Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Need PhD. to follow proposed changes to NHC Championship

Let's just say that an email from NTRA on Tuesday left me excited but confused all at once.

The NTRA erroneously congratulated me (and presumably all registered Tour players) on qualifying for the 2012 NHC Tour Championship ("NHC13") in Las Vegas, which I'll take (if they want to let me in after such horrific handicapping this season).  However, the note appeared intended for all Tour player feedback on some changes proposed as soon as January 2012's event, so I'm figuring the tournament organizers have discovered the erroneous email.

NJ Horseplayer lost yet again...
Predicting pace scenarios, studying past performances and managing contest bankroll and selections are certainly hard enough in preparing for handicapping contests, but the details of NTRA's plans for the Championship are even more vexing, in my opinion.

The current tournament structure is a two-day event, where 500 contest players who reached the Championship through local qualifiers gather in Vegas and are required to make mythical $2 win and place wagers on 15 races each day, with 8 mandatory races (i.e. all players make a selection) and 7 optional races. Mythical winnings are capped at 20-1 to win and 10-1 to place.

It appears, however, that the Championship organizers are seeking feedback on a plan to extend the Championship to a third day, where the Top 80 finishers from Days 1 and 2 would compete in a series of 4-race elimination rounds, in essence halving the field in a progressive format akin to the World Series of Poker, where players "win their table" and move to another table as the field size shrinks before determining a tournament champion.

Granted, I have not made it to the Championship in just two-plus years of trying, but I responded unfavorably to the survey.  As I commented in the survey, three straight days is way too taxing (not to mention coming off as the host casino looking to fill rooms another day).  Personally, I am spent even after an afternoon contest, what with the preparation, constant monitoring of contest bankrolls and leader boards and the decision making of which horses to select.  I could not imagine going back for a third day, and would be even more upset (though unlikely to happen) to have outpaced a 500-person field for two days, only to be eliminated on day three just for picking four races poorly.

In short, 30 races is more than enough of a sample to determine the NHC Tour champion in a particular season.  Adding a handful of races to give a WSOP feel to the event is a bit overzealous, if you ask me, and I am hoping that other NHC Tour members share my sentiments.  Otherwise, if I need to read an email a half-dozen times to figure out what the proposal spells out, then I want no part.  Handicapping tournaments are hard enough already.


  1. I too told 'em their idea is crap.
    I do like the concept of the elimination thing, but 3 days is just too damn long.

  2. The elimination thing would work well, perhaps, if they did it in the regular two-day contest format; i.e. top 20% advance to Day 2, with the remaining 400 players returning for a consolation bracket.

    It just seems like they're messing with a good thing already, though I suspect they're reacting to feedback from players far better than us who have actually been to the NHC before.