Does the 2011 Fallsview Poker Classic or the 2011 British Columbia Poker Championship deserve the title of Canada’s Number one tournament series? Both knocked it out of the park in terms of combined prize-pools and hands down, both draw the largest fields on the Canadian Poker circuit. Of course there are many other great events across Canada and we can compare a few of those next, but who do you think reigns supreme of the “Big 2”?
We have a few opinions based on player feedback we heard, or read on the web; we’ll list some of the most common and why we think it is so, then let you be the judge. Every year we like to make a top ten list and this year we hope our readers can help us decide.
The Money and the Numbers
The 2011 British Columbia Poker Championships just wrapped up, with the addition of a new “$5,000 High-Roller” event added to this years schedule.
Prize-pools for all 4 events totaled roughly $2,484,682 and would just barely break $2,500,000 if bounty pools were reported and added to the figure.
This puts the 2011 BCPC about $100,000 ahead of Fallsview Poker Classic’s $2,484,682 total this past January, though one extra event is held in Vancouver. With the $550 bounty removed, the 2011 FPC comes out ahead, despite the added $500 for the BCPC $3,000 buy-in, as compared to the $2,500 at Niagara.
To put it a different way, if you divide the overall prize-pools from each by the number of events held, the BCPC’s come it a roughly $621,700 per event, with Niagara coming in at about $803,353.
Many people would like to see a smaller buy-in event like the $550 bounty at River Rock Casino Resort added to the FallsviewPoker Classic schedule, but Vancouver looks to have an edge there; in our opinion the amount of available licensed and trained tournament dealers in Vancouver would trump the more out of the way area, leading to unwanted overtime hours for labour if the schedule were stretched. We might be wrong on that, but so far, now on it’s third run, the schedule hasn’t added a smaller event. Given that the $1,000 quickly sells out, it doesn’t seem likely that whether not or the event would do well is the issue. The BCPC’s definitely take the lead in being accessible to the more recreational players, for this reason and as a result brought an extra $232,633 to the table, (plus we guess at about another $26,400-$30,000 in bounties).
Chips and Amount of Play
Structure and amount of play seem to the next biggest thing discussed, with some claiming the BCPC’s hands down offer more play; looking at the $1,100 and $1,000 from each, they don’t appear too far apart in the big picture.
Players in the Vancouver receive 10,000 starting chips as compared to the 5,000 of Niagara, but the BCPC blinds levels are 40 minutes as compared to FPC’s 45 minute levels. Both events play to completion in 2 days, though less player complaints seem to be heard about the actual blind increments from the tournaments at BCPC.
As for the numbers, this years BCPC $1000+$100 brought in more than 630 runners with a prize-pool of $628,187 as compared to the FPC $930+$70 which capped at 600 players and $541,260 up for grabs. Even with the extra $70 to the pot adjusted, BC was bigger.
Once you get away from the 1k however, the BCPC’s are definitely more generous with chips and time; both the $3,000 and $5,000 start players with 5,000 more chips than at Fallsview; with 10k vs 15k and 15k vs 20k stacks. Blind levels are also one hour long in Vancouver for the larger events, while Niagara sticks with 45 minutes across the board. It doesn’t seem to effect attendance negatively however, BC got between 25-30 more players than Vancouver in both the 1k and 3k events; roughly a 5% better turn-out per field. On the flip side Fallsview had more than double for it’s $5,000 showing tournament structure to be clearly one of the smaller considerations in the face of availability and “action”.
Which brings us to the rake; Fallsview is definitely taking less. Averaging between 4.2% on the $5,000 to 7.6% on the $1,000, we also couldn’t find any fine print about addition “staff gratuity” taken from the prize-pool. River Rock on the other hand averaged 10% registration fees on the smaller 2 events, goes over 11% on the $3,000, which is almost double the 6.5% of Fallsview’s $1,000. With that said, double the play is offered in the BCPC $3,000 at 4 days compared to 2 for the $2,500 at FPC.
Add to that another 2% removed from the prize-pool for staff gratuities, and it’s easy to see how more play may be offered at the BCPC, but it comes at a cost to the player. If Fallsview takes even 3% for the same, (and we are just throwing a number out there), while the structures might leave room for improvement for some, they still are taking far less from the players. At the end of the day, the $3000 at the British Columbia Poker Championships had Canada’s largest single tournament prize pool of 2011; swelling to $1,254,205, while the Fallsview Poker Classic $2,500 was a few hundred thousand behind at $1,012,098.
The lowest rake of the BCPC series is 8.7%, more than double than that of the 2 Day FPC $5,000, though in Vancouver it is a 3 Day $5,000. A notable number of the high profile players attending this years BCPC High Roller were commenting on Twitter that given the field size, this event could have been cut down in length and were not happy with how it was handled; despite players trying to voice their opinions, play was ended two levels sooner on Day 1 than originally scheduled and they were forced to take a lengthy dinner break prior to wrapping up for the night. Then again, players were upset that it stretched to a Day 3, meaning half of the field would need to return without making the money, as only ten spots paid of the remaining 18. This may correct itself in time, if and when the “High Roller” fields grow at BCPC, but with 82 players as compared to 184 at FPC, it seems a two day format might be the right recipe for our poker landscape. Vancouver’s $5,000 NLH rang in at $369,657, while Ontario built the pot to $856,700.
Location and Travel
Both events are held at tourist destinations, along with being held over cooler periods of the year. One would assume Vancouver in November to be preferable over Southern Ontario in February, but that’s really dependent on the person. Vancouver would clearly offer more options for accommodations, transit, flights and nightlife, but Niagara is sure to also have perks of it’s own. Looking only at just length of stay and schedule, players might be getting more bang for their buck at Fallsview.
If you start playing at that Super-Satellites of the BCPC and stay until the end of the High Roller, your looking at an 18 day stay. Even if you just buy right into the tournaments, it’s still going to be 15 days of accommodations, meals and any entertainment, meaning you’d better cash big in something just to recoup some of these costs. Fallsview however, takings a much faster line, fitting everything into 6 days; using math to illustrate the point again, about $139,000 a day on average was up for grabs in Vancouver, while Niagara can boast just over $401,000 in prize money per day of event. For the well bankrolled and circuit traveling grinders, time is money and it’s can be all about making bank quick or moving on. For those looking for some relaxing poker respite; Vancouver might be the better destination.
Satellites and Cash games
Pick either, single table or super satellites shouldn’t be a problem. This year’s FPC took a ton of player heat when some would be entrepreneurs saw the opportunity in “supply and demand”; deciding to buy up a ton of super satellite seats and sell them at a premium just down the hall. It ticked off quite a few who had to pay up or shut up; though we are sure that management has been aware of the problem and concerns. Whether players are protected from scalping in 2012 remains to be seen, hopefully a policy is put in place rather than turning a blind eye and accepting any money as good money.
Getting back on track, both venues run single table satellites months in advance, helping to get those fields pumped and prize pools swelling. Super Satellites do very well at the BCPC’s, with a several running just prior that don’t overlap tournament days. The Fallsview Poker Classic has changed this for 2012; if you are playing a Day 2 you won’t likely make that Super, though many will argue it’s not such a bad problem to have as a big day is very near. The BCPC’s also have a bit of an edge when it comes to online Satellites, with provincial regulated PlayNow.com putting quite a few players into chairs through their qualifiers.
Cash games of all limits are spread at both, though Ontario seems to play much more Fixed Limit Poker at the larger stakes than Vancouver’s strong No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha scene. Reports claim that both can very slow to seat players and wait lists for tables long during busy tournament series; though it’s only fair to take the availability of Dealers with such large fields. Which has the bigger and bad’er action will again depend on what you are looking for. There is no doubt both regions have an abundance of very well rolled and competent players looking to mix it up.
That’s all we got, now let’s hear from you; Please leave your vote and opinions here in the comments, on our Facebook posts or in our forum, we want know your pick!