That’s right. November. They’re bringing back the four-month delay for the Main Event final table. No surprise there, given much of the talk surrounding the 2008 WSOP ME final table a couple of months ago (and since). The decision makers and other higher-ups have all been unanimous in praising the “success” of the experiment, while the rest of us have expressed varying degrees of praise, censure, and/or ennui.
More on that in a sec. How about a few other first impressions of the new sked?
-- Fifty-seven bracelets is way too friggin’ many. (Go ahead and add five or so more for the WSOPE later in the year, too, if you wanna.) I’m a poker fan and so don’t mind the overload, but I recognize and appreciate the whole “value-of-a-bracelet-has-been-watered-down” gripe. Hell, as recently as five years ago there were only 33 bracelet events. And five years before that? Sixteen.I remain opposed to the delay for the way it introduces a strange, unwieldy variation into the poker tournament format. Granted, over the years we’ve grown accustomed to (and many of us have enjoyed) a myriad of creative modifications to “traditional” tournament formats. Indeed, one could reasonably argue there is no such thing as a “default” format for poker tournaments. Like novels, each one has its own way of redefining the genre to which it belongs.
-- Am glad to see a preponderance of non-hold’em events again (24 of the 57, if we count Event No. 10, the pot-limit Omaha/pot-limit hold’em event). I’m assuming Event No. 12 ($10K buy-in) is the eight-game mixed event featuring no-limit hold'em, pot-limit Omaha, 2-7 triple draw, and the five H.O.R.S.E. games. You know, the one oft-referred to by discerning commentators as S.P.L.E.N.D.O.R. Looks like there is possibly a second, lower buy-in version of S.P.L.E.N.D.O.R. ($2,500) stuck in there as Event No. 42, too.
-- The so-called “stimulus” Event No. 4, i.e., that $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event for which organizers are hoping to attract over 5,000 entrants, seems like a mostly harmless idea, I guess. I suppose it may well bring a few folks out who might not otherwise have come, and some of those may stick around for other events, too. Will be curious to see the payout schedule, actually, as an incorrectly calculated schedule could make this one a huge disappointment to many.
-- The $40,000 NLHE event (Event No. 2) incites some curiosity, for sure. The buy-in (designed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the WSOP) will certainly introduce some exclusivity to the field, although I think we might be surprised at just how many pony up for this one. It’s possible, though, that this one coming at the start of the series might prove to be a bit of an “anti-stimulus,” knocking some players out of action a little earlier than would have been the case otherwise (although that sort of thing would be hard to measure).
-- There are ten $10,000 “World Championship” events this time around (as opposed to eight last year). The overall price tag for a person playing all 57 events adds up to $289,500, compared to $236,500 in 2008. (Feel free to check my math, there. To swipe a line from F-Train’s very cool coverage of that high-stakes cash game at the Aussie Millions a couple of days ago, I’m no mathemagician.) Of course, for a person to be eligible to play all 57 events she would have to be a woman aged fifty or older who is also a casino employee.
-- Getting rid of the rebuy events has nothing to do with what the players want, nor with that absurd suggestion that such events make it possible for high rollers to “buy a bracelet.” I wrote about this issue last month, and in a comment Dr. Pauly pointed out that the real reason for eliminating the rebuys probably had to do with shenanigans surrounding the collection of the money. I think he is probably right.
-- The November Nine is back. Which sucks eggs.
That being said, stopping the sucker for four months then rebooting remains for me just too damn great a violation of form, making it too different from all other tourneys for any comparisons to be coherently made. I realize we want to make the Main Event unique, but think about it. It’s the “world champion of poker” we’re nominally crowning here. How can we even say that with a straight face if the event only barely resembles all other forms of poker ever played?
To put it another way...
Let’s say that for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers, the NFL announced it was permitting both teams’ players to sell advertising space on their jerseys for the game. In fact, the league is encouraging it. Also, all of the space between the lines on the field at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay will be made available to advertisers, too.
Fans would object, sure, but hey, it doesn’t affect the actual game, right? And the NFL promises the ads on the field won’t obscure the yard-line numbers in any way.
But then we hear the NFL has decided to give each team one extra time out per half than teams are normally allotted. Also, each team will be allowed two extra challenges to use during the course of the game.
We want to make sure our champion is not decided because of an incorrect call, the league is saying in defense of this latter change, although in truth both of these ideas were primarily tied to a desire to squeeze in a few more of them cool commercials, if possible.
A few fans would pipe up about “integrity” and whatnot, but most would still be able to deal.
But wait. Now we’re hearing the league has actually decided to stretch the game out over a period of two days, with the first half played on Saturday and the second half on Sunday night. There will be extensive “halftime” shows both nights, with Springsteen still scheduled to perform on Saturday (between the first and second quarters) and Kelly Clarkson on Sunday (between the third and fourth quarters).
Also, as part of the Super Weekend, Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger will be co-hosting Saturday Night Live via simulcast from the studios of WTVJ in Tampa. Special “holographic” technology such as CNN used during its election coverage will enable the quarterbacks to remain in Florida to participate in skits with the SNL cast in New York in what is sure to be a memorable program brought to you by the good folks at Sprint.
That’s about where we are with this four-month delay idea, I think.
Actually, I was going to go one step further there and say that the NFL had decided to repackage the telecast to show only the first downs, turnovers, and scoring plays. But that would’ve have been silly.