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How do the optionals and payouts work?

If you have never competed in an a "calcutta-style" fishing tournament, that's okay, it looks confusing until we break it down for people, and then you'll see how simple it is.

FIRST PLACE, $180,573 AND the 2016 championship trophies and Cabo Cigar Co. cigars, John Pettey silver tuna rings, and custom Champions shirts went to Team America, made up of David Macklis, Angelica Cota and Juan Collins all from Los Barriles led by Chucky Van Wormer, son of Baja pioneer Bobby Van Wormer and founder of Van Wormer Resorts in Los Barriles, BCS. PHOTO BY GARY GRAHAM

"I mean, how do you win?" is a common question. For those who are not familiar with jackpot tournaments with optional daily payouts, here's a quick primer, but remember, you do not have to enter any optionals, but we highly recommend your team does throw down some money beyond the basic $1,000 team entry fee.

Cash/Prize Payouts

The basic team entry fee (teams can consist of up to 4 anglers and 2 crewmen) is $1,000, with two days of six optional daily jackpots totaling $500, $1,000, $2,000 and $3,000, and $5,000 and $10,000. Plus there's the wahoo/dorado optional jackpot of $1,000. For a total of $23,500, and there are usually a dozen teams at that level, in every jackpot. Remember, these are optional jackpots. You can enter none, or one, or some of them, or all of them.

The payback to anglers

There is $500 payback on the $1,000 entry fee and there's an 80 percent payback on all daily jackpots. Nearly all of the remaining $500 per team goes to hats, bags, shirts, dinners and event rentals and staffing for the four days.

THE WAHOO/DORADO OPTIONAL worth $60,400 each day was hotly contested over two days. Team 111, The Lux team, on the Picante Pride, led by team captain Diego Ferrer of Luxembourg caught a first day 53.2-pound wahoo.

What exactly can you win? It all depends, of course, on the number of teams and how many have paid into the optional jackpots. This is how it breaks down: The team/captain that catches the biggest tuna over two days wins 85 percent of the total cash available in the overall pool among all teams. The math is simple at $500 payout per team. 100 teams, $50,000. And so on.

The team/captain that catches the second largest tuna wins 10 percent of the Overall Jackpot cash. Third biggest tuna over two days wins 5 percent.


Now we go to the optionals. It's where the bigger money is won. Each day is a new day to win. The biggest tuna caught wins in each pool. You compete only against those who joined you in the pot. Some teams get into only the $10,000, as it's a great gamble. The lower cost pots obviously have more competition. Usually, it takes a while for the final two pots to be filled each day. As for the $1,000 wahoo/dorado optional, it has become very popular and payouts are over $50,000 each DAY.

TEAM REEL GOLD, CAPTAINED by Murray Wright of Cabo San Lucas, BCS, with Dave Patterson, Jon Crawford, Vancouver, BC, and Paul Bonovich with their 230-pound tuna that was the fourth biggest fish overall but won the money in the $3,000 and $5,000 optionals the first day for a total of $110,000. They were on the boat Reel Gold.

In optional jackpots, the winning team takes all cash in the pot that day. There's two days of optionals. If the boat has been chartered, the charter captain will be paid out 10 percent of the winnings. What if no wins the money in a jackpot? It rolls back or roll forward. If no team brings in a qualifying fish of 30 pounds or heavier over two days, the money is reimbursed, minus 20 percent.

And if you don't win cash, there's the $150,000 in prizes given away in free drawings, plus the giveaways for each team when they sign in.

Remember, you are subject to Mexican income taxes, which will be deducted from your team's total amount. If you bring the money into the U.S. you must declare it on your taxes. And, be aware, we divide up the winnings in accordance with the team's wishes based on percentages requested. That way one angler won't be doling out money to teammates but paying all U.S. taxes on it

What if a teammate is a high roller and you aren't? By the same token, if one or two of the team members wants to gamble more than the others, then have that person or persons pay for additional optionals, and if the team wins that optional, he or they will win more of the money. Just tell us what the percentage is and we'll send you the checks, within two weeks.