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ALL ABOUT POKER:

IS THE WSOP A POKER EVENT

OR A MEDIA EVENT?

by Bill Burton

Bill Burton is the Casino Gambling Guide and columnist for the Internet portal About.com located at: www.casinogambling.about.com. He is the author of "1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets" (available online at www.billburton.com) and "Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em" (available at 10% discount from the BJI online store). Bill is also an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: www.thecrapsclub.com

 

The 39th annual WSOP begins on May 30th at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with 55 events scheduled this year. The $10,000 no limit main event will get under way on July 3rd and itís scheduled to be played for 13 days until the field is narrowed down to the nine players making the final table. However, the champion of this yearís World Series of Poker main event wonít be decided until November (some 117 days later) because of a recent change in format announced by the WSOP.

Instead of playing the tournament out immediately, as in the past, the final table action will be stopped and resume on November 9th when it will be played down to the final two players. The action will then stop again, and the two finalists will compete in a heads up match on November 10th to determine the champion. The taped delayed action of the event will be broadcast on ESPN within hours of the actual tournament, a TV first.

Jeffrey Pollack, the WSOP commissioner said that during the 117 day delay, players will have an opportunity to line up sponsorships, coaches, review the play of all their competitors, participate in other tournaments, and take advantage of the new publicity and promotional opportunities that will be available with this change.

The official word from the WSOP is that many players are excited about the change and are looking forward to the added buzz for the final table, which will help get poker mainstream media attention. However, most of the players I have talked with feel just the opposite about this forced four-month delay in the action.

Poker tournaments such as the WSOP main event are more than just a game of poker. They are also a test of endurance because the players are required to play for many hours a day with very little sleep. It is mentally challenging for a player to stay alert and focused on playing his or her best game throughout the long grueling hours of the event. This is one aspect that sets these tournaments apart from all other tournaments. Many players have been eliminated because of mental lapses caused by fatigue. Stopping the tournament for four months, and allowing everybody to come back well-rested and refreshed, eliminates this important element of the tournament. It also takes away from the momentum of a player, who may be having a good run during the tournament. This is because during a long tournament, some players get in a groove and are just able to make the right moves because they have a good read on other players (they are in the zone, so to speak). Delaying the final table of the tournament can take them out of their game and shift the momentum entirely.

Can you imagine if they did this in other sports? Supposed they played three quarters of the Super Bowl and then waited four months to play the final quarter? Or what if they stopped the Indy 500 with 50 laps to go, and concluded the race at a later date?

Iíve attended the World Series of Poker several times in the past eight years. There is a certain amount of excitement with the whole event regardless if youíre playing or not. Part of this is due to the crowd of spectators, who come from all over the world to watch the WSOP action, and to root for their favorite players. Now, youíre not only asking the players to come back four months later, but you are also denying the spectators who were they for the weeks leading up to the final event to see it to the conclusion (unless they also come back four months later).

The bottom line is that Caesars Entertainment (formally Harrahís), who owns the WSOP, and ESPN, who has the broadcast rights, figure they can get more television viewers (and ultimately advertising revenue) by this change in format. It will be interesting to see how this all works out. Iím sure if it is a financial success it will be continued in the years to come, but as a player, I hope this new format fails and the WSOP main event goes back to what it is supposed to be: A real poker event instead of a media event.

Until Next time remember:

Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

 

 

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