Wednesday, April 29, 2009
WSOP Conference Call
It’s now less than four weeks away.
The 40th annual World Series of Poker will begin on May 26, with 57 bracelets events on the schedule this year. In preparation for the granddaddy of poker tournaments, WSOP officials held their annual conference call with members of the poker media on Tuesday afternoon. Here are some of the highlights of that session:
WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack mentioned three events that are either new or revamped in honor of the 40th anniversary. Most of you may already be aware of the $40,000 No-Limit Hold’em event planned for May 28. This four-day event “will bring out the best players in the world and produce a final table for the ages,” Pollack said. What you may not have heard about is the Champions Invitational to be held on May 31. This event will bring together past main event champions “who will play for bragging rights as the champion of champions.” The winner will receive two sweet prizes – a restored 1970 Chevrolet Corvette and a newly created commemorative trophy called the Binion Cup in honor of the family that started the WSOP. Jack Binion will be on hand to present the trophy to the winner. The third thing Pollack mentioned was the revamped Gaming Life Expo, which will now be known as PokerPalooza and will feature more interactive games and exhibits. This is “our version of NBA’s Jam Session or the NFL Experience,” Pollack said.
The “November Nine” will be back. This year’s championship weekend will be expanded – play from nine players in the main event down to two will take place on Saturday, Nov. 7, and heads-up play for the championship will be on Tuesday, Nov. 10. The final will again receive same day primetime ESPN coverage.
He also said that the Poker Hall of Fame selection process has been tweaked on this its 30th anniversary. The public will be able to submit nominations online at worldseriesofpoker.com from May 28 to July 2. During the main event the top 10 list of nominees will be announced. This list will be sent to the HOF committee, who will review the list and determine if any additions or deletions are needed. In September, the final ballot will be sent to 16 living hall of famers (out of 37 so enshrined) and select media representatives. Anyone who receives at least 75 percent of the vote will be inducted into the Hall at the main event final table in November, a process similar to the Baseball Hall of Fame. “The selection process is not only sensible, but open in a way it has never been before,” Pollack said.
Another aspect receiving a tweak is the bracelet presentation ceremonies. Pollack said that many players receive their bracelets “under the cover of darkness” after winning an event in the wee hours of the morning. Now there will be a bracelet presentation ceremony every day at 2 p.m. in the Amazon ballroom. “The World Series of Poker gold bracelet is poker’s crown jewel and for some time I’ve felt that every bracelet, not just the main event bracelet, deserves a special ceremony,” he said.
The code of player conduct will now be conducted into the official rules and WSOP staff will now maintain a written log of all penalties issued to a player during the WSOP and will use that log to better enforce the rules. “The intent here is simple – work to better ensure that the tournament floor is a civil, comfortable and courteous environment for all players, better manage those players who break the rules of engagement or fail to conduct themselves appropriately and further protect the competitive integrity of the WSOP,” Pollack said. This log will not be available for the public or the media to view, much as police investigations are not public record, said Tournament Director Jack Effel.
Effel said that the opening weekend $1,000 NLHE “Economic Stimulus” event as WSOP officials are dubbing it is expected to be the largest non-main event tournament in the WSOP’s history. The four-day event will have two starting days and pre-registration is already creeping into the four digits, he said. “We’re expecting a sellout weekend.”
He also highlighted the $2,500 Deuce to Seven No-Limit Triple Draw event, which has traditionally only been offered at a $10,000 buy in. “We felt that this was a very important game to the tradition of the World Series of Poker. We want to continue that tradition so we’re offering an entry level event at $2,500,” Effel said. There will also be a $2,500 eight-game Mixed Event in the same vein.
While there are no rebuy events this year, many tournaments will have add-on chips, including all Pot-Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo Split events. Players can add-on their chips between hands during the add-on period and will receive any unused add-on chips after the add-on period is over. Can I write the word add-on one more time? Yes I can.
Effel talked vaguely about an overhaul of the payouts for tournaments, without giving many specifics. He said a professor at Washington & Lee University, as well as poker pros Barry Greenstein and Howard Lederer were involved in the discussion. He said more information will be forthcoming as the payouts are worked out.
This year also brings the addition of a one-hand penalty for some offenses. Levels of discipline now include: verbal warning, one-hand penalty, one round, two rounds, three rounds, four rounds and disqualification.
The 2009 WSOP has a high retention rate of dealers despite a tougher audition process. “We had a very extensive audition process. If they weren’t able to deal Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Split, Pot-Limit Omaha and Deuce to Seven Triple Draw they didn’t get in this year. What we’re looking for are the diverse dealers, the experienced dealers who can deal all the games, not just No-Limit Hold’em, which will provide a better experience for the players and in turn we will have a better tournament because of that,” Effel said. Along those lines, he said that the floor staff will go through a rigorous four-day training session prior to the start of the WSOP in which they will go over al the rules and will act out possible scenarios that could occur on the tables.
Table capacity has been expanded to 306, with some shuffling around. The Amazon ballroom will continue to be the main gaming floor and will now have two final table areas, Effel said. Brasilia will be used again, but this time the full room is available so there will be 95 tables in here in 2009, up from 65 in 2008. The Miranda room will have 56 tables. The single-table satellites are now located in Brasilia. “Last year we had 23 tables allotted for satellites. This year we’re going to have 48 and possibly more if the demand is there. The cage will be bigger. There will be more offerings,” Effel said. Single-table satellite schedules are available online at worldseriesofpoker.com.
Doug White form ESPN said the network will focus on the main event this year. ESPN plans to air six hours of bracelet events and increase main event coverage up to 24 hours, with 2 to 2.5 hours of the final table in November planned. “We feel that the main event is what viewers are looking for for poker programming. It helps us cover the unfolding drama of the World Series of Poker,” he said. Bracelet coverage is expected to include the $50,000 HORSE event, as well as the Champions Invitational (technically cup coverage, but who worries about such semantics?)