As requested by Marshall, here's the post-morten thread about this year's HU tourney. I made some changes to this year's format and I'll give some background on the rationale since I'm sure it will come up.
* Deeper stacks/more blind levels - We started with T5000 instead of T4000 this year and more levels were added before capping. I'm trying to increase the skill factor and made a slower schedule to try to achieve that.
* 100/200 > 200/400 jump - This came up more than once and it seems like inserting a 150/300 level in between would smooth out the transition.
* Wild card spot - This was new this year. The idea was to offer a spot in the bracket round based on a hybrid of skill and chance. The better that someone did in the preliminaries, the higher chance they will get into the bracket round if they did not qualify. However, everyone still had a chance to get in regardless of their performance. This is intended to provide incentive for everyone to do as best as they can at all times so that players don't tank it in their last couple of games. Previously I tried to achieve this by offering game money but I think a lottery approach is preferable because the game money depleted the bracket prize pool and it offers a shot at something potentially more valuable than a few bucks in game money.
* Time limit - This didn't really come into play at all. It was put in this year in order to address last year's issue of some games taking much longer than others and pushing back the entire schedule. So in order to make sure that the bracket round started at a reasonable time I put in a 20 minute cap.
* Six person bracket round - Also new this year. I assumed we would get somewhere around 12-14 players for the tourney and felt that sending eight players through would be too many and four would be too small so I settled on six which was actually top five plus wild card. Having six players go through also provided byes to the #1 and #2 seeds which guaranteed them at least 3rd/4th place money as a reward for doing well in the prelims.
* Stopping the prelim games after the blinds cap - The idea here was to add a skill/strategy element. In a winner take all affair the short stack has nothing to lose by shoving with ATC as the blinds near the end of the schedule. Crediting a player based on chip count at the end of the schedule was intended to prevent kamikaze play by short stacks since they would be jeopardizing getting at least partial credit for the game. The secondary benefit of this was to create a tie breaking criteria since people would likely end up with an odd chip count along the way.
* Blind schedule escalation - Bumping up the blinds each orbit instead of by time has been a staple of the HU format. It is designed to allow for many more games than timed blinds would while also allowing games to happen at start independently of each other instead of using a mutual clock for everyone. I feel that having everyone go through eight games of low/middle/high blind escalation in the prelims is a better indicator of HU performance than a standard single elimination bracket format where someone could get knocked out in a cooler.
* Diversity exception - Any player who could not start at the beginning of the tourney was given a modified schedule of playing only six players instead of all eight. The two player he would have played ended up playing each other instead so that everyone else still played eight games in the prelims. This was also why the format was changed to average scores instead of point totals so that six game and eight game scores could be compared on an equal footing. However, the high score of the six game schedule was dropped and the remaining five scores were added together in order to not allow someone playing fewer games to benefit from not being in attendance for the while event. Dropping the high score dings the player but is nowhere nearly as severe as forcing them to take losses for two games. Having the two opponents play each other prevents them from benefiting from a forfeit and throwing their numbers off too much.
* Payouts - I bumped spread the 1st/2nd place money out a little more this year from 40/30 to 45/25. As it turns out they last two players chopped it up so it didn't matter but I made the payouts a little steeper this year to put a little more on the line. Generally though I favor flatter payouts and perhaps the chop is indicative that the difference between 1st and 2nd was too great.
* Antes - In order to continue adding pressure to the blinds in the bracket portion of the tourney I added in antes after the blinds capped. The antes started off small but they would eventually force an end to the game since they would ultimately end up equaling the BB. I felt that adding in antes would be a softer hammer than having the blinds continue to escalate. If people don't like the blinds capping in the prelims then maybe adding antes would address that.
I think that's all of the news for this year. If anyone has opinions on any of the aspects of the format then chime in and I'll incorporate feedback into the next HU championship.