Big Changes to the WSOP Main Event Final Table
“You’re on break for 90 days,” officials to say?

by , Apr 4, 2008 | 4:27 pm

In what could well be the biggest change to the main event since playing outside on Fremont Street with a sheet of heavy plastic to hold down the flop … the WSOP reportedly has serious intention of playing the 2008 $10k NLH Championship down to a final table in July, then reconvening three months later as these nine new millionaires play down to a winner. The intent being lots of build-up to a near-live final table on ESPN.

This unconfirmed decision came with careful consideration from what I can tell — many months of discussion, multitable input, and committeeizing. Harrah’s/WSOP authorities were well aware of potential grumbling as they sorted through the logistical details. More TK on this, you can be sure. Reliable sources tell Pokerati that one hold-up was what to do if someone dies or becomes incapacitated/incarcerated in the off-tourney interim … and though this, too, isn’t confirmed, I think they decided to go with blinding off the stack instead of letting poker players designate a substitute in their wills.

Scoop props: Wicked Chops

18 Comments to “Big Changes to the WSOP Main Event Final Table
“You’re on break for 90 days,” officials to say?

  1. Ed

    Was this something you read on Tuesday? Had to be. Most stupid thing I have ever heard. Ever.

  2. DanM

    Definitely not an April Fool’s joke … Why do you think it’s stupid, Ed?

  3. Fawcett

    umm…cuz it is.

  4. Grunkzzz

    It sounds stupid to me.

    I dont know why, I will have to think about it.

    I could understand a week, but 90 days?

  5. Grunkzzz

    Shoot even a day gives people an opportunity to study your game. What could I learn about a pro in 90 days.

  6. Ed

    Dan…got a better question.

    Why do you think it is not stupid?

  7. 85nutz

    They don’t postpone the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup finals, World Series (of baseball), or even NCAA Championships to build up anticipation. Why should they do it for poker? I could understand two days or even a week to advertise and setup for a live final table but 90 days is ridiculous.

  8. BJ Nemeth

    The difference between the WSOP Main Event and other major sports finals (Superbowl, World Series, etc.) is that the players and teams in those events are *known* by sports fans. The final tablists in the WSOP Main Event are, for the most part, unknown even among hard-core poker fans. If they want to build an audience for a live final table, one or two days is not nearly enough time to do it.

    I think three months is too long, however.

    Actually, I have a proposal similar to this, where the WSOP Main Event would start around the world in different casinos with $10,000 buy-ins. These first-round Main Event tournaments would be held *before* WSOP Event #1 begins in Las Vegas. At the end of the WSOP, the Main event would resume with these regional qualifiers from around the world.

    This would give access to the event to more players from around the world, and increase the field size (and the prizepool). Ideally, the worldwide tournaments would all start on the same day, precluding players from entering multiple times, and the top 5% or 10% (or whatever) would advance to the final round at the end of the WSOP in Las Vegas. The first-round of the Main Event would effectively play like simultaneous worldwide satellites into a larger buy-in event.

    This list of qualifying players could be publicized and broken down by region (state, country, whatever), giving fans around the world more to root for. Australians, for example, would know ahead of time how many Australians were in the Main Event, their names, and their poker accomplishments. That would give them something to root for.

    Then, when you reach the final table, postpone the action for another week or so in preparation of a live final table.

    One of the things I like about Jeffrey Pollack is his willingness to look at the WSOP from an entirely new perspective and take risks by trying new things. If something doesn’t work, Pollack and his team will learn and adapt from the experience.

    This 90-day delay may not be perfect, but I’m excited by the possibilities this opens up. If the experiment fails, they’ve learned something. Failed experiments are an important part of science, and I think poker could really benefit from risks like this in the long run.

  9. DanM

    BJ, I remember that idea of yours, and in fact, it was the first thing I thought about when I first heard about this. Or maybe the second — my first thought was that this has to be an April Fool’s joke. Third thing was wouldn’t it have been funny had the WSOP issued a press release with this info on April 1.

    Anyhow, this sounds very similar to your concept of having everyone in Vegas already in the money, but logistically MUCH more manageable. Seriously, I suspect we may be in the minority here, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like a step in the right direction.

  10. Kevin Mathers

    Seems someone posted this on some “news” site, it got posted in the TV poker forum on 2+2 (who knew people read that forum) yesterday. This was discussed on Michael Craig’s blog back in October:

  11. Kevin Mathers

    Here’s the item that was posted earlier this week:

  12. Kevin Mathers

    Of course, being involved with 2+2 as I am, I assume everyone reads that and ignores all other forums

  13. BJ Nemeth

    It was very late when I posted my comment last night, and the 90-day wait made little sense to me. It’s so obvious to me this morning. That’s the minimum amount of time that ESPN would need to get the early days of the WSOP Main Event edited and broadcast, leading up to a *live* final table.

    So they’d not only be able to learn about and hype the final tablists, but really skew the early coverage to show more and more of them, allowing fans to see how they got there. Presumably, the final table would just air a week after the penultimate episode — live.

    Their idea makes more sense to me this morning than it did last night.

  14. Kevin Mathers

    I would hope this doesn’t bring back the sequestrium (Craig’s article mentioned doing the final table with hole card cams live), that killed the atmosphere of the final table. Don’t you think that creating a 90 day delay is going to create more problems than it’ll possibly solve in terms of ratings? A live final table is totally unrealistic unless you make it 30 minute levels like the FSN broadcasts did (then throwing commercials on top of it) to fit into a 4 hour window. That’s why they aired it in a PPV format in previous years (which they’re allegedly not bringing back this year). What about what’s mentioned in the WCP article, or what Dan posits in his post about pros getting a stake of the “amateur” player for advice, or the person who dies/gets arrested/hospitalized. I’m sure you wouldn’t want a “world champion” to be crowned under what possibly could be questionable circumstances, correct?

    And how exactly can the early coverage be skewed to show more of the final tablists? Is there going to be a camera covering every table from say day 2 on? There’s always going to be someone who gets there that gets short shrift for various reasons.

    Craig’s blog articles certainly articulate this better than I can, I’d suggest looking at those as well.

  15. Banasko

    This is actually a brilliant idea on their part.

    The WSOP is not about the live event its about the television show afterwards. The problem with how they do it now is that there is no “show”. Its just a random bunch of clips of video they slice together. I just think about the 2007 show and the shots they have of Sully all in and I think, who cares he is all in?? I also think back to 2006 and I would have loved to see how Gold built up his stack throughout the event.

    With this idea ESPN could build up the cast of characters that are at the final table so that we can see how they got their, who they really are, etc.

    Its the same concept as what they do with shows like Survivor. They shoot all of the video first and then do the finale later so that they can create the story first that leads up the finale.

    I say its brilliant, bravo!

  16. Ben Matlock

    This is without a doubt the DUMBEST idea I have ever heard of…one of the great things about the WSOP is it comes to a conclusion within a week (well, now two) or so. Get in and get out quick(so to speak)….3 plus months is ridiculous. If this were heads up challenges where once you win, you start over in a completely “new tournament” with someone else, I could understand that….but a regular tournament that takes 3 months off before the final table is restarted? Peoples lives and lifestyles as well as commitments change very quickly now a days. I can see ZERO…and I mean absolutely ZERO upside to this.

    Eskimo Clark wouldn’t have a chance of surviving 4 months, hell he can barely make it through a 4 day tournament without going to the hospital…..TWICE! And what happens to the money they win…..they can’t collect until the conclusion? I can see this going over really well. Turd in a punch-bowl mean anything to ya’ll? Are they trying to get fewer and fewer players year after year? If so, this’ll be a good start.

    On second thought, I know who will benefit besides the WSOP advertising dollars and probably a PPV event. Hitmen everywhere. Hey, if you knock off a few of your opponents (what does a hit go for now-a-days $50K?), you’ve suddenly gone up a few million in pay cuz they get blinded out, right? In fact, there could be a whole side betting structure…similar to the Running Man. For 3 months, players at the final table have to dodge, duck, dive, dip, and dodge for their lives avoiding Sub-zero, Dynamo the gay opera singer (quite possibly one of the worst bad-guys in movie history), Fireball, Buzzsaw, and others. Bookmakers in Vegas could put odds on who actually survives to the final table of the Main Event. Hellmuth would be the odds on favorite to go out first. Hell, he’s probably got 3 or 4 hitmen already targeting him.

    One final note: that “hitman” stuff is a pretty dumb idea, about as dumb as waiting 90 days to play a final table of a tournament.

  17. Grunkzzz

    Just what I need a bunch of pros watching me play.

  18. Poker Shrink

    BJ almost said it so I will.

    ESPN wants ratings and the WSOP tapes are falling each year.

    The rumor is based on profits and will all know how unreliable those rumors can be.