The logistics of setting up a $500,000 tournament are staggering, but the first ever Super High Roller Bowl went through its three days without a single major hitch.
Most importantly, the players were happy with how everything played out on the table, and most of the 43 who bought in went out of their way to compliment the unique structure utilized for the tournament. It was the brainchild of Cary Katz, who’s been tinkering with a format that’s been utilized in a series of $25,000 High Rollers that have been going on at the Aria for the last couple of years.
Brian Rast was the biggest beneficiary of the Super High Roller Bowl, taking home the $7.5 million first place prize. This was far from his first foray into a Katz-structured event, and he had high praise for both Katz and the structure in the moments after his victory Saturday night.
“He’s [hosted] some low-rake tournaments at the Aria that I’ve played a number of, and they’re great,” said Rast. “This structure that he uses is by far the best. It goes up slow at the end and gives a lot of play in the money and at the final table.”
“It’s something we’ve been working on a long time,” said Katz. “I actually got a lot of help from Doc Sands and Tom Marchese. The three of us spent a lot of time on it, built a nice spreadsheet on it.”
A large percentage of the field in the Super High Roller Bowl were professional players, but almost everyone involved favored action from the very start and a lot of play when millions upon millions of dollars were on the line. It’s a delicate balance to strike, but Katz, along with Sands and Marchese, managed to do so while making sure there was ample opportunity to pick spots.
“The goal was to maybe not start out as deep as usual, so it’s real poker on Level 1,” said Katz, “But at the same time try to keep all the levels from not increasing the overall pot size by more than 20 percent a level. That way you’re never all-of-a-sudden short just because the level increased – you have time to play it out and get some hands.”
One of the most unique aspects of the structure is that certain levels repeat blinds while simply doubling the antes – something that’s never really been done in a tournament before Katz decided to tinker around with different ideas to slow the pace down late. One of those ‘repeat’ levels happened as late as the 60,000/120,000 part of the structure that came during three-handed play.
“That was just kind of messing around on the spreadsheet and ultimately I figured out that it seemed to be the only way to really keep it from going up too fast. One level for example, where the blinds are 3,000/6,000, you have a 500 ante, then we do double the ante to 1,000. That’s actually one of the largest increases in the event even though we don’t increase the big blind, so it didn’t make sense to increase the blinds to 4,000 and 8,000.”
The Super High Roller Bowl ended with Rast defeating Scott Seiver heads-up, and Katz couldn’t imagine a much better finish to the inaugural running of this event.
“I think Brian Rast is an outstanding person and I’m very glad that he won,” said Rast. “I think Scott Seiver’s an outstanding player too, so to have those two giants play each other out, heads up, was more than we could have asked for. Those are just 2 of the best players in the game.”
Rast had nothing but kind words for Katz after his win, and a deep appreciation for all the work he’s put into High Roller events and making sure their as player-friendly as possible.
“Cary Katz, what he’s doing for poker is awesome,” said Rast just after his victory. “Poker has stagnated a little bit the last couple of years, in the sense that [a lot of] TV went away, the promotional dollars from the online sites went away and there wasn’t anything new. Cary just keeps building.”
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