Was diverted a little by a conversation early in the show between co-hosts Mike Johnson and Adam Schwartz regarding the news (now over a week old) that the International Olympic Committee had announced that starting in 2020, wrestling will no longer be contested at the summer Olympics.
Technically speaking the IOC has only recommended that wrestling be removed from the list of summer Olympic sports, although it sounds highly unlikely it will be voted back in when the IOC meets again in September to ratify its decision and also to decide whether the 2020 games will be hosted in Istanbul, Tokyo, or Madrid. In other words, after being part of the summer Olympics since 1896 and included at every Olympics since (aside from 1900), there will likely be no wrestling happening in 2020.
You’ve probably read or heard about the general dismay being voiced at the IOC’s recommendation to remove wrestling, a sport that besides being a major part of the modern Olympics also obviously connects the present-day games with the ancient Greek games from way back in the 8th century B.C. For a humorous take on the matter, see Charles P. Pierce’s Grantland piece on the matter in which he fears Zeus might seek some form of retribution.
Anyhow, what I found interesting in the discussion on the Two Plus Two Pokercast was the way Johnson and Schwartz drew an analogy between the traditional offerings at the WSOP each summer and Olympic sports. Not pursuing the idea that far, the pair talked about how the WSOP keeps certain games on the schedule -- razz being the example on which they focused -- more for the sake of tradition than for business reasons.
Indeed, business reasons apparently forced the IOC’s hand with regard to wrestling, as the committee apparently not only factors in a sport’s popularity, but also TV ratings and ticket sales.
That got me thinking again about what events were left out of the 2013 WSOP schedule which was announced a day after that episode of the Pokercast. And how the hosts might have discussed the analogy with the Olympics a lot more had the schedule been out by the time the show was recorded.
Comparing the 2012 and 2013 schedules reveals quite a lot of changes, including events dropped and added and a lot of moving around of events, much more so than has been the case in recent years.
There are 62 events this year, one more than last year. If you look through last year’s schedule, there are exactly 48 tournaments on this year’s schedule that are identical from a year ago (same game, same buy-in). In other words, 13 of the events on the 2012 WSOP schedule did not return, while there are 14 on the 2013 schedule that don’t have an exact parallel from last summer.
Here are the events that were on the 2012 schedule that didn’t come back in 2013 (arranged by buy-in):
And here are the ones appearing on the 2013 schedule that represent additions to what the case last year:
On that latter list you see two $1,500 NLHE events -- those represent two additional ones over and above the total number of $1,500 NLHE events from 2012. I also haven’t included the Ladies event here with its new “differential pricing.”
Comparing the two lists reveals a couple of small changes in buy-ins (e.g., the NLHE re-entry going from $1,500 to $1,000), the switch from $10K to $5K buy-ins for a few, and the removal of the Mixed Hold’em event and the Limit Hold’em Shootout.
No single variant was utterly removed from the 2013 WSOP schedule à la wrestling being taken taken out of the list of summer Olympic sports, although one might look on the changes and say lowball games or even seven-card stud might be endangered, relatively speaking.
My sense, though, is that unlike the IOC which imposes on itself a finite number of summer sports (26), the WSOP probably won’t be finding itself having to choose between variants anytime soon. That is to say, should it become desirable to add something new like an Open-Face Chinese bracelet event, I don’t think doing so will mean having to get rid of something else, given the tendency just to keep on adding more bracelet events.
What do you think of the 2013 WSOP schedule? And do any of the changes stand out for you as particularly good or bad?
(Illustration above by John Wray.)