Huge Changes in the WSOP
The World Series of Poker has made some shocking changes to this year's main event. Harrah's Entertainment released the news earlier today that the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker will be delayed until November 9th, 2008. This is 117 days after the last hand is played at the Rio in the summer. Players will play a marathon of poker until there are 9 people left. At this point, the nine remaining players will get the next four months off until the final. This is a bold move by the WSOP to try and build hype, and market the players to a wider audience. The plan is to air parts of the final table in an almost-live broadcast on ESPN on November 11th.
ESPN Senior Producer Jamie Horowitz has said "It is our hope that this adjustment will add more excitement to what's already the biggest poker event ever... just like when baseball added the wild card or when NASCAR added the "Chase for the Championship."
WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack explains "Our goal is to create a greater sense of anticipation for the outcome of the final table. We're changing the equation, if you will. We want as many people around the world as possible to be asking 'Who will win?' and the best way to do that is to make the decision we've made. If there's more buzz and water-cooler talk, just as there would be around the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, or the Daytona 500, then we've done a great thing for the game of poker."
The way the 2008 WSOP Main Event will be structured is to have the cards in the air on July 3rd, with the final table of nine being determined by July 15th. These lucky nine final table players will each be paid out ninth place money and enlisted into a 117 day period of "promotion and anticipation" wherein the players will be able to practice on their poker skills and learn about who they are playing against. They could even go as far as hiring coaches to hone the competitive edge. The player's new found fame will also be established following this 16 week period wait, as they will be marketed and promoted in various ways. One of the ways is an hour long preview show called "Final Table Preview" to be aired on November 4th which will detail the player's lives since the summer. November is the big day for the final nine, as they will gather back at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and play until only two players remain. This is another new twist in the WSOP, as the final two will get to take the rest of the night off to relax and come back on November 10th to play heads-up for the win. The show will then air the next day on the 11th.
This idea has been taking positive and negative feedback from all sides of the community since it was announced. Many questions are being asked, especially around the more sinister problems that could arise. Two or more players could make an agreement and work on a collusion strategy over the 117 days. One of the players could be threatened or harmed during the delay. Deal making, which is already predominate, could get even worse. There could even be VISA issues if a non-American citizen made it to the table.
The Commissioner responded to these negatives: "There are probably a hundred different scenarios that precede any championship event, whether in entertainment or sports and it's very difficult to anticipate every scenario beforehand. People should be confident in our ability to stage an event that is professional, world-class, and customer-friendly as we always do. If there are extraordinary circumstances, we will deal with them with the good process we apply to anything that comes across our desk."
Many of the more popular players have been taking stances on this. Negreanu and Johnny Chan think it's a great idea, while former champ Greg Raymer is mixed on the ideas. It will likely help poker out as a sport overall, with the increased promotions and hype surrounding such a long hiatus from the felt. The average player on the other hand may not trust the delay, or possibly wouldn't be interested in the fame or hype, but merely wants to take it down. Imagine Jerry Yang being followed around by a camera crew for 4 months before going on his mad rush for the '07 bracelet? That doesn't seem like it would work to well. Looks like the world will just have to wait and see what is going to happen, and hopefully it is a success.
There are some other changes in this year's WSOP:
- The satellite tables are going to be in their own separate room.
- The "Poker Tent" of horror is being abolished.
- The capacity of the Amazon Room is now 2,740.
- No more alternates! In person registration begins on May 28th.
- The payout area and cashier cage is being moved out of the tournament floor.
- New and improved player code of conduct to be released this week.
- No more ESPN Pay per View live telecast of the Main Event.
WSOP-C Caesers Las Vegas Final Table
On Day 2 the remaining 54 players returned to Caesers Palace in Las Vegas to play down until the final table for this WSOP Circuit event. This tournament has showcased tones of the top stars in poker, many fresh off the 25k championship event at the Bellagio. Today the event was won by Allen Cunnigham.
Bustouts were fast and furious on Day 2, with a couple mega pros accumulating many chips. Allen Cunningham and Doug Lee, both from the WSOP fame smashed their way through the field and started the final table Day 3 with healthy stacks. The chip leader to start the final table with an impressive 828k was Ben Fineman, who slowly but steadily accumulated many chips. He made it heads-up with Cunningham, but eventually lost out to the skill of his opponent. Former online cheating prodigy Justin Bonomo was also a force to reckoned with, and he finished 5th when Allen busted him out.
The final 9 ended up like this:
Doug Lee busted in 9th for $32k
Ralph Perry busted in 8th for $48k
Thomas Hover busted in 7th for $64k
Blair Hinkle busted in 6th for $80k
Justin Bonomo busted in 5th and 4th for $96k
Motoyuki Mabuchi busted in 4th for $112k
Kelly Samson busted in 3rd for $128k
Ben Fineman busted in 2nd for $257k
Allen Cunningham took it down for 1st place and $499k