Gaming meets gaming
I’m a middle-aged man and to my surprise, I am officially into Fortnite. I’ve been a gamer all my life – Overwatch is my primary jam at the moment – but though I’ve owned a retail copy of Fortnite since day one, I’ve never gotten into the Battle Royale craze. I finally did in the past week, though, as my son wanted to play with me. I’m not good at the game – I can’t build and my aim is shaky right now – but I’m getting better and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun to play duos with my boy. And it’s not just me that’s finally arrived at the Fortnite party. GGPoker recently launched its not-so-subtly-Fortnite-influenced (or PUBG or Apex Legends or COD Warzone) tournament format called Dan Bilzerian’s Battle Royale.
Yes, that Dan Bilzerian, whose ambassadorship with GGPoker has not been received well by much of the poker community, including writers on this very site. But let’s ignore him and just talk about this new video game-inspired tournament.
Better fold and win fast
Battle Royale is a 100-player bounty Sit-and-Go with three stages. In Stage 1, the goal is to outlast half the field, to survive into the top 50. The game for this stage is Rush & Cash, GGPoker’s version of “fast fold” poker. When a player folds, or when they finish the hand they are in, they are whisked to a new table. The stage ends when 50 players are left.
One catch, however, is that there is just a 15-minute time limit on Stage 1. If the time limit is reached with more than 50 players still in the tournament, only the top 50 stacks advance. Everyone outside the top 50 is eliminated; their bounties are added to the prize pool.
Ties are broken by number of bounties collected (called “kills” as a nod to video games) and then the number of hands played.
Stage 2 is a shootout with ten, 5-handed tables. Each table plays down to a single winner. Like in Stage 1, there is a 15-minute time limit. If multiple players remain at a table after 15 minutes, all players are forced all-in until one player survives.
Little time to think at the final table
Stage 3 is the final table, where the ring has shrunk the most, comprised of the ten surviving players from Stage 2. Everyone who has made it this far has made the money. Seating priority is given to the players who won their shootout the fastest.
Blinds increase every three minutes and each player is put on a five-minute chess clock. This means that every player has a total of five minutes during the final table to make their decisions. If a player exhausts their chess clock, they still have an opportunity to actually make moves, it’s just that they will have to make every decision, every bet, within five seconds.
This time crunch, from the 15-minute limits on the first two stages to the chess clock and fast blinds at the final table, is where most of the Fortnite comparisons come in. It’s not enough to just play good poker. In this tournament, you have to play poker quickly lest the time run out and you get lost in the storm.
Interestingly, the top two finishers in these Battle Royale tournaments win the same amount, or nearly the same amount, 21.13% and 21.12% of the prize pool, respectively. Tenth place receives 2.67%.
Buy-in levels are $0.25, $1, $3, and $10.