Culture: Game: Poker
Duplicate Team Poker   (+5, -1)  [vote for, against]
Effective, skill-based team competitions

Poker is a great game, and skill is the major factor determining a player's success in the long run. However, in any single tournament, luck has a significant role.

Poker is also not well-suited to team play. If two players from the same team are playing on the same table, this puts the other players on the table at a disadvantage.

I propose a poker tournament for teams of four players, following a duplicate-bridge principle, so that the winning team wins purely based on its skill.


The teams (A, B, C and D) would be seated at four tables.

Table: 1 2 3 4

Seat 1: A C B D

Seat 2: B A D C

Seat 3: C D A B

Seat 4: D B C A

The cards dealt are the same for players at the same seat on each table for each hand. (What those hands are is determined either by pre-dealing, or by computer generation.) If the player at seat 2 is eliminated on table 1, the player at seat 3 continues to receive the same cards as the player at seat 3 on tables 2, 3 and 4.

In draw poker, the cards received are dependent on other players' actions, as in stud, so Texas Hold'em, Omaha, or Manila would probably be the best poker variations - since Texas Hold'em is the most popular format for major tournaments, this is not a problem.

Games could either be played till there is one winner on each table, or to a time limit, and with fixed-limit, pot-limit or no-limit betting structures.


1. Skill-based, team-based competitive poker.

2. If matches are played for league or tournament points rather than cash, it could allow the game to be played more widely, and as a purely skill-based game on the same footing as duplicate bridge, rather than a gambling game.

3. Players could be ranked based on opponents they face and the results they score in the games they play for their teams.

4. The shuffled seating arrangements mean that each team has position over each other team at least once.

Possible Disadvantages:

1. The the tension involved in betting large sums of money is a significant factor in poker psychology, and that would be missing if suggestion 2 is followed.

However, there would still be pressure involved from wanting to win the match or the league. (And not just for honour - prizes for winning major DTP Leagues could be substantial, just as winning golf tournaments is lucrative for golfers.)

2. It would be impossible to avoid collusion in online games (e.g. through instant messenger conversations).

This is true, but also true of bridge and indeed poker. Competitive DTP would be played offline, in local and national leagues.

Other Musings:

Teams might become known for their style of play - Bluff Boys, Team Fast'n'Loose, The Fold-All Gang - or might choose to have a mix of players with different styles in their team. (Further, as in chess matches, it could be organised so that the best players on each team would play on Table 1, the second-best on Table 2, etc.)

It would also be good if players do not know which seat they have until they enter the room. This would mean that the positions of players in other rooms could be displayed to all players without revealing too much information. Team tactics would then come into play - if your teammate is the chip leader on table 3, you might adopt a more conservative style and protect your stack rather than play aggressively.

DTP could also be played with ten full tables of ten players, but it was easier to figure out the seating for four players per table, and would be easier to get teams of four players rather than ten.
-- imaginality, Apr 12 2006

Duplicate Poker discussion
A discussion thread about individual duplicate poker from back in 2000... Elie's final point is right, but playing as teams as I suggest would solve that issue [imaginality, Apr 12 2006, last modified Apr 13 2006]

I've thought of this idea myself. For simplicity, I'd assume heads-up play (each team has two players), and the team which netted a positive chip balance would be the winner (the game overall is zero-sum, so except in case of a tie one team will be positive and the other negative).

Rather than have open stakes and fixed-limit betting (which would leave out the element of putting a short-stacked opponent on the ropes) or fixed table stakes (which could result in many matches ending in a tie when team A wins all the chips at one table and team B wins all the chips at the other) I'd have a compromise: players always play 25 hands with an initial 'buy-in' of e.g. 25 big blinds, but a player who is short stacked below 1/8 of his opponent's stack may 'buy in' up to that level; players must 'buy in' sufficiently to at least cover blinds.

Although players wouldn't be using real money to 'buy in', any extra chips they 'bought in' with and didn't have at the end of their game would simply count against their team's chip balance. Someone who recklessly kept buying in and going all-in would allow his opponent to rack up a huge chip balance. On the other hand, if a player could free-buy up to 1/8 of his opponent's stack, three double-ups would leave him nearly tied for chips on the table (though ending up with a positive chip balance would require that he take in enough extra chips to cover the buy-in).

If the blinds do not escalate, someone with a significant chip lead could guard the chip lead by simply refusing to bet anything except the blinds. On the other hand, if the person's "alter ego" from the opposing team at the other table managed to rack up an even bigger chip lead, such a strategy would ultimately lose.
-- supercat, Dec 09 2008

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