CARDS IN THE AIR
WSOP Gets Underway With Changes, additions… and fun!
By Sean Chaffin
The biggest event in poker got underway June 1 as the 47th Annual World Series of Poker kicked off in Las Vegas at the Rio Hotel and Casino. The event continues to grow and attracted more than 100,000 entries last year and awarded $210 million in prize money. This year, organizers have made some changes they hope will bring even more players out to join in on the action and live the dream of battling for the sought-after gold bracelet.
One major change is the increased payout field percentages, up from 10 percent in previous years to 15 percent beginning this year. Organizers hope more payouts equals more players and more fun for those “Average Joe” type players looking to cash on poker’s biggest stage. Minimum payouts are expected to be one-and-a-half times the buy-in.
“By paying 50 percent more entrants and reaching the money earlier, we anticipate the 2016 WSOP to be the most rewarding yet,” says WSOP tournament director Jack Effel, who will oversee the tournament for the 11th straight year. “Our schedule this year really runs the gamut for all levels of poker enthusiasts, so we hope you will peruse the events and make your plans to join us this summer at the Rio.”
WSOP staff have also moved all event starts up one hour – from noon to 11 a.m. for the first event of the day and from 4 p.m. to 3 p.m. for later events. The hope is to be more convenient for players and shave an hour or so off of late-night play.
Once again, the WSOP has geared a two-tiered format to cater to average players with smaller buy-in events and then the “world championship” higher buy-ins as well for professionals and those with higher bankrolls. To offer even more play value, starting chips have been increased five times the buy-in for $10,000 events.
Along with massive fields and huge payouts, the WSOP continues to be the spot on the poker schedule that spreads some poker variants rarely seen at other tournament series – and especially at such stakes. While Texas Hold ‘em will certainly be common, other games offered will include Omaha, Seven Stud, Razz, Deuce to Seven Lowball, and more.
“It’s hard to fathom that this event can continue to grow the way it has,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart says. “But with the schedule we’ve put together for this year, we are confident 2016 will be another record-breaker at the WSOP.”
This year’s event features buy-ins ranging from $565 to more than $100,000 for high rollers. Events that kicked-off on Day 1 included the $565 Casino Employees Championship and the $565 Colossus II, a $565 event designed to attract massive player pools right out of the gate Last year’s version of the tournament was the largest poker tournament ever held, attracting a field of 22,374 entries with a prize pool of more than $11 million. Houston native Cord Garcia, 25, took home the title and $638,800 in first-place cash.
The biggest event of the festivities will of course be the $10,000 Main Event, beginning on July 9. The entire event will once again be filmed for broadcast by ESPN and after days of poker felt warfare, the final nine players will return Oct. 30 to play out the final table over three days live on ESPN. Last year’s three-night format proved popular, and Joe McKeehen emerged the champion after beginning final table play with a massive chip advantage – taking home the brilliant gold bracelet and $7.7 million. McKeehen’s huge run continued in 2015-16 with more than $1.8 million in winnings since being crowned the champ.
Another event that stands out is Event 66, which will be played completely online at WSOP.com. Nevada is one only three states so far to legalize online poker (along with New Jersey and Delaware) and this event begins July 8 with all play and registration completed online.
Along with a schedule that includes 69 bracelet events, there will be plenty of cash games of every limit and daily deepstack non-bracelet tournaments for those with smaller bankrolls but looking for some fun. The “dailies” are one-day tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $135-235 and often feature five-figure payouts for first.
Here’s a look at other upcoming highlights of this year’s schedule:
– EVENT 54 (JULY 1) – $888 CRAZY EIGHTS 8-HANDED, sponsored by 888 Poker, legalized online poker in Nevada and New Jersey. The winner is guaranteed $888,888.
– EVENT 55 (JULY 3) – $50,000 BUY-IN POKER PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP. A favorite the professionals, this event plays six-handed and features eight variations of poker: Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud Razz, Seven Card Stud Hi-Low/8-or Better, No-Limit Hold’em, Pot- Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball.
– EVENT 61 (JULY 6) – $1,000 TAG TEAM, with teams for 2-4. This is something new and each team member must play at least one round of blinds. Other members wait and sub as desired. Each member of winning team is awarded their own WSOP gold bracelet.
– EVENT 65 (JULY 8) – $10,000 BUY-IN LADIES CHAMPIONSHIP (90 percent off for ladies to weed out men). This is always a favorite. Last year’s winner was 66-year-old Florida realtor Jacquelyn Scott, who took home $153,856.
For more information on all WSOP events, visit WSOP.com.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. Email him at email@example.com or follow him @PokerTraditions. His new poker book is RAISING THE STAKES: True Tales of Gambling, Wagering & Poker Faces and available on Amazon.com.