This article first appeared in the May/Jun 2012 issue of World Gaming magazine.
The undisputed biggest poker event of them all gets underway again this year in late May. It will be more of the same with a few tweaks to the schedule including one big announcement that has the potential to change the face of poker as we know it.
No matter what happens in the world of poker, for the foreseeable future the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas will continue to be the biggest poker event of them all. Not only does it have the name it also has an iconic history that sets it apart from any other. For nearly two months the world’s best poker players battle it out on the felt for the chance to place that elusive gold bracelet around their wrists, and call themselves a world champion.
Harrah’s, who took over the event in 2004 from Binion’s, will again host the WSOP at the Rio All-Suite Casino situated one mile west of the Las Vegas Strip. There has been constant criticism of the venue over the years, but Harrah’s has stood firm and refuses to bow to the pressure. People often wonder why the WSOP hasn’t been moved to Caesars Palace, also owned by Harrah’s and considered by many a much grander venue, situated right in the heart of the action on the Strip.
The good news is there will be an increase of nearly 100 tables, taking the number of tables from last year’s 378 up to 470. This is excellent news for all concerned. Players will be moved around less and staff will have greater flexibility when managing the events.
The increase in tables has caused a reduction in the number of day ones for the main event, down to three from the usual four. This is a positive move, as it will reduce the number of days needed to run the main event.
The main event days 1a, 1b and 1c will be held on July 7, 8 and 9 respectively. Day 1a and 1b survivors will combine for day 2a on July 10, and day 1c survivors will meet for day 2b on July 11. The whole field will merge for day three on July 12, and will play down to the final nine on July 16.
The other major change is the “November Nine” will now be the “October Nine”, due to a clash with the US presidential elections. The change doesn’t make any difference to this unique concept that sees the final table played several months after the final table of nine players is set. Some love the idea, and some hate it. I am in the middle and see both good and bad points about the long break. I’m happy with it, as long as this is the one and only tournament every year that has this structure.
The WSOP has stuck with offering a number of one-off US$10,000 buy-in “world championship” events covering most poker disciplines. This continues to be a great initiative and offers bigger players premier events that showcase both smaller fields and sterner opposition. The Poker Players’ Championship is back again, and the buy-in remains at US$50,000. It will run over five days and is considered by many to be the unofficial world championship of poker.
The biggest event on this year’s calendar is The Big One for One Drop, a US$1 million buy-in event that promises to be the most impressive poker tournament ever held. There has been talk for years about having a US$1 million tournament and it was not a question of if, but when. The “when” is going to be on 1 July 2012. The tournament is capped at 48 players and on 5 December last year Caesars announced 22 starters had already confirmed. At the time of going to press Caesars claims to have around 30 confirmed runners. They could well go close to getting their 48 runners, as many high stakes players will team up and put players in. I would also expect to see some heavyweight businessmen who will enjoy showing that US$1 million is a small price to pay to pit themselves against the world’s best. The winner will receive the first ever “platinum” WSOP bracelet.
So far among the players registered for The Big One are Cirque du Soleil founder and creator of the tournament, Guy Laliberté as well as many of the world’s best (and/or richest) players:
- Patrik Antonius
- Bobby Baldwin
- Andy Beal
- Johnny Chan
- Jonathan Duhamel
- Tom Dwan
- Tony G
- Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier
- Gus Hansen
- Daniel Negreanu
- Sean O’Connell
- Phil Ruffin
- Daniel Shak
As part of the entry fee each player will donate US$111,111 towards the One Drop charity, an organization dedicated to bringing clean drinking water to those who need it. So far it has done incredible work in places like Haiti and Nicaragua.
The event raises some interesting questions from a tournament poker perspective, from players and organizers alike. How many players will they get? Is this just a one-off, or can it be sustained as an annual fixture? Has poker gone too far away from its grassroots, and lost credibility as a result of this and other super high roller tournaments? While there are some critics of these super high roller events, there is no doubt this tournament will be fascinating to follow. We’ll be reporting on developments as they unfold from July 1 on our website wgm8.com.
For the most part I think Harrah’s have got the format for the 43rd WSOP looking good. While I think they would benefit from a change of venue Harrah’s sees no need. They consistently deliver a quality tournament that keeps players happy. So, book your airfare to Vegas and join the WGM team for the biggest poker event of them all. As usual, there is certain to be strong representation of quality players of Asian descent, but will 2012 see a player who calls Asia home win the main event? Lets hope so!
|STOP THE PRESSES|
WSOP announces move to Asia
The WSOP has announced a multi-year deal with Crown casino in Melbourne, Australia to bring the WSOP APAC (Asia Pacific) to the region. The first WSOP APAC will take place from 4 to 15 April 2013, and will feature five bracelet events. From 2013 the WSOP will have three bracelet awarding carnivals: the WSOP in Las Vegas (since 1970), the WSOP Europe (since 2007) and the new WSOP APAC.