WSOP Conference Call Highlights
World Series of Poker (WSOP) officials held a conference call with members of the media on Tuesday to discuss highlights and changes for this year’s poker festival, which begins in two weeks, as well as answer any questions anyone may have. Presiding over the call were WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart, WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel, and WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini. We will not get into every detail discussed during the call, but would like to share some of the highlights.
One of the more interesting tidbits from the call is that for the first time, the WSOP Main Event final table – also known as the November Nine – will span three days instead of two. Last year, the final nine players returned to the Rio in Las Vegas in November and played down to three on the first day and down to the champion on the second day. This year, the final table will begin on Sunday, November 8th and will proceed until four players are left. Those four will continue on Monday, November 9th until just two remain; the heads-up battle will take place on Tuesday, November 10th.
The television schedule will also change. While the first three weeks of Main Event broadcasts on ESPN will be shown in two-hour blocks like last year, they will be on Monday nights rather than Sunday. They will soon shift to Sunday, though, once again going up against NBC’s popular Sunday Night Football. The five telecasts prior to the final table will be expanded to two and a half hours, beginning at 8:30pm ET.
For the final table, the Sunday telecast will begin at 8:30pm on ESPN and will move to ESPN2 at 11:00pm. The next day’s broadcast will be entirely on ESPN2 and the heads-up match will be shown on ESPN.
Throughout the World Series of Poker, players will have access to wireless internet wherever they go at the Rio, even the tables. That is correct: people playing in WSOP live tournaments can have their laptops with them and play online at WSOP.com at the same time. As such, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has relaxed the rule that imposes a limit of one account per IP address. Players will able to make deposits into their WSOP.com accounts with cash at the Rio and will likely also be able to do so at other Caesars properties in Las Vegas.
More information was also given about the WSOP.com online bracelet event. All competitors must be in Nevada to play, but they may qualify for the event outside of the state, say, on WSOP.com in New Jersey. It was announced in March that rather than playing down to the final two players online and then having them duke it out live at the Rio the next day, the live portion would feature the final six players. The online part of the tourney will be held on July 2nd, while the six-handed conclusion will be on July 4th to give players time to travel to the casino.
Then there is the much-anticipated “Colossus” event. Held during the first weekend of the World Series of Poker, it is the cheapest open even in WSOP history at $565. It will have four starting flights in total, two on Friday, May 29th, and two on Saturday, May 30th. It is also a re-entry event. During the conference call, Ty Stewart said that such a highlight event was placed early on the schedule in order to attract as many players as possible to the WSOP right away. It would naturally follow that the hope is that those players will then stick around to play in subsequent events. Tournament organizers expect the Colossus to be the largest live tournament in poker history. In fact, Stewart said, “If it is not by a large margin the largest event in the history of poker, it will be a disappointment.”
The current record belongs to the 2006 World Series of Poker Main Event, the one held at the peak of the poker boom, just before the UIGEA was passed in the United States. It drew a field of 8,773 players; Jamie Gold won the top prize of $12 million.
The Colossus also speaks to the trend over the last few years of making World Series events more affordable. Granted, $565, $1,000, or $1,500 is not pocket change by most people’s standards, but relative to historic WSOP events, it is a bargain. Stewart explained, as might be obvious, that this is an effort to appeal more to the recreational player, the player who wants to experience the World Series of Poker but simply can’t afford to throw down $10,000 on the Main Event. Bringing more recreational players should help the poker economy; poker pros certainly like having them around, as they see them as easy pickings (though the beauty of poker is the fish can often bite back).