Monday, July 18, 2016

The Last Long Day

The World Series of Poker Main Event has long been a special one in terms of its structure, with the two-hour levels being more or less entirely unique when it comes to tournament poker. I can’t think of another live tournament that has ever employed such lengthy levels.

I don’t know when the WSOP first instituted the two-hour levels. I know they were in place in 2003, and perhaps before that as well. Of course, a starting stack back in 2003 was just 10,000 chips (one chip = one dollar).

In 2007 they moved to what they called “double stacks” for many events including the Main, which meant ME players began with 20,000. Then in 2009 they upped it again to “triple stacks” of 30,000 where it stayed until 2015. Then this year Main Event players (still paying $10K to play) began with 50,000, superficially turning the event into a “deep-stacked” tournament.

Of course, the schedule of increases for the blinds and antes have been adjusted as well, which diminishes somewhat the depth of the stacks in a relative sense, making them more comparable to what has been used before.

Today is the last day of the summer for the WSOP and the Main Event, with 27 players returning and a plan to play down to a final table of nine. Looks like they are partway through Level 31, where the blinds are 100,000/200,000 with a 30,000 ante. The average stack with 27 players left is about 12.475 million, or just over 63 big blinds.

Last year when Day 7 began there were also 27 players left. They had about 40 minutes left to go in Level 30 to begin that day, where the blinds were 60,000/120,000 with a 20,000 ante. The average stack to begin the day was 7,133,333, which meant they were on average a little over 59 big blinds deep, not too far off where they will be to begin today.

They made it just over halfway through Level 35 on Day 7 last year -- i.e., just about 10 hours’ (or five levels’) worth of poker. Could go a little longer today, I suppose, and just eyeballing the blinds/antes increases over the next half-dozen levels (and comparing them to last year), they’ll go up just a little more slowly this time; e.g., five levels in today and the blinds will be three times what they are now; last year they went up 3.33 times over that stretch.

I can’t quite remember which year it was -- I believe it was 2009 -- that we all expected a marathon final day thanks to the 27 players returning to super-deep stacks. As noted, 2009 was the first year of the “triple stacks,” and looking back at the coverage the average stack was more than 72 big blinds to start that last day (although the level was about to end).

I think that was the year I actually brought my suitcases to the Amazon room, half-expecting to be cabbing it straight from there to the airport as I had a very early flight at 6 a.m. or something. But the day ended up going by in a blur, finishing in around four levels, and I was able to take my stuff back to my apartment for one last night.

It’ll be a reasonable-length day for those covering the sucker today and tonight, I expect. Then again, let’s not say that out loud and jinx it for them.

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