Monday, June 01, 2015

Riding the Colossus

Over the weekend I gave some time along with many other poker people tracking how that “Colossus” (Event No. 5) was playing out at the World Series of Poker, marveling as others did at the numbers it was producing.

The name sounds like what you might call a roller coaster, and in fact there was a well known ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California called the Colossus. That was the one you see in National Lampoon’s Vacation (the “Screemy Meemy”), and I’m reading it also turns up in the classic KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, although the ride is now closed due to a fire last year.

Was a fast, wild, bumpy ride for the poker Colossus, too, the last couple of days.

I appreciated some of the things regarding the $565 buy-in event Jason Somerville, Remko Rinkema, and Donnie Peters discussed on the Friday episode of the PokerNews Podcast, in particular what they had to say regarding the Colossus functioning as many players’ “Main Event” (more or less) as far as the WSOP was concerned. It was also interesting to see the reports of poker rooms all around Las Vegas booming with business, too, as a side effect of the event bringing so many poker players to Sin City.

The final total came to 22,734 entries (about 5K over my guess), a number that includes the many, many re-entries as players could fire up to four times. I’d expected to hear something around that number (or a little less) as the total prior to players getting their refunds for unused entries, but it sounds like that total comes after subtracting those, as there were 25,571 “raw, paid entries” altogether.

As the guys on the “PN Pod” discussed -- and as many others who played the event were tweeting about, too -- there were a lot of first-time WSOP players in the Colossus. Would be interesting to know exactly how many were playing their first ever WSOP event, or even just a rough percentage. Perhaps half? More?

[EDIT (added 6/3/15): The WSOP did release further Colossus stats, noting there were 14,284 unique players and that 5,664 of them -- just a tad under 40% -- were playing in their first ever WSOP event.]

The crew’s sentiments about it shaping up to be an especially positive experience not just for the newcomers, but for the experienced players, too, were all convincing.

As you’ve surely heard by now, 22,734 entries translated to a prize pool of $11,187,000 to be divided by the top 2,241 finishers (a little over 10% of the field). They already made it to the money last night, in fact, with no less than nine all-ins during the final hand of hand-for-hand play.

Of course, if you were following things last night you know that the excitement of the bubble bursting was basically set to the side thanks to the animated response to the announcement of the prize pool, in particular to the $636,880 up top for the winner. That figure surprised many who thought first place in a tournament with that many entries and a $11,187,000 prize pool would at least pay a milly to the one managing to survive the record-crushing field.

Not having any particular skin in the game made it easier for me to be entertained watching the Twitter feed last night as people took up either side of arguments regarding “flat” payouts, the “Golden Ratio,” the relationship of rake to payouts (or lack thereof), and so on. Defensive (and in some cases even seemingly dismissive) responses from the WSOP’s Twitter feed served to add further drama.

Marty Derbyshire does a great job summarizing last night’s immediate reaction over on PokerNews, if you missed that. Jeremiah Smith also has a good morning-after piece today over at All In where he focuses on the WSOP’s not having made clear beforehand the possibility of this particular payout schedule should the event draw the 20K-plus entries they were saying they expected it would.

Sort of felt a little like watching a movie in which the “Colossus” was this awesomely big, frightening-looking creature who turned out to be cuddly and lovable, someone everyone in the story liked. Then suddenly he starts breaking things and wreaking havoc, which might well have been expected given his size, but since everyone had been lulled into thinking they’d always like everything about him they all reacted with surprise.

I’m still on the side of those thinking the event ultimately seems as though it is (or will be) mostly positive, all things considered. And perhaps after this first wild ride it will serve to teach some lessons to players and tournament organizers alike -- also a positive.

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