Thursday, August 18, 2005

Future of the World Series of Poker

I was going through my most recent copy of CardPlayer magazine and I came across an article on the future of the World Series of Poker. I was beginning to ask myself the question on how does the World Series of Poker get any bigger and what is it gonna be like in say 2 years from now or even 5 years from now. I really have no idea how the size of this tournament continues to grow each and every year at the rates that it has been increasing from say three years ago. Anyways, here is the article that i got from Cardplayer magazine and Mike Sexton puts a pretty good spin on things.

From Cardplayer
by. Mike Sexton

Poker definitely has entered a new era. The game is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s now big business combined with massive media hoopla. The top players have become rock stars. There was a record number of players in the 2005 World Series of Poker main event — more than a 100 percent increase from a year ago! This raises two questions: “Is bigger better?” And, “Where do we go from here?”

Bigger is better only in terms of larger prize pools and more players wanting to participate in the game we love — and compete at the highest level. However, in terms of players being taken care of better today than yesteryear, I wouldn’t consider it an improvement. Give me Jack Binion’s hospitality, comps to the players, and the lavish buffets back in the ’80s any day.

You do have to say “Wow!” about the 2005 WSOP. With three “bracelet” tournaments going simultaneously on nearly a daily basis, satellites and supersatellites running continuously, cash games spread around-the-clock, big-time media hoopla, and spectators everywhere, you could have called the WSOP the “Barnum & Bailey of Poker” and not been too far off. Hats off to the entire staff at the Rio for doing a terrific job of running the 2005 WSOP. Special recognition goes to Johnny Grooms and the tournament directors, the dealers, the dealer coordinators, and Nolan Dalla and the media relations people.

I also would like to salute the people responsible for the poker lifestyle show in the adjoining ballroom during the WSOP. What a popular attraction that was! I can’t ever imagine another WSOP without it.

The biggest complaints I heard were targeted at the worthless $10 buffet coupons when you signed up to play a tournament, as it cost you another $8 even if you wanted to walk the long distance to the buffet and fight the crowd once you got there, and the lack of bathroom facilities.

These are very legitimate concerns.

I would like to see a “players buffet” set up in a ballroom adjacent to the poker area, with plenty of seating available. As anyone who played knows, it was difficult to find places to eat in the time allotted at the dinner break of the tournaments. And it’s totally crazy to expect 2,000 players to be able to get to a bathroom on a 15-minute break! Why not break half the room (and let the other half continue to play) for 15 minutes and the other half for the next 15 minutes?

Another complaint (and a pet peeve of mine) was that the payouts of the main event weren’t announced until late on the third day. All players want to know what they can win while they are still in the event and their dreams are still alive. Somewhere, there must have been accounting flaws if it took that long to announce the prize pool. They had to have a list of all those who paid $10,000 to enter the tournament. How tough is it to announce the payout structure when you know the number of paid entrants? I don’t buy the no-show, duplicate stack, death in the family, and medical cancellation theories once the tournament is under way. In my opinion, once the event starts, there should be no refunds. Here’s why: Suppose that Phil Ivey and Doyle Brunson played on day one and they each had $500,000 at the end of the day. I’m guessing there are those who would rather get their $10,000 buy-in back than play on days two or three.

As for the future of the WSOP, the growth factor is a major concern (or should be). Can you imagine a much larger venue than the Rio had this year? And staffing an event that could be twice as large next year will be very difficult, if not impossible.

So, what’s the solution to the growth problem? Well, many think it’s time to increase the buy-in of the championship event to $20,000-$25,000. That would eliminate the problem of a massive field. Here’s my suggestion: Set the WSOP up like the U.S. Open golf tournament. Make players qualify regionally to play in the championship event. Bring the top 2,000 players from these qualifying events into Las Vegas for the final event. Allow another 1,000-2,000 to qualify at the Rio. In other words, players would have to earn their way into the championship event.

I would set up regional qualifying in Europe and other places around the world, as well as in the East, North, South, Midwest, Southwest, and West here in the United States; $10,000 buy-in tournaments would be held at the qualifying sites, where players would have to make the money to play in the final event in Las Vegas. And to enable the championship event to continue to have record-breaking prize pools, a portion of all qualifying tournament money (say 20 percent-25 percent) would automatically go into the prize pool at the main event in Las Vegas.

Nice, huh?

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