Analysis of 2008 WSOP Schedule
THE WEEKLY SHUFFLE, 2007-12-23, by OzoneHarrah's Entertainment, owners and operators of the World Series of Poker, recently released the schedule for 2008's prestigious series. After poker exploded in popularity following Chris Moneymaker's 2003 victory, the WSOP schedule has seen drastic changes from year to year. In just five years, the series transformed from family-owned, 33 event series played at a small downtown casino to a corporate-owned 55 event spectacle played in a massive convention room at one of Vegas' largest properties. Those involved in the poker world have grown accustomed to radical changes to the WSOP schedule in the post-Moneymaker era. However, this year's schedule is quite similar to last year's. Perhaps this is a sign that the WSOP is getting back into a groove which it hasn't seen since its years preceding the poker boom. Groove or not, it is in the best interest of Harrah's to make at least some changes to the WSOP schedule, if for no other reason than to prevent things from becoming stale. In this article, we'll examine some of the changes worth noting in this year's schedule.
More $10,000 Buy-Ins
For nearly two decades, the only tournament with a buy-in of $10,000 was the Main Event. In 2005, a second $10,000 tournament was added to the schedule, a pot-limit Omaha event. This year, the number of tournaments with a buy-in of $10,000 has been increased from two to eight. All eight of these tournaments are considered the "World Championship" of their respective variant. Four other tournaments ($50,000 H.O.R.S.E., $5,000 7-card stud hi-lo, $1,000 ladies-only no-limit hold'em, and $1,000 seniors-only no-limit hold'em) bring the total number of "World Championship" events to 12, which is more than 20% of this year's tournaments.
In recent years, the series launched with a $1,500 buy-in no-limit event. This year, a $10,000 buy-in pot-limit hold'em event will start the action on May 30th.
The most interesting of the new $10,000 buy-in events is a mixed game that will rotate between eight poker variants. This tournament has been allotted three days for play and will feature no-limit hold'em, pot-limit Omaha, and 2-7 triple draw lowball in addition to the five variants played in H.O.R.S.E. games.
A $5,000 heads-up tournament was added to last year's schedule. This year, the only heads-up event on the schedule has a $10,000 buy-in. It should be noted that Harrah's is capping the number of entrants for this tournament at 256. There could be some jockeying for seats in that tournament. Last year's heads-up event drew a healthy field of 392.
Chip Reese Memorialized Through $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Trophy
In addition to a pile of cash and a coveted WSOP bracelet, future winners of the $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. tournament will receive a trophy named after the late David "Chip" Reese. The winner of this tournament's inaugural running in 2006, Reese passed away earlier this month from complications of pneumonia. He was just 56 years old and was widely considered one of the best poker players in the world.
Bye-Bye Poker Tent
Last year, in an attempt to accommodate more players, Harrah's added a tent that was placed outside the Amazon Room. The tent was the subject of endless complaints during last year's WSOP. Although the tent was air-conditioned, afternoon temperatures often exceeded 80 degrees. According to WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, "We heard folks loud and clear, and there will be no tents used for tournament play at the 2008 WSOP."
Mass complaining at the WSOP prevails again.
Multiple Starting Days For A $1,500 Event
May 31st and June 1st are designated to hold days 1A and 1B of Event #2, a $1,500 buy-in no-limit hold'em tournament. This tournament will mark the first occasion in which multiple starting days are scheduled for a tournament other than the Main Event. In recent years, this tournament has drawn well over 2,000 entrants. Unable to accommodate all players, Harrah's instituted an alternate list which required some participants to wait several hours before receiving a seat in the tournament. Now thanks to two starting days, this event could see even more participants due to an influx of players who otherwise would not have played for fear of being placed on the alternate list. I predict Event #2 will exceed 3,000 entrants in 2008.
Two Week Long Main Event
Those lucky enough to make the final table of the Main Event will be on the tail end of an excruciating marathon of poker. This year's Main Event will take 14 days from start to finish. The tournament begins with four starting days followed by one day off. After this, two "day twos" are on the front-end of seven straight days of tournament play. Then, before June 16th's final table, the lucky nine will be given one day of rest(lessness).
The $500 buy-in casino employees tournament that traditionally started the whole series will now be played on the Main Event's day off following the four starting days.
Harrah's is prepared for 2,500 players on each of the four Main Event starting days. It can be quite difficult to handicap the number of players who will participate in the Main Event, but nonetheless, it's fun to try. I predict the 2008 Main Event will see slightly more participants than 2007's tournament, which had 6,358 players. For the sake of making an exact guess, let's say 2008's biggest poker tournament will see 7,077 players pony-up $10,000 in hopes of becoming rich and famous.
The Weekly Shuffle is our Sunday column with our observations and commentary on the poker world. Have an idea for an article? Leave a suggestion on the feedback page.
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