When DTD announced their new ChipLeader concept a few months ago, I was hesitant, and not particularly bothered about playing it. The concept being that chips for the live final are accrued by playing online games over a period of several weeks in the build up to the final date. This is a brand new concept, and one that I'm sure will be tried again, albeit with some tweaks.
Having said I wasn't going to bother, I found €50 in my DTD account, and having busted all my regular tourneys one night, and having nothing left to play, had a go at the first ChipLeader qualifier, and won! With entries and rebuys, I picked up 18k for the final. The next day I played another, and won that too - now up to 32k. And a few days later I won another - up to 45k. Then the dregs of $50 ran out, and I took a conscious decision to not deposit and play any more - after all, 45k was likely to be an above average stack, and I was in pretty cheaply.
That's where the competition started to go pear shaped. Those with bigger bankrolls were able to attack the concept in style, and some spent hundreds, and probably thousands in some cases, playing every qualifier there was, and building mammoth stacks. At the start of the final, my 45k was a tiny stack compared to the 659k of the ChipLeader. I was ranked 120th of 220 starters in the final - so in essence, there were almost as many below me as there were above me - not too bad a place to be I guess..... Just needed a decent table draw.
On a 9 handed starting table, I had more chips than one single player - everyone else had me outstacked. So much for being halfway up the field! The biggest stack on our table was 220k, and after a few hands, it became clear how he had built that stack!
The very first hand of the day saw 220k matey limp UTG, and with three more limpers before it got to me on the button, I found QQ and went for the big overbet and raised to 1800 (blinds were 100/200). Not sure why I made it so big, but suspect I feared that everyone would call from them mahoosive stacks with any raggy hands, and that I might end up in a tough spot post flop, even with a premium hand and in position - probably a mistake with hindsight. Matey was the only caller. On a flop of 238sss, and me with the Qs, I figured I was in reasonable shape, but managed to ship him around 7k of my 45k starting stack when innocent red cards came on turn and river - he had called my 9x raise preflop with A6ss.
The day never really got any better than that, although after that I decided to just have fun and see where it might get me. I ended up busting in level 7 - I called a min raise on the button with QJs from a stack of 30x. Flop was JT8. The raiser made a small c-bet, and I made an equally small raise - he called. Turn was another 8 - he checked, and I made a big overshove, thinking I would make him fold all better Jacks, and possibly overpairs if I could sell the 8...... he insta-called with A9, and rivered a Q for a straight. Ho hum - that's why we play poker I guess.
All in all the concept works, but does need to be tweaked before the next one. A couple of changes I would like to see:
1) A cap on starting stack - not ideal, but keeps things sensible and is more inclusive to those that can't put in tremendous hours and money online. A capped starting stack could perhaps increase over time as the number of qualified players increases.
2) In the online qualifiers, half the starting stack should go as cash prizes to top three, and the other half to produce chips for the final - this will keep those with shorter bankrolls playing qualifiers, and not make the qualification stage just about who's got the deepest pockets.
I hope DTD run this event again, and I am sure I will give it another go. I do hope they tweak the format a little though.