Today I’m finally working my first day of the 2008 WSOP, helping report Event No. 4, the $5,000 buy-in Mixed Hold’em (Limit/No-Limit) event, for PokerNews.
I spent a little time looking back at last year’s coverage of this same event. This one was Event No. 1 in 2007, and the first levels were dominated with coverage of the players’ complaints about those horrible “poker peek” cards that were eventually done away with before Day 1 was complete. There was also that 1,000-plus-player line at the registration desk that was putting everyone in a serious mood. Nothing even close to those in terms of snafus this time around, as many commentators have remarked.
When one looks back and forth between the schedules of play for the 2007 and 2008 versions of this Mixed Hold’em event, a couple of things happen.
First, one starts to feel a slight throbbing right between the eyes, ‘cos staring at all these numbers tends to have that effect. Second, once one fights through that pain, one begins to notice some interesting differences between the two schedules.
First off, they’ve switched the order and are beginning with limit HE first this year, then no-limit. Last year they started off with no-limit. Each level again lasts one hour, with 30 minutes of LHE followed by 30 minutes of NLHE. (This switch actually makes it even more headachy to try to compare the two, but I’ll perservere.)
Another difference concerns the antes. Last year they did not include antes at all (as in LHE tourneys). However, this year they are going to have antes (as in NLHE tourneys). The antes kick in at Level 5 and rise in a typical fashion according to the rising amounts of the blinds. I’ll be honest -- looking at the structure sheet, it isn’t obvious whether the antes apply to the entire level or just the NLHE half, but I have to believe they must only apply to the NLHE half, as it would seem a bit strange to have them in LHE.
That’s the easy stuff. Now what about the relative speed with which the blinds/antes are increasing? How do the two years compare there?
Well, along those lines, I am noticing two fairly significant differences between 2007 and 2008.
For one, the overall escalation of the blinds has been slowed down considerably this year, which should translate into more hours of play before a winner is determined. Last year Steve Billirakis finally took the last of Greg Mueller’s chips in the Limit half of Level 22, at which point the blinds were a whopping 50,000/100,000. This year the blinds for LHE won’t reach that until Level 27, or five full hours of play later.
Also, there appears to have been considerable effort made to make the blind increases in the LHE half correspond a little more closely to those of the NLHE half.
Here’s how the schedules from 2007 and 2008 compare:
Might have been easier to spot the differences had I converted these into graphs, but you can still see what I’m referring to fairly clearly, I think.
First, notice how even with the addition of the antes to the NLHE part of the tourney this year, the overall cost per round increases less quickly than in 2007. Last year started out more slowly than what we will have at the beginning of the tourney this time, but went into serious overdrive around Level 16 or so. (By the way, I calculated the cost per round assuming a nine-handed table.)
Also, notice how last year the cost per round for the LHE levels got completely out of whack when compared to NLHE, whereas in 2008 the two are being kept pretty close to another throughout.
I think an assumption was made last year that LHE plays “smaller” than NLHE, and thus the blind increases in no-limit were purposely slowed down relative to those in limit. While it true that while individual pots in NLHE will occasionally grow much bigger than in LHE, the whopping increase in blinds (reflected also in big bets on the turn and river) tended to make average pot sizes larger in the LHE hands, if the anecdotes we heard on that subject were accurate.
We’ll see how it all actually plays out, but my initial impression here is the changes in the structure for the Mixed Hold'em event are probably for the better.