The 41st annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) is still months away, but the schedule of events was released this week. Poker players have been quick to give their opinions on the changes made by Harrah’s and the Player’s Advisory Council for 2010.

The biggest modification to the WSOP schedule was the removal of the prestigious $50,000 HORSE tournament, which will be replaced by a $50,000 Mixed Event. The game will rotate among Limit Hold’em, Omaha High-Low Split Eight or Better, Seven Card Razz, Seven Card Stud, Seven Card Stud High-Low Split Eight or Better, No Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, and 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball. Then, much like the first year of the $50,000 HORSE event, the final table will be strictly No Limit Hold’em and broadcast by ESPN.

Harrah’s also decided to do away with a mid-level buy-in for the Stud High, Stud 8, and Omaha 8 events in 2010, leaving only $1,500 and $10,000 versions of each game. The decision has generated negative feedback from many players, including poker pro and commentator Bart Hanson, who was upset with the lack of non-Hold’em events on the 2010 schedule. “Kind of sucks, I always like other game events at the WSOP,” Hanson said. “Still had great value up to a $3,000 buy in. Now, the vast majority of players will only be able to play the small event where starting chips are a joke.”

With the elimination of several of the less popular tournaments, a handful of No Limit Hold’em events were added. Last year’s $1,000 Stimulus Special attracted 6,102 players, a record for a non-Main Event tournament. In 2010, there are six $1,000 No Limit Hold’em events on the schedule, including five on consecutive weekends from May 29th to June 27th and another on Thursday, July 1st.

Frank Calo, a poker pro who spends the entire summer in Las Vegas for the WSOP, seemed displeased with the changes. “I’m kind of unhappy that there’s so many $1Ks and $1.5Ks,” uttered Calo. “It causes the WSOP as a whole to be less profitable in terms of the hourly rate. I wish they stuck with one or two $1Ks, some other $1.5Ks, and then added more $2K to $5Ks.”

Two Plus Two member “fanliorel” had a differing view: “Last year, the $1K was new and novel and on the first weekend – everybody and their dog was there. I don’t see them getting 6,000 entrants for all six $1Ks this year, just like they don’t quite sell out all of the $1,500s either. Still, it’s too cheap to not get at least 5,000 players per tourney. I’d guess they sell out the $1Ks on the first and last weekend; the rest range around 5,000 to 5,500. They’ll be some great tourneys; last year’s $1K was a blast.”

Another issue that has the community concerned is the rake increase in the $1,000 and $1,500 buy-in events. Harrah’s will take 10% from each of the $1,000 and $1,500 entry fees, compared to 9% from last year. “I guess Harrah’s is operating in a different economic environment,” said Zac “traction” Gilbert, who finished sixth at the 2009 WSOP Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Event. “I guess the only way players can voice their disgust is not play. Unfortunately, that won’t happen.”

The 2010 WSOP gets underway on May 27 with the $500 Casino Employees No Limit Hold’em Event and will culminate in November with the final table of the $10,000 Main Event.

One Comment

  1. Buzman says:

    Yes and no @Bart Hanson.

    I agree that the other games are important and ESPN needs to recognize that the public would support coverage of the other world championships like Stud, Draw and Omaha.

    I disagree that the starting chips for the $1000 events are “a joke”. The starting blinds for the $1k are 25 and 25 while they are 50-75 for the $5k. You start the $1k with 120 Big Blinds (3,000 chips) and the $5k with 200 Big Blinds (15,000 chips). The antes don’t kick in for six levels in the $1k but at level 5 for the $5k. The starting stack at the Main Event is so large compared to the blinds that many respected pros like Phil Hellmuth and Adam Shoenfeld consider the first few levels meaningless. The structure for the $1k provides a lot more play than other lower entry tournaments. As the buy-in grows, the starting stack grows even faster, providing more play for the entry fee. As it should.

    Here is another way to look at it:
    If you can keep your stack just even for five hours, you will have …
    …15 Big Blinds left in the $1k
    … 50 Big Blinds left in the $5k
    It would take you 10 hours to be down to 15 Bigs in the $5k.

    Players should get more play when they pony up more to get in and the structure provides it.
    Seems like somebody put some thought into it.

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