For 50 years, the World Series of Poker has been the pinnacle, the Pantheon, that all poker players aspired to take part in. For 50 years, the WSOP Championship Event – now going under the moniker of the “Main Event” – has been the apex of the poker world. Winning that event has earned the player the unofficial title of “World Champion,” because of the arduous task in getting through the world-class players that attend the competition and the marathon-length time frame.

Now, however, the “powers that be” in the ivory tower at Caesars Entertainment and the WSOP offices have made another ludicrous decision that is tarnishing the once-impeccable legacy of the event. Caesars announced earlier this week that late registration for the Championship Event would be allowed up until the end of Level 6, or the end of the first level of either flight of Day 2 action. As long as your buy in is in the cage at the Rio and you’re seated at the table before Level 7 starts, you don’t have to go through the minefield of Day 1A, 1B or 1C! This is an absolutely ludicrous decision on many levels.

Roll With the Changes

The changes to the WSOP Championship Event (and I will continue to call it that – if it was good enough in 1971, it should be good enough now) have been gradual, as has the general degradation of tournament poker. First it was the multiple Day Ones for the Championship Event, but that was a necessity; with the onslaught of players taking part in the tournament since 2003, the only way to get them all in the same arena at the same time would be to put them in Sam Boyd Stadium.

Next came the multiplier on chips for the buy-in. In the beginning, you used to get a “dollar for dollar” on your chips – 10,000 chips for $10,000. It was originally thought that by giving two- or three times the stack would allow for deeper play, but tournament directors actually monkeyed with the structures so that there wasn’t a real increase in the deepness of the stack. In 2020, players will receive 60,000 for their $10K buy in…ridiculous, but people like to see big mountains of chips in front of players at the final table to make their tournaments look MORE important.

Now we’ve gotten to the disease that re-entries/rebuys and late registration have wrought.

Officials with the WSOP have, to this point, been able to rebuff any moves towards offering a re-entry for the Championship Event and they have asserted in the past that they would never consider that move. But just this year, they did allow for late registration through the first day of the crown jewel of the tournament series. There’s plenty of argument on the good or ill of this situation, but it does allow for players who might have travel issues to make it to the tables without penalty.

Don’t Want to Play Day 1? You Don’t Have To!

In 2020, the WSOP Championship Event will allow players to completely avoid playing in any of the three-Day Ones by extending late registration to the end of Level 6, the first level of Day 2. This is not because players complained that travel conflicts were keeping them from making the tournament, or a medical emergency was keeping them away. It is being done to completely avoid having to survive the early carnage, which is arguably the greatest challenge of the tournament itself.

None other than longtime WSOP color commentator Norman Chad, who has seen some poker in his lifetime, took to the virtual wall on Twitter to voice his displeasure with the changes. “Allowing Day 2 late registration for the World Series of Poker Main Event is an awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful, awful decision by my friends at the WSOP,” ‘The Couch Slouch’ chirped across his feed. Debate was about 50/50 from Chad’s followers, reflective of the general poker population.

This changes the entire complexion of the event. Players who have the skill and experience to come in on Day 2 – and it is either of the two Day Twos that will be played – with what is roughly an average stack can, if played properly, spin that stack up without having had to work their way through any of the Day One issues. They also would be able to avoid having to compete against approximately a quarter of the field; in 2019, more than 2500 players were eliminated from the tournament by the time Day 2 began.  

Play the WHOLE TOURNAMENT!

Call me a traditionalist, but a poker tournament – and especially the WSOP Championship Event – is supposed to be played in its entirety. While it is a convenience to allow players to register into the tournament after it has started, it is something that has been abused by many. Part of that abuse is, instead of having to play through the early stages of an event, these people earn basically a day off by not having to slog through the lower blinds with the “dirty heathens” who are there from the start.

Too many poker tournaments nowadays have gotten away from what tournament poker originally was, an equal battleground for players to prove their skills or their fates. With the advent of re-entry tournaments, late registration and other changes that have come about because of the casino’s ubiquitous greed, the poker field has become tilted towards professionals with either years of experience (it takes incredible skill to handle a middling stack and turn it into something) or massively deep pockets (when Daniel Negreanu is complaining about how the re-entry tournament is abused, you know there’s a problem). With these actions, the poker world is pushing away those who might take their shot and become the next poker superstar, simply because they don’t have the same advantages as those mentioned.

Normally when the WSOP announces these changes (and especially changes to the Championship Event), they don’t go back. But this is one of those times that they should rescind their change and, at the minimum, return to late registration only running through the Day Ones. The pinnacle event on the poker landscape doesn’t need manipulations and trickery to ensure that people will participate and/or watch the event – it just needs to present an equal playing field for those that are involved.

11 Comments

  1. John Boccia says:

    I have never believed in rebuys. I think all tournaments should be freeze outs..Once you bust.. you are out. Less donkey calls and less hearing for a player asking the dealer JUST ONE TIME

  2. Gary Titus says:

    I agree that I do not like this late reg rule change, however, I do like the deeper chip stack to start with. Allows the better tournament players to survive and actually play poker not bingo

  3. Seth Palansky says:

    You’re better than this Earl. Okay to have your point of view, but in being fair to your readers, you should have pointed out the following:
    1. The WSOP Main Event has 2 hour levels – the longest levels offered in any live tournament in the world.
    2. ALL other tournaments have at least 6 levels of late registration.
    3. The WSOP Main Event only plays 5 levels on Day 1, due to the 2-hour levels
    4. Late registration through Level 6 just makes it consistent with all other events, and in fact is 2-6 levels shorter than most $10,000 buy-in events.
    5. Blind levels in Level 6 are 400-800 in Main Event and players get 60,000 in chips to start. So still a very healthy stack, thus people get the freedom to choose whether it is worth to begin there or start at Level 1 at 100-200.
    6. July 4 is a Saturday in 2020, that makes it trickier. Felt it was smart to give folks option to stay home with family for holiday and still get to play WSOP Main Event on July 5, as this is earliest we have started WSOP in more than a decade.

    Lastly I should point out, we had operational issues last year with making it start of Day 2 play. That is why we have pushed it back through end of that first level. We have no way of knowing how many people will utilize this option (only 100 people did on Day 2AB last year) and thus didn’t leave enough open seats to mix in with rest of field. All in all, when looking at this issue in totality, perhaps it becomes more clear.

  4. Stanley Myiow says:

    20,000 chips were totally enough to start the tourney. Especially with 2 hr blinds.
    $60k is a joke and way, way too much. It changes the way a person plays and increases the raises dramatically. It happens everywhere it is done.
    Late registration for first 6 hrs is acceptable. Not what they are marketing. And it is marketing!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    i agree rebuy’s are awful i also believe that ALL tournaments are TOP HEAVY and the MIN. CASH is terrible IMO you min Cash you should DOUBLE your Money..in the main Event especially the PRIZE Pay Out Is Terrible put up 10k and you can’t even win 100k if you finish in 100th place That’s DISCUSTING!!!

  6. Earl Burton says:

    Hello Seth! Good to see you!

    Thanks for your statements and they are fair arguments. But what was wrong with no late registration, as it had been up to last year? You’re already giving a massive advantage to people who can wait until literally the last minute, get their FULL stack and be fresh (AKA not having slogged through 12 hours of poker) for the upcoming action. Now you want to allow them to just walk in on DAY 2 and be able to play? Sorry, that’s not the way a poker tournament is supposed to be.

    Part of the charm of poker is in what the late Lou Krieger said: “Poker is a microcosm of all we admire and disdain about capitalism and democracy. It can be rough-hewn or polished, warm or cold, charitable and caring, or hard and impersonal, fickle and elusive, but ultimately it is fair, and right, and just.” These changes pull it further away from that egalitarian philosophy.

    Thanks for reading!

    EB

  7. VA says:

    How about double or triple the cost for late registration buy-in and given only half the stack of starting chips? Late registrations should not get a “free” pass.

  8. Sandra Halsey says:

    I am a rank amateur. However, if I can buy in for the same amount and get a full starting stack with the blinds low enough to actually play, I would consider going in on day 2. In fact, why not just start the tournament at day 2 and not play any day 1’s at all? I resent the late registration option past 3 levels. I think only by going through the same stress and aggravation of playing the WHOLE tournament will you get a true champion. Day 2 entry is giving a bye for many rounds and much like a tennis player getting a bye in the first round having the advantage of not being tired; it gives those day 2 entry players an unfair advantage over the rest of the field. I say this because it will primarily be the pros who do the day 2 buy ins as they have the knowledge and experience to work the shorter stack.

  9. Blair Rodman says:

    There are a lot of things that have been done at the WSOP that I disagree with, that I won’t go into here. However, from a playing perspective, if you’re a decent player and you’re not there for every hand of your first day session you don’t understand the situation.
    The Main Event is the greatest tournament ever because it attracts so much dead money, a good portion of which is gone on Day 1. And the slow structure gives a good player a chance to accumulate chips from those dead-money players on Day 1 with lowered risk. If the pros want to skip Day 1, great! It makes it even better because I won’t have to deal with them. What would be bad is if the live ones started entering on Day 2, as every bad player should but likely won’t.

  10. Charles says:

    The 60k starting stack is bad enough but to let people skip day one and register late is even worse. You could potentially get a thousand players wanting to register late. Not saying that will happen but it could depending how many you let buy-in late. I don’t necessarily believe it’s to make more money. I think it is so the big names can come in later and have a better shot of running deep in the tournament. I know you have to avoid bad beats and get lucky a few times to win any tournament but your top players would have an even greater advantage of making a deep run as it’s not all luck but a lot of skill too.

  11. Bennett FLANAGAN says:

    I love tournament poker..the anticipation…the prizes and most of all the fairness of it. The best player today will win.

    I play regularly in a Saturday one reentry tournment. I think reentry fosters more action by the loose player with deeper pockets thereby giving a weaker player the opportunity to accumulate some chips and run deeper that they may have otherwise. This is a good thing. Sensible number of reentry levels make sense. Nine levels of reentry in a 30 minute per level tournment is blantantly unfair IMO, and there are plenty of them to choose from.

    Another complaint is that T-Directors have gone nuts with the amount of starting chips. Whos needs 60k in chips with 100/200 starting levels? As a recreational player I would definately enter on the second day. See you in July, boys.

    The one thing I like about the majors is that the final table returns the next day. Should never be over 8 and not less than 6 players but this pretty common.

    I also agree that the lower end of the pay scale be at twice the buyin.

    Finally for some of you advanced poker thinkers out there lets discuss some all in hand changes. For expample, when two players (only two) are all in before the flop give them an option of running the flop twice (both must agree). Must win both to eleminate a player. This idea would not cover any all-ins post flop. This could be incorporated in addition to some other changes, no reentry, fewer statring chips, etc., to keep the tournment from running forever. Just a thought.

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