Want To Fix The World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event?

Cardroom Managment, Tournaments

April 16, 2008

There are a lot of silly rumors floating around about what this year’s WSOP main event is going to look like. All we really know at this point is that it’s going to be a poker-free circus with a high probability of the winner being a total assclown, just like the last two years. That’s what ESPN wants, of course, so that’s what Harrah’s wants. Of course, it could be fixed if someone really wanted to. Maybe if the enough name players demanded it, something would happen. Here are the major problems as I see them:

  • Stacks sufficiently short that there’s little poker skill involved.
  • Too much emphasis on full ring play
  • Luck of table draw being too important to acquiring chips. If you end up on a short-stacked table on the middle days, you basically can’t win unless you get carded off that table.
  • Too small a buyin – the HORSE event and PLO with rebuys are bigger buyin events
  • Too much nitty trying to cash by the pros
  • Too much difficulty counting chips, and having them stolen or added on between days. In other words, too much chip-related cheating.

Now, here’s a way to fix all that:

  • Use a shootout structure where each table plays down to one player, and that player gets some cash in pocket plus moves on to the next level
  • Increase the blinds based on the number of players remaining at the table, not time
  • Keep the average chip stack at 75-100BBs
  • Allow buyins at deeper levels of the shootout (these buyins would have to be made before the tournament started for organizational reasons).

Here’s a suggested schedule & structure that can accommodate up to 10,000 players. It has four levels, and each level will play for a day and a half (more or less) making it a 6 day event. That’s one day shorter than the 2007 schedule, and of course multiple day 1’s can be used as needed. The extra day could be used for schedule slippage as needed. Since you don’t know how many players you’re going to have, the system needs to be able to cope with the possibility of both 9 and 10 handed tables. Here’s how I would structure the levels

Level 1: (day 1, first half of day 2)

  • $10,000 + vig cash buyin required
  • Allow but don’t require a $11111 + vig buyin so if you’re put on a 9-handed table it will pay like 10-handed
    • If such tables can’t be formed or aren’t needed, return $1111 to player
  • $15,000 cash prize ($5,000 if table is 9-handed and players didn’t pay extra extra money) to table winner
  • $85,000 buyin to level 2 to table winner

Level 2: (rest of day 2, day 3)

  • $85,000 buyin allowed before tournament start (counts at 10 “players” for tournament fullness purposes)
  • $127,500 ($42,500 if table is 9-handed) to table winner
  • $722,500 buyin to level 3 to table winner

Level 3: (day 4, first half of day 5)

  • $722,500 buyin allowed before tournament start (counts at 10o “players” for tournament fullness purposes)
  • $1,083,750 ($361,250 if table is 9-handed) to table winner
  • $6,141,250 buyin to level 4 to table winner

Level 4: (rest of day 5, day 6)

  • No cash buyins
  • all money on table is the prize

Some adjustments on day three might be needed if you get a low and inconvenient size of turnout, but the basic idea should be obvious here. The shootout structure and elimination-based blinds give far more play. There’s play at all table sizes, not just full ring. Those who want to buy into a bigger tournament can do so, but those who can’t afford to do so aren’t driven off. There is no bubble – you can only win money by winning your table. This discourages nitty behavior. Since the amount of chips being moved between tables is always exaclty the same amount and chips can be counted a the end of a table, cheating is discouraged.

Seems like the perfect structure to me. It’ll never happen though.

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