Friday, July 06, 2007

2007 WSOP, Day 36: Part Two -- Forecasting a Frantic Finale

Players start with 20,000 in chips todayOkay, I am back for a second post today. (Read below about how Tom Schneider last night clinched the 2007 World Series of Poker Player of the Year.)

The Main Event is set to begin in just about half an hour. I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about how the blind structures at this year’s WSOP had perhaps helped create some faster-than-usual final tables. At the time, I had not reviewed the blind structure for the 2007 Main Event. I’ve now looked it over, and like others who have compared the two, I am noticing some significant differences between this year’s structure and the one used for 2006. Don’t expect to hear a lot about those differences over the first few days of the tournament. However, once they start to play down to the last three tables, don’t be surprised if you hear folks starting to discuss -- and possibly criticize -- the changes.

Before the WSOP began, we all heard the news that for each event players would be receiving twice the buy-in’s worth of tournament chips. For example, for a $1,000 buy-in event, players would start with 2,000 chips instead of 1,000 (which had been the case last year). Immediate response in the media and on forums was highly favorable, as most assumed this would ensure players extra “play” and make the tourneys seem less of a crapshoot, particularly during the early stages.

However, once WSOP officials released the structure sheets for the events, everyone learned that along with doubling the starting stacks, the blinds would start out doubled as well, rendering the change less meaningful. I don’t say “meaningless” because having twice the chips does make a difference, even if the blinds have been doubled, because we are talking about a no limit tournament. For the limit tournaments, doubling the starting stacks and blinds/betting limits makes no difference whatsoever. But when we’re talking NL, having twice the stack there in Level 1 will most certainly influence how (some) players will approach the start of the tournament.

Even so, let me draw you attention to other differences between the 2006 and 2007 Main Event structures. Take a look at the chart below (click to enlarge, if necessary).

All levels are scheduled to last two hours. In other words, there will not be a shortening of levels at the end here as there was in the preliminary events. (Incidentally, “cost per orbit” assumes a nine-handed table.) The “% change” figure refers to how much more or less it will cost players to sit through an orbit at a given level. Numbers in red indicate lower cost (and thus a “slower” round); numbers in green indicate an increased cost (and thus a “faster” round).

As was the case with many preliminary events, the 2007 structure “speeds up” in the latter stages of the tournament when compared to last year. There are a couple of stretches earlier on when it will cost players relatively less per orbit to play. But notice how right around Day 5 (the day when they are scheduled to play down to 27 players), the cost per round increases quite dramatically.

What is going to happen when the Main Event reaches Level 27 and the blinds start going up more quickly than last year? Well, for one, we might well hear some griping -- although by then we’ll be under 100 players and so there will be only a few dozen players directly affected. The amount (and loudness) of complaints therefore will depend a lot on who those players are.

Another consequence is that it is very possible that unless officials decide to alter the schedule, we’ll have some short days as we approach tourney’s end. The schedule this year has everyone playing six levels on Day 1, then five levels each on Days 2-4. Play on Day 5 is set to continue until 27 players remain. Then on Day 6 they are to play down to the final nine. Because the blinds and antes will be increasing so rapidly, players will be forced to act more quickly during these last days of play than was the case last year.

During the 2006 WSOP, the first five days of play all lasted 11-12 hours or more. Then on Day 6 -- the day they played from 45 players down to 27 -- they only played 5 hours. (I remember Jamie Gold taking credit for having sped the tourney up all by himself -- applesauce, of course.) However, the next day it took them over 14 hours to play down from 27 to 9. And the final table lasted around 14 hours as well. I could be wrong, but my guess is those last days won’t be taking quite as long this year.

Follow all the action over on PokerNews’ live reports.



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