WSOP

WSOP Drops $10 Million Main Event Guarantee

The World Series of Poker has announced a change to its planned payout structure for its WSOP Main Event, dropping its planned $10 million first-place guarantee.  Instead, the WSOP will be shifting to a flatter payout structure that guarantees a payday for the final 1,000 players in the event.

WSOPThe change is significant, and is being touted by WSOP execs as a way to boost interest in an event which has always carried a pricey $10,000 buy-in yet requires several days of mind-taxing competition just to make the money.  The thousand-player payout’s guarantee is tentative, based on at least 5,000 players registering to play in the main event, but that seems to matter little, barring an unforeseen and drastic drop in attendance in 2015 and beyond.

Though the 5,000-entrant minimum means that a maximum percentage of 20% of entrants -could- theoretically cash, a presser issue by WSOP execs stresses that the projected percentage of entrants who will cash is designed to be about 15%.  Had the 1,000-cashers structure been in place last year, when 6,683 players participated, eventual winner Martin Jacobsson would have won $8 million instead of $10 million, and the entire payout structure would have been similarly flattened, to look something like this:

1st place: $8,000,000
2nd place: $4,663,527
3rd place: $3,500,000
4th place: $2,750,000
5th place: $2,000,000
6th place: $1,500,000
7th place: $1,250,000
8th place: $1,100,000
9th place: $1,000,000
10-12th place: $550,000
50th place: $142,500
100th place: $50,000
500th place: $20,850
693rd place: $16,750 (the 693rd spot was the money bubble in the 2014 ME)
694-1,000 place: $15,000

“The dream of life-changing money is core to the DNA of the WSOP Main Event and we also want to make it easier to experience playing in poker’s Big Show,” said the WSOP’s Executive Director, Ty Stewart. “Our players understand numbers, and 2015 now presents the best odds ever to leave the Main Event a winner.”

In announcing the change, the WSOP took pains to clarify that last year’s $10 million first-place guarantee was never a permanent fixture, but was instead part of a tribute to the ten years that the WSOP has been held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, the series’ permanent home.  The announcement also noted the other special circumstances that perennially surround the main event, writing:

The WSOP recognizes the Main Event is a unique tournament onto itself, given the highly international field, percentage of repeat players and lofty $10,000 buy-in. The WSOP believes paying a higher percentage of players in this particular event, (based on last year’s entry figure would be akin to 15 percent of the field – nearly 50% more players than previously) will encourage both new and repeat participation for the Main Event, and thus an increased prize pool.

 

No other changes are planned, and the pre-final table action for the main event is still scheduled to run for ten days, from July 5th-14th, 2015.  The tourney’s final nine players will be determined at that time, and as in recent years, will return in early November to determine the main event winner.

The change is also likely to have been in the works for some time, and is unconnected to recent legislation introduced in Nevada which would have the possibility, if passed and signed into law, of outlawing certain types of backing and staking deals between poker players.

That SB 40 bill, though not necessarily having a high chance of being passed, is designed to eliminate money laundering via sports wagering and other forms of high-stakes gambling.  However, the vague language present in the original version of SB 40 poses a possible threat to poker tournaments.  Due to the way poker players raise funding for high-buy in tourneys, those types of events (including the WSOP main event) could conceivably feel the impact of SB 40 or a similar measure if ever passed into law.  Caesars Entertainment and other major Nevada casino operators will likely push for clarifiying language in the bill, however, which was introduced by the Nevada Gaming Control Board at the urging of federal officials.

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