Greg Merson’s Loyalty to WSOP is Strong
Twitter has become a great medium for up-to-the-second news, but it is even more fun for the entertainment it provides. Case in point: 2012 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Greg Merson’s comments on Sunday about a World Poker Tour event going on in Las Vegas.
As you likely know already, the World Series of Poker Main Event began Saturday with the first of three starting flights. It will run through Monday, July 14th before taking a break until November, when the final table will be held. Anyone hanging out at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino for the WSOP (or anything else) can head east on Flamingo Road, hang a right on the Strip and soon arrive at the ARIA Resort and Casino, where the World Poker Tour’s WPT500 tournament is taking place. The WPT500 is not a major Tour event. It is simply a $500 + $65 buy-in tournament with a souped-up $1 million guaranteed prize pool.
For some reason, though, the WPT500 has Greg Merson all riled up. In a series of tweets this weekend, he went on a fairly nonsensical rant against the tournament, saying, “Can’t breath [sic] on partypoker/WPT trying to step on the toes of the WSOP main event. Of course you can play both but very disrespectful IMO”
He continued, “The main event is our Super Bowl, save your 5 day re-entry money grab for another date,” finishing up with “Just a desperate attempt by a company trying to hold onto a glimmer of the spotlight as they have continued to slid since 2006 #showers”
It is all so strange. What in the world got into Merson’s head that not only made him so livid about the timing of the WPT500 but also compelled him to tweet about it (ok, it’s Twitter, so maybe the latter question has its own obvious answer). The other curious thing about Merson’s opinion is that it is so incredibly off-base that it almost seems like he is pulling one over on us.
There is simply nothing about holding a poker tournament in the same city at the same time as the World Series of Poker that is disrespectful. There is no arguing that the WSOP is poker’s Super Bowl; it is the most legendary and prestigious tournament there is. But it is not holy. To say that it is disrespectful for a casino to do what it does – offer opportunities to gamble – is ludicrous. Besides, other casinos around town are hosting tournaments every day. Why is the WPT500 so different? Because the World Poker Tour is the other dominant tournament brand in the industry along with the WSOP?
Even if one thinks that there is some modest degree of disrespect there, it should not even be an issue. For one, the WPT500 has a miniscule buy-in compared to the WSOP Main Event; they are not in direct competition with each other. Nobody who is in Las Vegas with $10,000 in hand to play in the World Series of Poker Main Event is going to read about the WPT500 and say, “Hmm…forget the dream of the Main Event, this $565 tourney sounds too good to pass up!” $10,000 tourneys and $500 tourneys are simply not in competition with each other.
Secondly, the WPT500 has five starting days spanning July 4th through July 8th with Day 2, the final day, taking place on July 9th. Anyone who wishes to play in both tournaments has every opportunity to do it. All they have to do is schedule properly. The first and fifth starting days of the WPT500 don’t conflict with the starting days of the Main Event. The final day of the WPT500 only conflicts with the Main Event’s Day 2C. Thus, those who definitely wanted to do both could play in the first starting flight of the WPT500 and then either Day 1A or Day 1B of the Main Event to guarantee that should they make Day 2 of each, those days don’t overlap. Conversely, players could take a shot in the Main Event on any of the starting flights and if they bomb out, just go ahead and register for the WPT500.
WPT500 Tournament Director Matt Savage even replied to one of Greg Merson’s tweets, saying that WSOP conflicts did come to mind, so the WPT500 schedule was changed. “@GregMerson in addition we moved our dates from the 1-6th out of “respect” for the “Little One Drop” as a 1K buy-in is too close to $500.”
In the meantime, Merson himself was scheduled to play in a $260 + $40 Charity Series of Poker event at Planet Hollywood on Sunday. Sure, it was for charity, but cash prizes were still awarded, so it wasn’t some purely philanthropic use of his time. Why is that so much different than the WPT500? It is as if, because he is a WSOP Main Event champ, he has this bizarre loyalty to Caesars Entertainment, owner of both the WSOP and Planet Hollywood brands. Who knows.
The whole thing is just weird. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next thing we heard was that someone hijacked Greg Merson’s Twitter account.