Jeff Haney sees rise of duplicate poker, a game in which luck loses out to brains

9 April 2008
By Jeff Haney, Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The timing was coincidental, but shortly after a reader from Henderson proposed a tournament based on duplicate poker in this column recently, an online poker site announced the inaugural Duplicate Poker World Championship with the finals set for this fall.

The site,, is legal in most parts of the United States because the game is considered skill-based. (Not that regular poker isn't, but that's another story for another day.)

Most U.S. citizens are eligible to compete in the championship's qualifying period, which runs through Sept. 14.

The first round of online regional tournaments follows, and from there the event becomes a mix of Internet and live play, according to Las Vegas poker insider Nolan Dalla, a point man for the series.

Each subsequent week, the top six players on the site's leader board qualify for the next round, in which the field is divided into six geographical regions representing parts of the United States and the world, according to Dalla.

Players within each region who advance will be placed on a team of seven players. They will be invited to a land-based venue to be announced, where the semifinals and championship rounds will take place.

The prize pool of $120,000 is provided by

Duplicate poker, a game based on the popular tournament card game duplicate bridge, aims to remove the element of luck from Texas hold 'em tournaments as much as possible.

Players in corresponding seats at various tables are dealt identical poker hands, and the hands play out. Winners and losers are determined by the amount of chips won or lost in comparison with other players who were dealt the same cards.

No-limit camp

Advanced no-limit Texas hold 'em theory will be the focus of the World Series of Poker Academy's instructional camp April 18 and 19 at Caesars Palace.

The camp kicks off the opening weekend of the World Series of Poker circuit tournament at Caesars, which runs from April 20 through May 1 and concludes with a $5,150-entry, three-day main event.

The camp, led by a team of accomplished poker pros headed by Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Paul Wasicka and Andy Bloch, will cover topics such as cash-game strategy, heads-up play and advanced mathematics of poker.

Two $10,000 seats in the World Series of Poker main event will be awarded in private tournaments at the camp, which costs $1,999 to attend. Previous camps sponsored by the academy have sold out. For information, visit

On the air

The first airing of the 2008 National Heads-Up Poker Championship on NBC (KVBC Channel 3) will be at noon Sunday.

The tournament, which concluded March 2 at Caesars Palace, will be shown on six consecutive Sundays, with a three-hour finale scheduled for May 18.

Four episodes, including Sunday's, run two hours, with the April 20 installment scheduled for one hour.

Sunday's episode will feature the following first-round matches from the 64-player field: Chris Ferguson vs. John Juanda; Mike Matusow vs. Joe Hachem; Patrik Antonius vs. Gabe Kaplan; Tom Dwan vs. Phil Hellmuth; Chris Moneymaker vs. Jerry Yang; Phil Ivey vs. Alisha Kunze; David Williams vs. Johnny Chan; and Don Cheadle vs. Gus Hansen.

Poker for a cause

More than 100 professional poker players and industry leaders are expected to participate in the second annual Jennifer Harman charity poker tournament April 18 at the Venetian.

Proceeds from the event, which includes a $330 no-limit hold 'em tournament as well as a silent auction, will benefit the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Last year's tournament raised more than $130,000 for the Nevada SPCA, according to Harman. The no-limit tournament begins at 3 p.m.

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