World Cup of Poker: Let the finals begin

It's World Cup of Poker final day - let your hair down, unplug the phone, send the kids to the movies and sit back with EPTLive on screen. It comes but once a year and start to finish it will all be done with today.

The lights were down in the Imperial ballroom when I turned up for work this morning, the tables and chairs were neatly positioned in the darkness for the PCA's day 1B (you can now find official counts from day 1A on the chip count page) and a handful of staff milled around to witness the calm before the storm. Time for a bit of reflection then, an analogy for this event that produces drama and excitement in pure one off fashion.

So, being British I settled on an easy one - soccer's FA Cup Final - a showpiece act of theatre with a day-long prelude that conjures up spirits of fun and excitement normally reserved for kids at Christmas. Regardless of whether your team is playing it's easy to pick a side and get with the programme for a celebration of the game itself.

So with the start minutes away now is a good time to arm you with the necessary instructions on how this thing will play out, including a final table that boasts enough multiplication and long division to burn out the back of a few envelopes.

Here goes...

A series of five one-table tournaments will be played featuring one team member from each of the nine countries competing, starting with 3,000 chips. Each player will then be awarded a certain number of points depending on where they finish at their table.

1st - 15 points, 2nd - 12 points, 3rd - 10 points, 4th - 8 points, 5th - 6 points, 6th - 4 points.

By the end of these preliminary rounds the teams will be ordered in terms of how many points they have. Then the final table will begin at around 12noon local time, or thereabouts, when the stage will be plugged into life allowing you to watch all of the final table action yourself on EPTLive, which this year has the added attraction of showing all the whole cards as play goes on. No more guessing - the answers will be in front of you.

The starting stacks at the final will look like this...

1st - 50,000, 2nd - 45,000, 3rd - 41,000, 4th - 37,000, 5th - 34,000, 6th - 31,000, 7th - 29,000, 8th - 27,000, 9th - 25,000.

That seems straight forward enough, so let's throw another layer of complication in to keep things busy...

Each team will then be required to submit a team sheet, detailing the order in which each player will appear, with players changing at the end of each level. The starting stacks will then be divided between the team, with each player adding their share to whatever stack exists from the player before them. Are you still with me?

For example, if Team USA were top of the leader board going into the final they would divide their 50,000 chips five ways, making 10,000 for each player. If they were in 9th place they would do the same with 25,000, leaving 5,000 for each player. I'm getting the hang of this now.

If a team member loses an all-in hand during the first four levels (each 30 minutes long) the next player in the rotation steps in with their share of chips, completing that level and the next. Each team also has two substitutes that can be used only after the first five levels. Each team can also call a time out at the end of a hand by either the team captain or the player at the table for a 60 second team meeting to straighten out any creases. Other than that we play until one team wins.

A prizepool of $290,000, provided in full by PokerStars, will be divided among the players with first place worth $100,000 to the winning team. Second pays $70,000, third $50,000, fourth $30,000, fifth to seventh $10,000 and eighth and ninth $5,000.

Tylenol ready, it's as simple as that. The FA Cup might not have quite the same level of math but this is no less exciting. The finishing touches are being made to the stage and tournament area and the last of the team photos will be in the dark room in minutes. All the action is coming up...