Thursday, January 29, 2009

The 2009 World Series of Poker

Wow. I got nailed out of nowhere there with basically a 36-hour bug of some kind this week. I woke up a couple of mornings ago after having felt a little off my game the night before, only I was so gross in the morning I couldn't even consider trying to pretend like I was presentable for public consumption. Not a chance. So I went back to sleep, and I ended up "working from home" for the past couple of days while I marked up contracts and responded to emails in a haze of semiconsciousness.

Anyways, sorry for the disappearance, but you know what they say. Sometimes life just intervenes. And btw when I do decide to hang em up here at hammerplayer, I don't think I'll do it by just disappearing one day. Nah, that's far too tame. I've written my resignation post about 15 or 20 times in draft form over the past three years or so. They're all different in their own way, but each one of them is ultimately about me having fun with the whole thing. I'll figure something out, but I strongly suspect when time arrives that I will far prefer the "burn out" option of some massive rant post or series of posts to the lesser "fade away" option more akin to simply stopping posting.

So, back to my topic from the other day, a post I had already half-written before I conked out there. Here it's 2009 already, and I'm already starting to form plans for my WSOP trip this summer. Things may be a bit tricky on that front, but I have the suspicion that I may be able to combine some things together - including upcoming nuptials for my other brother in the fall -- to muster up an excuse to head out to the desert in the summer of 2009 to meet up with some old friends and sling some chips.

I started my plans the same way I've started them each of the past few years. The first stop is always the upcoming WSOP schedule. So I took a look, and when I did, I noticed some really very interesting things.

The first thing I noticed was actually not a change from last year, and that was that the delay and the "November 9" WSOP Main Event final table are back for Round Two with the 2009 WSOP main event. I didn't like this thing the first time around -- the very fact that it allows people to get coaching and potentially completely change their game prior to a final table of the biggest tournament of their lives is still such a joke to anyone who relly understands tournament poker -- and I'm bummed to see it back since it obviously was a total bomb in its first year. The delay combined with a total lack of marketing effort to kill any possible excitement once the second week of November rolled around, and then to top it off the coverage on ESPN straight up sucked out loud. But once again we will play down to 9 final tabllists in the main event, and then wait until November 10, 2009 to run the final table. Oh joy.

But the much bigger change in my view has to do with what will even be considered the "main event" going forward, due to a number of changes with the tournaments themselves. For starters, for whatever reason the powers that be have decided to eliminate all rebuy tournaments from the 2009 WSOP. I think there were four bracelets awarded last year in rebuy events, and those are all gone now. Completely out of the Series. As I said, I'm not sure why this is being done, but I should point out that rebuy events were only added to the WSOP some time ago, and were not played as part of the Series for some time after it first started. So this isn't exactly a break with tradition per se, but the four rebuy events from the 2008 WSOP are no longer part of the Series as of 2009.

The total number of bracelets that will be awarded in the 2009 World Series of Poker will be 57, a new record. So how are they offering a record number of bracelets this year if they've done away with the four rebuy events from last year's Series? And that's where the changes start to get really interesting.

The powers that be at the WSOP are finally putting in motion the very thing I had been expecting them to do for the past couple of years as satellite donkeys and other internet whipper snappers have starting swelling the fields of the world's best and brightest poker tournaments and making it more or less impossible for the pros to consistently win out. Starting in 2009, there are now a number of WSOP events that are called "World Championship Events", and for the most part these are all a larger buyin than all the other tournaments of that particular game elsewhere in the World Series. So, for example, there may be several flavors of O8 tournaments in the WSOP this year, but there is one event which itself carries a $10,000 buyin, that is called the "World Championship of O8". Larger buyin means a smaller field and also means more pros duking it out amongst themselves, for the first time able to claim that you are the undispited "World Champion of O8" if you take down this particular event. Before this year, there was just a $1500 O8 WSOP tournament, maybe a $2500 buyin event and a 5k event in this particular game, with three different winners all winning O8 bracelets in the 2008 Series. Now, only one player will win the "World Championship" of O8, and that player will win a 10k buyin O8 tournament to do it.

Here is the entire 2009 WSOP schedule, so you can see what I'm talking about for yourselves without having to link to anywhere else:

2009 40TH ANNUAL WORLD SERIES OF POKER
05-26-2009 to 07-15-2009
Rio Suite Hotel & Casino
3700 W. Flamingo Road - Las Vegas, NV

COMPLETE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
EVENT DATE & GAME TYPEBUY-IN + ENTRYDAY 1 START TIME
Tue, May. 26 - Wed, May. 27
No-Limit Hold'em Casino Employees - Event 1 $500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT
COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, May. 28 - Sun, May. 31
40th Annual No-Limit Hold'em - Event 2 $40,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, May. 29 - Sun, May. 31
Omaha 8 or Better - Event 3 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sat, May. 30 - Tue, Jun. 02
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 4 $1,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 01 - Wed, Jun. 03
Pot-Limit Omaha - Event 5 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 01 - Wed, Jun. 03
World Championship Seven Card Stud - Event 6 $10,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Tue, Jun. 02 - Thu, Jun. 04
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 7 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Tue, Jun. 02 - Thu, Jun. 04
No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball - Event 8 $2,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Wed, Jun. 03 - Fri, Jun. 05
No-Limit Hold'em 6 Handed - Event 9 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Wed, Jun. 03 - Fri, Jun. 05
Pot-Limit Hold'em/ Pot-Limit Omaha - Event 10 $2,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, Jun. 04 - Sat, Jun. 06
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 11 $2,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, Jun. 04 - Sat, Jun. 06
World Championship Mixed Event - Event 12 $10,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, Jun. 05 - Sun, Jun. 07
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 13 $2,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, Jun. 05 - Sun, Jun. 07
Limit Hold'em Six Handed - Event 14 $2,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sat, Jun. 06 - Mon, Jun. 08
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 15 $5,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sat, Jun. 06 - Mon, Jun. 08
Seven Card Stud - Event 16 $1,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sun, Jun. 07 - Tue, Jun. 09
Ladies No-Limit Hold'em World Championship - Event 17 $1,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT
COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sun, Jun. 07 - Tue, Jun. 09
World Championship Omaha 8 or Better - Event 18 $10,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 08 - Wed, Jun. 10
No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed - Event 19 $2,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Tue, Jun. 09 - Thu, Jun. 11
Pot-Limit Hold'em - Event 20 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Tue, Jun. 09 - Thu, Jun. 11
H.O.R.S.E. - Event 21 $3,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Wed, Jun. 10 - Fri, Jun. 12
No-Limit Hold'em Shootout - Event 22 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Wed, Jun. 10 - Fri, Jun. 12
World Championship No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball - Event 23 $10,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, Jun. 11 - Sat, Jun. 13
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 24 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, Jun. 11 - Sat, Jun. 13
Omaha 8 or Better/ Seven Card Stud 8 or Better - Event 25 $2,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, Jun. 12 - Sun, Jun. 14
Limit Hold'em - Event 26 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, Jun. 12 - Sun, Jun. 14
Pot-Limit Omaha 8 or Better - Event 27 $5,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sat, Jun. 13 - Mon, Jun. 15
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 28 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sat, Jun. 13 - Mon, Jun. 15
World Championship Heads Up No-Limit Hold'em - Event 29 $10,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sun, Jun. 14 - Tue, Jun. 16
Pot-Limit Omaha - Event 30 $2,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sun, Jun. 14 - Tue, Jun. 16
H.O.R.S.E. - Event 31 $1,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 15 - Wed, Jun. 17
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 32 $2,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 15 - Wed, Jun. 17
World Championship Limit Hold'em - Event 33 $10,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Tue, Jun. 16 - Thu, Jun. 18
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 34 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Wed, Jun. 17 - Fri, Jun. 19
Pot-Limit Omaha - Event 35 $5,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, Jun. 18 - Sat, Jun. 20
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 36 $2,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, Jun. 18 - Sat, Jun. 20
World Championship Seven Card Stud 8 or Better - Event 37 $10,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, Jun. 19 - Sun, Jun. 21
Limit Hold'em - Event 38 $2,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sat, Jun. 20 - Mon, Jun. 22
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 39 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sat, Jun. 20 - Mon, Jun. 22
World Championship Pot-Limit Omaha - Event 40 $10,000 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sun, Jun. 21 - Tue, Jun. 23
No-Limit Hold'em Shootout - Event 41 $5,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sun, Jun. 21 - Tue, Jun. 23
Mixed Event - Event 42 $2,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 22 - Wed, Jun. 24
Seniors No-Limit Hold'em World Championship - Event 43 $1,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 22 - Wed, Jun. 24
Seven Card Razz - Event 44 $2,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Tue, Jun. 23 - Thu, Jun. 25
World Championship Pot-Limit Hold'em - Event 45 $10,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Tue, Jun. 23 - Thu, Jun. 25
Omaha 8 or Better - Event 46 $2,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Wed, Jun. 24 - Fri, Jun. 26
Mixed Hold'em - Event 47 $2,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, Jun. 25 - Sat, Jun. 27
Pot-Limit Omaha 8 or Better - Event 48 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, Jun. 26 - Tue, Jun. 30
World Championship H.O.R.S.E. - Event 49 $50,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, Jun. 26 - Sun, Jun. 28
Limit Hold'em Shootout - Event 50 $1,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sat, Jun. 27 - Mon, Jun. 29
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 51 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sun, Jun. 28 - Tue, Jun. 30
Triple Chance No-Limit Hold'em - Event 52 $3,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Sun, Jun. 28 - Tue, Jun. 30
Seven Card Stud 8 or Better - Event 53 $1,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 29 - Wed, Jul. 01
No-Limit Hold'em - Event 54 $1,500 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Mon, Jun. 29 - Wed, Jul. 01
Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball - Event 55 $2,500 + $0
05:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Tue, Jun. 30 - Thu, Jul. 02
No-Limit Hold'em Six Handed - Event 56 $5,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Thu, Jul. 02
Ante Up For Africa Charity Event $5,000 + $0
02:00 PM PDT
COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

Fri, Jul. 03 - Tue, Nov. 10
World Championship No-Limit Hold'em - Event 57 $10,000 + $0
12:00 PM PDT

COVERAGE: SCHEDULE

See that Event #2 up there on May 28? That is a brand new $40,000 no-limit holdem tournament, being played for the first time at the WSOP this year. And you know what? I guarantee you every poker pro at the Rio this summer loves the existence of that new tournament. Keep some of the "internet donkeys" out, some of those 10k satellite winners out, and try to narrow the field by quadrupling the buyin of the previously largest nlh tournament in the entire series. I predict it won't be another year or two before the pros start calling the winner of that even the real "World Champion of no-limit holdem", not the Main Event winner. You just watch.

And then you've got Event #6, the $10,000 buyin "World Champion" 7-Card Stud tournament, and Event #12, the 10k buyin World Championship of Mixed Games. Event #18 is that 10k World Championship of O8 event, and there's even a new 10k buyin 2-7 Lowball no-limit World Championship tournament in Event 23 with also a 10k buyin. Event #29 is another "World Championship" event, this one a heads-up no-limit tournament, also sporting a lofty 10k buyin, and then Event #33 is yet another 10k World Championship holdem event, this one in limit holdem. Event #37 continues the trend with another 10k buyin World Championship of Stud Hi-Lo tournament, and then Event #40 is the Eurodonkfest to lead all Eurodonkfests, the new 10k World Championship PLO event. Event #45 continues with the 10k buyin World Championship Pot-Limit Holdem tournament, and then Event #49 rounds out these "World Championship" tournaments with the 50k buyin HORSE event that was started a couple of years ago.

So what we're seeing here is that the people in charge at the World Series of Poker have made the deliberate decision this year to create a "second class" of WSOP tournament. Previously, every tournament in the Series was more or less worth the same in terms of prestige or whatever you want to call it. I mean, you could always differentiate among bracelet winners by the size of the buyin, but I doubt anyone was really trying to suggest that the guy who won the $2500 buyin nlh bracelet is a "better player" than the guy who won the $1500 nlh bracelet just because the buyin is a little bigger. Of course the Main Event always carries quite a bit of cachet, but other than that, all of those other tournaments could basically be viewed as more or less equal. Other than in recent years that 50k HORSE event, which because of the huge buyin and the "World Championship" in the title, have given it, too, some extra cachet over basically all the other tournaments in the Series.

Well, now starting in 2009, there will be nine new events with 10k buyins or higher, all called "World Championship" events unlike the other 45 events in the WSOP, plus the 50k HORSE World Championship that is new from two years ago, and plus as well this brand new 40k nlh tournament at the beginning of the series that they have sneakily not called a "World Championship" event (not wanting to steal any fire from the Main Event), but which you can easily see within a year or two becoming the no-limit holdem event all the pros really try to win, not the Main Event luckfest with its 6000 entrants each year.

I'm not sure what I think of this change, I'm really not. I guess I will need some time to think it over. But given what they've done with the delayed main event final table, which clearly goes against the nature of poker tournaments but yet is still done as a pure money and marketing grab, I can't exactly say that I trust Harrah's intentions here. What do you guys think?

Labels: ,

9 Comments:

Blogger OES said...

Hey Hoy, Nice recap of what's to come. Quick question. looking at the schedule you posted, all of the buy-ins are formulated like $1500+$0. Obviously Rio is making a boatload from advertisements etc, but is there no rake from the players or do they just take it out of the buy-in?

I'm still too young to play in Vegas, but hope you get yo plans set!

11:27 PM  
Blogger Bayne_S said...

They have had a $10k PLO event for a few years.

My dream is to play it.

12:00 AM  
Blogger anglo63 said...

Hi Hoy,
Have been reading your blog for the last couple of years and felt it was time to make a comment. The 2008 WSOP had a number of World Championship events with a $10K buy in including pot-limit hold em, seven card stud, heads-up no limit, PLO etc. I'm not sure if it's goes further back than last year but 09 will not be the first year. Also the $40K buy in is in recoginition of the 40th anniversary of the WSOP although that doesn't mean it will not continue in future years.

I enjoy reading both your poker and non-poker blogs so please keep them going.

12:39 AM  
Blogger Astin said...

Considering how lacklustre the final table of the ME was last year in terms of name recognition, I'm not surprised by a push for higher buy-in events. If you're Harrah's and ESPN, you want final tables where people recognize the players .

1:12 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

rumor is no rebuys because of issues in accounting for the rebuy money (apparently not all the money from rebuys may have made its way into the prize pool.

2:20 AM  
Blogger VinNay said...

First thing I looked for was Razz, and event I wish I had played last year. Looks like they bumped Razz from $1500 to $2500 this year. That sucks.

4:50 AM  
Blogger Alceste said...

OES -- last year, harrah's took a percentage (I think less than 10%) out of each listed buy-in -- not sure what the "+0" means here.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Yeah OES, when I have played the WSOP, the $1500 includes the vig. It's like $1380 + $120.

Like Alceste, I don't know what the +$0 means here; maybe they've changed it, I don't know.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Gmello said...

Nice analysis of the changes. Adding higher priced events seems a no brainer from a corporate profit point of view.

I agree that the long delay for the Nov 9 final table is sort of awful. At first I thought it would work but I remember having almost no interest in which of the lucky SOB's would win it last November, I had forgotten about it. A simple 2 week delay would be more reasonable.

12:29 PM  

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