On Wednesday, World Series of Poker (WSOP) and ESPN officials held a conference call to preview next week’s resumption of the Main Event, which will trim the November Nine down to a winner. This year, poker fans at the Rio will likely experience shorter lines as a result of increased seating inside the Penn and Teller Theater.
WSOP Vice President Ty Stewart told the assembled media what the setup would be for walk-up attendance this year: “More seats will be available to the general public. We want to service the friends and family of these poker players, but last year it got out of control. At the end of the day, the first year we wondered if anyone would show up and last year we wondered if anyone would leave.” However, WSOP officials cautioned that seating would still remain tight for the first few hours until eliminations occur.
Last year, the line of fans waiting to get in stretched down the hall from the entrance to the Penn and Teller Theater past the convention center rotunda. As a result, many fans were shut out of the experience, at least at the beginning. The crowd inside the theater was quite rowdy, with fans hooting and hollering in celebration any time their favorite player won a pot. The lone exception came when Full Tilt Poker pro Phil Ivey’s chip stack was in danger; then, the crowd fell into complete silence.
Also discussed at length on Wednesday was the fate of the seven players at the final table sponsored by Full Tilt Poker. Per WSOP rules, only three will be able to don a Full Tilt patch of any kind. Stewart explained, “They’ve had ample time to find another company to represent them or figure out who is going patch-less. We’re glad that nearly everyone has an opportunity for… sponsorships, but our rules are clear. We’ve spoken to all of the players and don’t expect any problems, funny business, new logos, or creative affiliate sites.”
The seven Full Tilt Pros to make the final table are Filippo Candio, Joseph Cheong, John Dolan, Matthew Jarvis, Michael Mizrachi, Soi Nguyen, and John Racener. Stewart revealed that any type of Full Tilt Poker patch would count for the three-player maximum.
In a departure from years past, each player will come out to the felt accompanied by the theme music of their choosing similar to a heavyweight boxing match. Stewart frankly explained, “It’s Vegas. Each member of the November Nine will walk to the ring a la a boxer or MMA fighter with theme music they picked out themselves.” Stewart added that the WSOP Main Event final table will sport a choreographed opening and a confetti celebration will occur when the bracelet is finally awarded in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, November 9th.
ESPN’s production team in Las Vegas will number 71. Twenty-one cameras will be utilized and microphones will be placed on each player, the Tournament Director, and the crowd. The broadcast will feature its usual dosage of statistics, chip swings, and quirky facts. Also available this year is a simulcast of the Main Event final table on ESPN3.com. It will run with a five-minute delay and feature a rotating set of pros serving as commentators, including Phil Hellmuth. The ESPN3.com feed will only be available to those poker fans located in the United States.
The finale will air on ESPN at 10:00pm ET on Tuesday, November 9th, one hour later than normal, and may extend beyond the traditional two hours if needed. ESPN commentator Lon McEachern summed up the group we’ll see on that night by observing, “This final table reflects where the game is… There are a lot of guys who aren’t afraid to commit a lot of chips with not the greatest of holdings. It comes down to a battle of wills, but it also comes down to knowing when to cut your losses.”
The final table resumes next Saturday, November 6th, at Noon PT. Poker News Daily will be on site bringing you the latest news, reaction, and video from the Rio.