With the third running of the Party Poker Premier League, I had a chance to lament the fact that I live in the United States and will not get to watch this contest when it airs on television. I am also saddened that I have not been allowed to play at Party Poker for a couple years now, but that’s another story altogether.

From what I have read about the Party Poker Premier League, as well as what I have taken in from clips on YouTube, this thing seems fantastic. At first, I thought it was just another Poker Superstars Invitational, but it is obvious that it is far better.

For starters, the structure of the Party Poker Premier League is excellent: twelve players, six six-handed single-table tournaments for each player in the preliminary round, and then the finals. They make it a little bit more interesting by having the top four point earners in the preliminary rounds go straight to the final table, while the next four battle it out in a series of heads-up matches to see which two players will make the final six. Then, at the final table, each player starts with chips corresponding to how many points he or she won in the preliminary rounds, and they play poker until somebody wins.

In the meantime, the Poker Superstars Invitational has twenty-four players who compete in a similar preliminary round. Sixteen of them make the next round, where they play in four and three-handed Sit & Gos. The final eight again compete in four-handed Sit & Gos, while the semi-finals and finals are heads-up competitions. It is so convoluted it can make one’s head spin. The structure of the Party Poker Premier League, on the other hand, is simple. Plus, the preliminary contests mean something in the Premier League. Only the top four out of twelve are guaranteed to make the final table. And even though the fifth highest scoring player has the same chance to make the final table as the sixth, seventh, and eighth points earners, he still needs to try to earn as many points as possible so he is not in too big of a hole if he makes the final table. Similarly, if someone knows he is guaranteed at least eighth place, but can’t make it past fifth, he is still going to want to earn those points to be able to start with more chips at the final table. In Poker Superstars, it should be fairly easy to advance past the preliminary round, what with two-thirds of the field doing so, and while chip stacks do correspond to points in the next round, they don’t after that.

The finals are better in the Party Poker Premier League, too. To me, the idea that the champion has to once again battle five other players is much more appealing to me than needing to make it past one player in a heads-up match. Besides, the preliminary rounds are not heads-up, so why should the final round be?

When it comes to the poker play itself, one of the things that have always frustrated me about Poker Superstars is that the blinds escalate extremely fast. Inevitably, at least in the preliminary rounds, the match becomes a shove-fest very quickly. In the Party Poker Premiere League, blinds go up every twenty-one hands, which results in much more play than when the blinds go up based on time.

Finally, from what I have seen online, the production values of the Party Poker Premiere League are leaps and bounds above those of Poker Superstars. Watching Poker Superstars is almost like watching a cable access show (although, I must say, I do like the part where they show the heads-up contestants posing for the camera, playing with cards). And while I do feel that the announcers do a solid job on Poker Superstars, I like how the players who are not in the current match will often take turns behind the microphone. It is always interesting to hear how different professional players analyze each other’s games.

I highly encourage all of you who will actually have the opportunity to watch the Party Poker Premier League on television to do so. Record it, plan your day around it, do whatever you must to take it all in. And please send me a copy of the broadcast while you’re at it. Thanks.

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