WSOP Fantasy History

So as many of you know I’ve been running a $25,000 buy in WSOP Fantasy draft every year since 2011. The first WSOP fantasy draft actually occurred in 2010 at Howard Lederer’s house and it was the only time I’ve ever cashed, coming in 3rd place. For obvious reasons, in 2011 Howard wasn’t “available” to host the draft so I decided to take over what I thought was a really great idea to help create buzz around the WSOP.

The Aria Hotel and Casino has been gracious enough to host the event each year and they will again in 2017. PokerCentral will be on hand to stream the event live so fans of the game can sweat along with the draft. Now, we don’t do the boring, standard, snake draft. It’s an auction draft. I’ve been doing auction style drafts since 1996 contrary to what Rich Ryan was spouting last year about me not having “experience” with this type of draft. Pfft!!!! Just 20 years worth buddy, no big deal.

The way an auction draft works looks like this: each team has a $200 budget to spend on a total of 8 players. A player is nominated to be chosen and the highest bidder gets him. So for example, let’s say the highest bidder on Phil Ivey spends $105 of his budget. That means he only has $95 left to spend and has to fill 7 more spots! We keep throwing out players until each team has a complete roster of 8.

There are obviously various strategies you could employ in a draft like this, depending on whatever inside info you may have. If you have some real sleepers you think you can get cheap, you could spend big bucks on a guy like Jason Mercier or Paul Volpe. Or you can take the steady Eddy strategy and look to build a more balanced team void of the top seeded superstars.

The point system we use is final table heavy. You get a lot of points for final tables and also events with higher buyins are more heavily weighted.  We do have a field size bonus as well, so deep runs in those monster sized NLH events can reward you with big points. Mainly though, the best approach is to fill your team with talented mixed game players who play in the big buy in events like the $50,000 Poker Players Championship.

One of the cooler things that have come out of this draft is the work put in by David Baker to create a $500 pool using the point totals per player in our draft. You can enter as many teams as you like and choose whoever you want. It works much like daily fantasy sports would, where you get a $200 budget and just fill 8 spots however you choose to based on the values associated with the player drafted in the $25k Fantasy.

David puts in a lot of work to make this happen and I think it goes under the “good for poker” category. To make the $25k happen, I also put in a lot of work and money out of my own pocket. We charge no rake and I personally cover all the expenses associated with running it. I don’t mind, because I love it so much and really think its important for poker. I really do. At the tables, the WSOP Fantasy draft is a hot topic of conversation and gives people a really fun sweat for the duration. In addition to what I spend on overhead to make this happen, it’s cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars in side bets! It’s common for people after the draft to want to make side bets on their team versus yours. Regardless of how good I think their team is, I just auto accept all bets. Yes, I realize that’s not a good strategy!

Typically we get between 10-14 teams and I think that’s a really good number:

2011- 15 teams Team Jason Somerville/Mercier winners

2012- 11 teams Team Jason Somerville/Mercier winners

2013- 14 teams Team Matt Waxman winners

2014- 12 teams Team Gypsy winners

2015- 11 teams Team Brian Hastings winners

2016- 11 teams Team Danny Alaei winners

(For full stats and info visit


Many people wonder if people always draft themselves and I would say definitely not. I’ve only had myself on my team one year. I figure, if I have a great WSOP I won’t care about the fantasy as much. I really enjoy the rooting aspect. It created a bit of camaraderie among players and I know that when someone drafts me I always want to give it my all to not disappoint them!

I won’t be able to attend the draft personally this year, but I will be right next door playing the final table of the Super High Roller Bowl. I have a buddy drafting for me who I trust. This year the draft takes place May 30th 8pm the day before a fun first event, the $10k Tag Team NLH event.

In recent years Aria also runs one day high buy in NLH tournaments that have cost us a few entries. Not much I can do about that, because we need to do the draft right before WSOP event #1 starts. I’m hopeful that we have a great turnout this year, and if any of you want a team, or want to put together a group that takes pieces for an entry, reach out to me on Twitter @realkidpoker and also add @dnassistant and @twoacesgolf to ensure I get the message.

Also, I have a team dedicated to creating daily VLOGS on my YouTube Channel

I think you are going to really enjoy the daily VLOGS both from the perspective of quality and the behind the scenes look at what it’s like to grind the WSOP everyday for 6 weeks. There will be ups and downs, but I can’t tell you how excited I am to get started. Here is a teaser: WSOPVLOG2017