Rama a permanent game.

So other than a little blogging and pimping about the games, the setup takes hardlly any time at all. And they're free as well.

"These sites would never charge for the right to create a private tournament," Hoy said. "They are getting the same rake they always get, and these private events help market their sites and spread their popularity."

Katitude begs to differ, however. "My tournaments don't cost me anything," she said, "other than the enormous amount I've contributed to the pot."

How to get started: E-mail privatetournaments@fulltiltpoker.com and come up with a name, a buy-in, a game, a password, the date (four business days ahead), the time in eastern time zone and the number of players expected.

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