Analysis of the 2011 WSOP Schedule
Two weeks ago, officials from Caesars Entertainment (formerly known as Harrah's Entertainment) released the schedule for the 2011 WSOP. Let's have a look at some of the interesting aspects of this year's WSOP schedule which contains 58 bracelet events that will be played from May 31st through July 19th (before pausing to conclude in November).
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Rio 4 Life
Swirling around the WSOP last year were rumors that poker's biggest series of events would have a new home in 2011. That appears not to be the case. Whatever efforts Caesars was making to sell the Rio All Suites Hotel and Casino seem to have failed. The 2011 WSOP will indeed take place at Rio. The property has played host to the WSOP since 2005.
Player's Championship Moved to End of Schedule
Last year was the debut of the $50,000 buy-in Player's Championship. The eight-game format kick-started the WSOP and was won by Michael Mizrachi. This year, the Player's Championship finds it's place near the end of the schedule. The five-day event begins on Saturday, July 2nd. The first of four Main Event starting days takes place the day following the conclusion of the Player's Championship.
Record 58 Bracelet Events
A record 58 bracelet events will be held this summer. Previously, the record was 57. Both the 2009 and 2010 WSOPs awarded 57 bracelets. To paint a picture of how much the WSOP has expanded, here are the number of bracelet events held at the WSOP over the past decade:
As you can see, the WSOP has expanded considerably since the poker boom and continues to do so. As such, having a WSOP bracelet continues to mean less and less with each passing year (though it is still obviously a tremendous honor).
$25,000 Heads-Up Championship Starts the Series
Replacing the Player's Championship at the start of the schedule is a $25,000 Heads-Up Championship. Up to 256 players will compete in this ultra-high buy-in heads-up tournament that is sure to keep poker fans clicking the refresh button until its conclusion. The event starts on May 31st at 5:00 pm Vegas time, five hours after the $500 Casino Employees Event marks the official beginning of the 2011 WSOP.
It's tough to say how many players will compete in this event. Last year's $10,000 Heads-Up Championship maxxed out at 256 players. The $25,000 six-handed event, which does not appear on this year's schedule (though there is a $10,000 six-handed event), drew 191 players last year. Based on those numbers, it seems like there is a decent chance the $25,000 Heads-Up Championship caps out at 256 participants, but I'd put money on it not getting there if anyone is offering.
Hard Stop Times
Players will be relieved to hear that 2011 is the debut of hard stop times at the WSOP. In years past, the basis on which tournaments paused until the next day was subjective and usually not announced until shortly before the break went into effect. This year, hard stop times will leave no question in the minds of players as to how late they might be playing on any given day. For tournaments other than the Main Event that start at noon, a maximum of ten levels will be played. Those events will restart at 2:30 the following day. Five o'clock tournaments will play a maximum of eight levels and restart at 3:00 the following day. Ceasars stated that this change is aimed at addressing "player comfort".
RIP Jack Ury
To close this article on a note related to the WSOP, the oldest person ever to play in the WSOP passed away last week. Jack Ury was 97 when he participated in last year's WSOP. Born in 1913, Ury served for the U.S. Navy in World War II and retired in 1978 after a career with the U.S. Postal Service.
Jack Ury never cashed in a WSOP event, but his participation was an inspiration to thousands who saw him play on ESPN. He survived day two of last year's Main Event with a stack of 8,200 but did not show up to play on day three and was blinded off. He passed away last Tuesday at his home in Indiana.