Daniel Negreanu would likely be the first to admit that nobody is going to look at him and mistake him for an Olympian. That does not mean, though, that he has given up on the Olympic dream. On the message forum of his website, FullContactPoker.com, Negreanu presented his idea for how to make poker an Olympic event.
His idea starts with six teams comprised of six poker players each (we suppose the number of teams could be expanded, but six keeps it manageable initially). The buy-in for each team is $300,000 (amateurism be damned!). Negreanu included a sample of what the teams could look like:
USA: Smith, Mercier, Selbst, Seidel, Raghavan, Volpe, Kenney
Canada: Negreanu, McDonald, Mizzi, Duhamel, Watson
Germany: Shemion, Rettenmaier, Gruissem, [it appears he meant to include more players here, but forgot]
UK: Chidwick, Vamplew, Lewis, Silver, Ziyard, Kamel
Russia: Bilokur, Puchkov, Gulyy, Lahkov, Kurganov, Vitkind
France: Hairabedian, Grospellier, Pecheux, Ktorza, Lacey, Pollack
The competition would start with a “preliminary stage” in which each player would play in a six-handed single-table tournament. Two of these tournaments, which Negreanu calls “heats,” would be held in each of three days, one starting at noon and one starting at 8:00pm. The heats would have the following blind structure:
40 minute levels, 100,000 chip starting stacks
The winner of each heat would receive $60,000, with prize money reduced by $10,000 for each descending place. The winner will also earn 60 big blinds for his team for the finals. Second place will receive 50 big blinds, on down to 10 big blinds for sixth place in the heat.
At the end of the six heats, the six teams will square off in another single-table tournament starting with however many big blinds they earned in the preliminary heats. Negreanu did the math: the average starting stack would be 210 big blinds (210,000 chips), with the max being 360 big blinds and the minimum being 60.
In the final, each member of a team must play at least one level during the first six levels. After level six, the only rule is that no player can participate in back-to-back levels. So, while players must switch every level, two players on one team could alternate if the team so chooses.
Here is what Negreanu proposed for the final table structure:
Levels 1-3 40 minutes, 60 minutes for all subsequent levels
The gold medal-winning team would receive $250,000, silver would get $165,000, and bronze would receive $125,000.