The GPI Twitter Debate: When Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu were at loggerheads

Phil Hellmuth who started the GPI Debate on Twitter is seen in a comic fist fight with GPI CEO Alexandre Dreyfus
Phil Hellmuth who started the GPI Debate on Twitter is seen in a comic fist fight with GPI CEO Alexandre Dreyfus

It was an ensuing debate on twitter on the logics behind the Global Poker Index(GPI) Rankings on whether high roller events should be included in the rankings or no. While Phil Hellmuth came out in strong criticism of the GPI’s tournament ranking system, Daniel Negreanu, a High roller specialist defended the system. Hellmuth called for the awards to be more ‘egalitarian’ while Negreanu suggested that all poker leader board rankings were same and included the high roller events. 

If you missed out on the debate, here are some of the snippets. 

The debate ensued for a long time and many poker pros including Dan Shak, Doyle Brunson and Gavin Smith tweeted their ‘two cents’ about it. Several others from the poker media fraternity like GPI CEO Alexander Dreyfus, Rich Ryan and David Tuchman also contributed. So what was the debate all about it and what really is the GPI rankings method which Hellmuth got so touchy about in the first place.

How do the GPI rankings work?

As elaborated by GPI itself- Players are ranked weekly based on their performance by finishing in cash positions in qualifying tournaments occurring over the previous 36 month period. A cash position is any position where the player receives a portion of the total prize for their performance in an event (all references to buy-in are inclusive of entry fees).  Qualifying tournaments are events with 21 or more players and a buy-in of $1 USD (or other currency equivalent) or higher that are open to the public, and are not specialty or selected audience events.

Each player’s individual GPI score is an aggregate of scores in events over the previous 36 month period, measured from the day the GPI is calculated. The score for a given event is derived from a combination of their finishing place percentage, buy-in and aging factor. Finishing percentage refers to the percentage of the starting field a player bests in his or her finish. Buy-in refers to the relative amount of the event buy-in to the baseline buy-in of $1000 USD (events with buy-in below $1000 are still compared relative to a baseline of $1000). Aging factor refers to the weighting of results by their recency, where more recent results are weighted more heavily than past results. The GPI limits results to five (5) results per half-year time period for the most recent year and a half and four (4) results per half-year period for the year and a half prior. The GPI aggregates only the top five scores per each half-year period in the most recent year and a half and the top four scores for the year and a half prior for a maximum total of 27 scores per 36 month aggregation period.

The Argument

Now Phil Hellmuth argued that $50,000 or more including High Roller and Super High Roller Events should not be included in the GPI. He believed that these events invited entries from players who perhaps were better at money management skills and those who could afford such high buy-ins. He also tweeted that it didn’t have more than 99% of all of the known poker players since most couldn’t afford it.

To this, Daniel Negreanu tweeted back that the money management or bankroll logic doesn’t hold true since what a poker player can afford varies. While one could afford $100,000 another known and skilled poker player might not be able to afford even the standard $10,000 buyin events. He argued that how could anyone benchmark what is the buy-in level that has to be considered. Further, he also agreed that the system was a bit flawed but insisted that rather than arguing they needed suggestions for improvement. 

While this debate went on, finally the GPI CEO had to tweet in to rest all confusion and state that GPI takes in a buy-in cap which they change each year. He told the twitterati at large that the GPI cap for 2014 is $20,000 which means that the same weightage is given to a $20,000 buy-in event as to a $100,000 Super High Roller Event. Later, Alex Dreyfus also blogged about this issue and took a swipe at Hellmuth. 

Having said that in clear terms, the GPI debate was put to rest and several poker players argued that without knowing facts, the whole debate enraged. The GPI made the picture clear at the end of the day and peace proclaimed, for now!