In a shocking change, Harrah’s Entertainment announced that there will be a delay of 117 days between the WSOP Main Event determining the nine players who will compete at the final table and the actual playing out of the final table. This decision was made in order to increase the hype and anticipation that comes with the final table of the World Series of Poker Main Event, the most prestigious poker tournament in the world.
The WSOP Main Event will commence on July 3rd, and play will continue until the final table is determined. The nine final table competitors will immediately receive 9th place prize money. The remainder of the prize pool will then be placed in an interest-bearing account, and all the interest generated in the 16 weeks between the last hand of two table poker and the first hand of one table poker will be added to the prize pool, going to the players who waited so long to see the conclusion of the event.
Play will recommence on November 9th, with play scheduled to continue until only two players remain. Then, on November 10th, heads-up play will begin. The winner is expected to be crowned on November 11th, with ESPN broadcasting the final table just a few hours after the crowning takes place.
Speaking about the drastic change, WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said, “Our goal is to create a greater sense of anticipation for the outcome of the final table. We’re changing the equation, if you will. We want as many people around the world as possible to be asking ‘Who will win?’ and the best way to do that is to make the decision we’ve made. If there’s more buzz and water cooler talk, just as there would be around the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the Daytona 500, than we’ve done a great thing for the game of poker.”
As expected, this news has received a mixed reaction. Comments have been made with a multitude of questions being asked, but Harrah;’s has asked that the poker community place their trust in them to run a professional event and deal with any problems that may arise. Some concerns are what happens if a player cannot make it back to play in the final table? What is the risk of collusion? What about deal making? Will the players be safe from any threats that may be made? Harrah’s is asking for the trust of the poker community, but knows it is impossible to predict every possible situation.
This puts an interesting twist on the most anticipated poker tournament of the year. This is likely to be a very frustrating move for some, most notably the players, but will in all probability prove to be a success. I expect to see this format used for many years to come as long as no disaster strikes and on wave of negative feedback occurs.