By “double-stack” Smith is referring to how players this year are starting with double the buy-in amount in chips (e.g., one gets $3,000 worth of chips for an event with a $1,500 buy-in). When the announcement was made back in March that players would be given twice the starting chips, initial response was very favorable, as many thought this ensured “more play.” However, players soon learned that the blinds were going to be increased as well, a change which appeared as though it might negate much of the difference made by doubling the starting stacks.
I took a look at the structure for this year’s $1,500 No Limit Hold ’em event (Event No. 3) and compared it to that used for the same event last year (Event No. 2). Here’s what they look like side-by-side:
That “cost per round” number, by the way, is based on a nine-handed table. Also, there was a level 24 in 2006, but we never got that far in 2007.
Hard to tell at a glance whether or not the “speed” of the tournament could have been affected by the changed blind amounts. One thing is clear, though -- WSOP officials did not simply double the blinds throughout (as many have said).
So how do they compare, and is there any explanation to be found here for the relatively-rapid final tables we’ve been seeing?
Here’s another chart where I’ve taken that “cost per round” number and expressed it as a percentage of the original starting chip stack. I then compared each level, noting whether players are having to spend “more” or “less” (in relative terms) in order to play each round.
Notice how for most of the tournament -- really until the final table (which started at level 19 in 2006 and at level 20 in 2007) -- players are able to be a bit more patient since the cost per round is “less,” relatively speaking, when compared to 2006.
But look at those last couple of levels. A huge jump there. And compounding the increased speed of the tournament is the fact that we have shorter levels at the final table this year. In 2006, all levels were 60 minutes long until the final table, when the time per level was increased to 90 minutes. In 2007, there is no change at the final table -- all levels continue to last 60 minutes.
How long were the final tables for these two events? In 2006, the final table for this event lasted about 10.5 hours total -- about 9 hours if you discount the dinner break. In 2007, the final table for the same event lasted just 4.5 hours. And they never even made it to the dinner break!
So this year’s final table was over in half the time, and I think the blind structure and the shorter final table levels are two big reasons why.
I am going to assume that we would see something similar if we compared the structures of all of the other parallel tourneys from 2006 and 2007. (I should say that I’ve heard the Main Event structure does not necessarily follow the same pattern here, but I have yet to look into that.) I think Jeremiah Smith was right to say that what we are witnessing at this year’s WSOP final tables is indeed a lot more like WPT final tables than what we’ve traditionally seen at the WSOP. In fact, Smith might have made the same point in reference to the tournaments as a whole, not just the final tables. The whole structure, if you think about, is a lot like that used in most WPT events, with a slower pace for the early and middle sections of the tourney (allowing for more “play”), followed by a hyper-rapid finish.
Is the 2007 structure better or worse? My instinctive response would be to say it is worse, since the slower final table is part of what always distinguished the WSOP from other tournaments. What do you think?
Remember, you can follow all them final tables over at PokerNews' live reporting. Better hurry, though, ’cos they’re going fast.
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