Thursday, January 17, 2013

The WSOP Invites You to Australia

“Opportunities are available in all walks of life in Australia!”

So sang the Kinks at the start of “Australia,” the tune closing out the first side of their 1969 LP Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), one of the records in that collection I was writing about yesterday. Another of their concept LPs, the song alludes to the intentions of the title character’s son whose family is about to emigrate to the continent down under.

As that first line suggests, Australia represents a kind of highly-desirable utopia from the perspective of the down-trodden characters who populate Arthur’s story. It's a place thought to have “no class distinction” and “no drug addiction,” where “everyone walks around with a perpetual smile across their face.”

Like in that other Kinks song “Shangri-La,” though, there's some tongue-in-cheek involved here, too, with little chance that reality is going to match the imagined ideal.

I was reminded of that tune when earlier this week the World Series of Poker announced the schedule of events for the first ever WSOP Asia Pacific series coming up in April, including the five bracelet events that will play out at the Crown Melbourne. Here’s the line-up (all $ are AUD, close to equivalent to USD):

  • Event No. 1: $1,100 No-Limit Hold’em Accumulator
  • Event No. 2: $1,650 Pot-Limit Omaha
  • Event No. 3: $2,200 Mixed Event
  • Event No. 4: $5,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em
  • Event No. 5: $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em (Main Event)

    A couple of things jump out from the schedule, one being the inclusion of a “mixed event.” The press release doesn’t spell it out, but I did notice WSOP VP of Communications Seth Palansky tweeting that it will be an “8-game” event such as has happened at the WSOP in Las Vegas in recent years. Thus unlike has been the case at WSOP Europe, there will be at least some non-hold’em or Omaha played at WSOP APAC.

    The first event’s designation as an “accumulator” event also draws the eye, and the press release does explain what that signifies. The event will have three starting days, and in fact players will be able to buy in each of those days if so desired, regardless of whether they happen to bust. In each case, the player buying in to play a given Day 1 flight will begin with the same starting stack, then whatever they end the day with will be bagged as usual. However, if the player plays and survives multiple Day 1 flights, he or she will get to begin Day 2 with those stacks added together.

    It sounds like yet another variation on the “rebuy” format that was jettisoned from the WSOP following the 2008 Series, as well as another variation on the “re-entry” format that has become the standard for Main Events on the WSOP Circuit and has been turning up more and more frequently elsewhere, too. I assume there will be a decent number of players who bust on Day 1a who’ll come back to try again, and perhaps a third time should they bust 1b. But I’ll be curious to see how many will see value in re-entering after surviving an earlier Day 1 flight.

    Sort of intriguing, also, to consider how the buy-ins for the five events gradually increase as the Series goes along (not counting the possibility of entering Event No. 1 three times).

    The timing for the announcement of the WSOP APAC schedule is also interesting. Kind of a last-minute deal, actually, as I think most assumed the WSOP APAC would be announced prior to the start of the Aussie Millions so as to give players a chance to size up both tournament line-ups in order to decide whether to attend one or both. The Aussie Millions began today, in fact, with the first of 26 events having already gotten underway.

    Neither the WSOP nor the WSOP Europe schedules for this year have been announced as yet. Last year the WSOP awarded 61 gold bracelets, plus one more to the WSOP National Champion, while the WSOPE saw seven bracelets won. If the 2013 schedules are similar, then, a total of 74 bracelets will be awarded in 2013. Also, the WSOP APAC will count toward the 2013 WSOP Player of the Year race, the story of which has grabbed increasing attention over the last couple of years due in part to Phil Hellmuth’s successive challenges for POY honors. (He’s finished twice each of the last two years.)

    Turnouts were down at the 2012 WSOPE -- significantly so -- and thus folks will be watching to see what happens at the WSOP APAC in April, including how many players decide to participate in both the Aussie Millions and WSOP APAC events.

    I’m sure there will be plenty of Aussies and others from that part of the world who are there for both. But it’s such a long trip for those from the Americas or Europe, one has to believe a lot of those players will be choosing one or the other, with most likely opting for the Aussie Millions both for its familiarity and longer, more varied schedule of events (including multiple mixed-game events and Chinese poker).

    Then again, come spring, “if you’re young and you’re healthy, why not get a boat and come to Australia...?”

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