Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The WSOP Main Event: Land of 1000 Cashers

A mildly surprising change of course chosen by the World Series of Poker yesterday.

After having announced in late December the return of the the $10 million guaranteed first prize for the Main Event (as was in place last year), the WSOP has now decided instead to jettison that idea in favor of a couple of others suggested by a few pros over Twitter in the wake of the earlier announcement.

As you’ve probably heard, the plan now will be to pay out the top 1,000 spots in the Main Event -- over 300 more than were paid a year ago -- so long as the $10,000 buy-in tournament attracts at least 5,000 entrants (as it has every year since 2005).

Meanwhile, all nine of those making the final table will be guaranteed at least $1 million paydays, with the first-place guarantee no longer in place. The sample payouts suggested by the WSOP based on last year's field size reveal one big consequence of that change -- a major pay jump between 10th and 9th place (from $550K up to $1M).

Darrel Plant has already written up an article for PokerNews that does a good job discussing the new plan, including showing how the payouts in 2015 would compare to last year given a similarly-sized field. Check out “Paying the Top 1,000: Comparing 2014 WSOP Main Event Payouts with 2015 Changes” for the skinny.

One other thing the comparison reveals is how much less nearly everyone who makes the top 600-700 will be earning this time around (the seventh-, eighth-, and ninth-place finishers being exceptions) in order to payout the extra 300-plus spots.

Can't say I expected WSOP so readily to accept both of these ideas, for which an online survey asking for input appears to have built further support. When hearing of them before they didn't seem all that compatible -- i.e., paying more players overall while also paying the top nine more, although as it worked out most of the top nine will actually get less.

I was writing before about how in theory I'd rather the Main Event not be made even more unlike every other poker tournament, and this new payout schedule certainly continues the process of making the Main Event even more different with its wholly atypical payouts. But as I also was saying before, much of the earlier history of the Main Event featured unusual payouts, too, at least compared to “standard” schedules often employed today.

In any case, I know just the song they should play in the Amazon Room when the money bubble bursts this summer:

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