Thursday, May 14, 2015

On the WSOP Conference Call

With a little over two weeks to go before the start of this year’s World Series of Poker, the WSOP conducted its annual conference call for the media on Tuesday.

Ty Stewart (WSOP Executive Director), Jack Effel (WSOP Tournament Director), Bill Rini ( Head of Online Poker), and Seth Palansky (VP of Corporate Communications for CIE) were on the call. As usual, each started out with statements covering various items, then the group fielded questions to round out the hour.

Here’s a full rundown of what was discussed, if you’re curious: “Highlights from the 2015 World Series of Poker Conference Call.”

The Q&A was a bit more interesting than were the statements which contained a few news items but mostly just reiterated schedule details and other information for players.

The first question was about the Colossus, the $565 buy-in event coming during the first weekend for which expectations are very high in terms of the turnout. The question asked about scheduling the Colossus early rather than later in the schedule, and while the answer to that was predictable (“we think we’re ready”), the WSOP’s unbridled optimism regarding the turnout will make it interesting to see just how many play.

It’ll also be interesting to see how well the WSOP meets the logistical challenge they’ve given themselves to stage a tournament that will surely draw more than 10,000 entries, and perhaps much, much more than that. “If it is not by a large margin the biggest event in the history of poker, it will be a disappointment,” said Stewart.

There were other questions about the Colossus, about betting on final tables, about patch restrictions, about making the November Nine a three-day affair (rather than two), about matters (including the online bracelet event), about satellites, and more. The most interesting question, I thought, was the one from Kevin Mathers (representing BLUFF) about final table deals and the WSOP’s long-held policy to prohibit them.

I noticed some discussion of that topic last week over Twitter, with Palansky dipping in with a few confusing comments before stepping out of the conversation. The answer this time came from Stewart who echoed what the WSOP has said in the past about how (in their view) those watching WSOP events would rather see them played out to a conclusion rather than have the climactic moment in which a winner is determined muted by a deal.

The policy (as stated in this way) has more to do with spectators than with players. “The general public really doesn’t want to see skill-based games played that way,” said Stewart. “I can tell you ESPN producers and viewers [also] don’t want to see poker played that way.”

This is a curious point of view, contrasting markedly with how the European Poker Tour (for instance) has handled the issue of both deal-making and audience expectations and/or desires. The reference to “skill-based games” is also interesting, given that a frequent motive for making a final table deal is to reduce the role luck plays in determining how remaining prize money gets divided.

Stewart described those supporting deal-making at the WSOP as “a small and vocal minority,” suggesting that for most players at the WSOP it would be a negative to allow deals. I’m not sure that’s really the case -- i.e., that only a minority support being able to make deals at the WSOP -- and thus I don’t think that issue is going to go away, especially as players continue to make deals on their own, anyway.

Just a couple of weeks to go.

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Blogger Memphis MOJO said...

those watching WSOP events would rather see them played out to a conclusion rather than have the climactic moment in which a winner is determined muted by a deal.

So why not let them make a deal to split equally (or however) X percent of the prize pool that's left, and play for the rest of the money (and of course the bracelet/title). That would accomplish both -- even out the luck, but continue play.

5/16/2015 4:17 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

That is how the EPT generally handles it. They like to set aside a minimum percentage of the remaining prize money for which to play (I believe 10% is usually the goal), then help facilitate players' dividing up of the rest.

5/18/2015 7:02 PM  

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