Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fifty-Eight Bracelets, One WSOP: 2011 Schedule Is Here

Countdown to 2011 WSOPYou have probably heard -- the schedule for the 2011 World Series of Poker was revealed yesterday. They have snuck an extra event in there this time around, meaning a record 58 bracelets will be awarded at this year’s WSOP. Click here for a full list of events, or here for a colorful two-page .pdf of the sucker.

Buy-ins range from $500 for the Casino Employees event (that kicks things off on May 31) up to $50,000 for the “Poker Player’s Championship” (moved to the end of the schedule to start July 2). Here’s how the 58 events break down according to buy-ins:

$500 (1)
Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em (#1)

$1,000 (7)
five open No-Limit Hold’em tourneys (#8, #20, #34, #45, #54)
Seniors NLH Championship (#30)
Ladies NLH Championship (#53)

$1,500 (20)
seven No-Limit Hold’em tourneys (#18, #28, #32, #38, #43, #48, #56)
Omaha-8 (#3)
Stud (#5)
Limit Hold’em (#6)
2-7 Draw, No-Limit (#9)
No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed (#10)
No-Limit Hold’em, Triple Chance (#12)
No-Limit Hold’em Shootout (#13)
Pot-Limit Hold’em (#15)
H.O.R.S.E. (#17)
Pot-Limit Omaha (#22)
Stud-8 (#25)
Limit Hold’em Shootout (#41)
Pot-Limit Omaha-8 (#51)

$2,500 (10)
Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed (#19)
8-Game Mix (#23)
No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed (#26)
10-Game Mix, Six-Handed (#29)
No-Limit Hold’em (#36)
Pot-Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha (#39)
Razz (#44)
Omaha-8/Stud-8 (#47)
2-7 Triple Draw, Limit (#49)
Limit Hold’em/No-Limit Hold’em (#52)

$3,000 (2)
Limit Hold’em (#14)
Pot-Limit Omaha (#31)

$5,000 (6)
No-Limit Hold’em (#4)
No-Limit Hold’em Shootout (#24)
Pot-Limit Omaha, Six-Handed (#35)
No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed (#40)
No-Limit Hold’em, Triple Chance (#50)
Pot-Limit Omaha-8 (#57)

$10,000 (10)
Pot-Limit Hold’em (#7)
2-7 Draw, No-Limit (#16)
Stud (#21)
Limit Hold’em (#27)
Stud-8 (#33)
H.O.R.S.E. (#37)
Pot-Limit Omaha (#42)
No-Limit Hold’em, Six-Handed (#46)
No-Limit Hold’em (Main Event) (#58)

$25,000 (1)
No-Limit Hold’em, Heads-Up (#2)

$50,000 (1)
8-Game Mix (The Poker Player’s Championship) (#55)

Of the 58 events, 35 are hold’em only, with six other events including hold’em as part of a mix of games. One game -- Badugi -- will be dealt for the first time ever at the WSOP, coming as part of the 10-Game mix in Event #29. And entering all 58 events -- which I suppose would require you to be a 50-plus year-old female casino employee -- would set you back $273,500.

From the 2010 WSOP Main EventGlancing at the schedule, you might say the “class” divide between the lower and higher buy-in events has become fairly wide. As many have remarked, it really does now seem that we have two WSOPs running simultaneously -- one for the “high-rollers,” relatively speaking (played mostly by “name” pros and online ballers who’ve built up rolls), and one for everyone else (where most amateur players gravitate).

The stars still play the lower buy-in events, too -- even with so many events, the bracelet continues to hold a great deal of significance. But on any given day at the WSOP, there usually does seem to be one “featured” battle happening with several lesser, “undercard” events scattered here and there.

Since 1973, the Main Event has remained a $10,000 buy-in tournament every year. In the early years of the WSOP, some of the preliminary events here and there were also $10K to play, but from the late 1980s forward only the ME continued to have the $10K buy-in. Then in 2005 a second $10K event appeared on the schedule, a PLO event. Didn’t take very long after that for the schedule fill rather quickly with numerous high buy-in events.

In 2006 that $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event was introduced, won that year by the late Chip Reese and subsequently referred to (in its various forms) as the “Player’s Championship.” The $10K PLO event was continued that year as well. The next year again saw just two $10K events (the PLO one and the Main Event) plus the $50K H.O.R.S.E., but the number of $5,000 buy-in events was increased that year to 11. That was the year some of those high buy-in events began to be referred to as “Championship” events, too.

Then in 2008 most of those “Championship” events began sporting the $10,000 buy-ins they continue to have today. That year 16 of the 55 events had buy-ins of $5,000 or more. That’s about the same percentage we see this year, when 18 of 58 events will cost $5,000 or more to play. Meanwhile, almost half of the events on the schedule -- 28 -- have buy-ins of $1,500 or less.

2011 WSOP braceletI do like the fact that the WSOP remains accessible to many players, especially the small-timers. Even so, as fun as the WSOP circus can be, there really are way too many events. Goes along with that larger trend that Jon Katkin was writing about yesterday in his Pokerati Op-Ed, “Too Many Tourneys.”

Awarding 58 of them in a single year certainly does something to the overall value of a bracelet. And that big divide between low and high buy-ins further complicates matters when it comes to the business of trying to assess the significance of a WSOP bracelet.

Then again, such debates do add to the fun of it all. Come on summer!

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