In 2008, the World Series of Poker made the bold move to shift the final table of the WSOP Main Event to November, creating a four-month gap between the time the tenth place finisher was eliminated and the start of the official final table. The “November Nine,” as it was called, lasted nine years until it was done away with in 2017. Now the Main Event continues when the final table is determined, just as is the case with any tournament. Well, any tournament except for some World Poker Tour events this year. Yes, that’s right, the year after the WSOP got rid of the November Nine, the WPT has announced some of its final tables will be delayed by several weeks.
The Tour’s Very Own “November Nine”
It was an oddly quiet announcement from a couple weeks ago. The WPT normally puts anything and everything in a press release, but this news was announced at a media event before the season-ending Tournament of Champions final table. Thus, it certainly was no secret, but it also wasn’t broadcast to the world.
Nine WPT Main Events out of the group that is slated to be televised will be halted when the six-handed TV final table is set. A number of weeks later – estimated to be three to six – the remaining players will meet at the Luxor’s Esports Arena Las Vegas to battle it out to the end. It is not known yet which tournaments will have the delayed final table, as the list of televised events still needs regulatory approval.
If the Esports Arena sounds like an odd venue, keep in mind that the WPT just held a couple events there: the WPT Bellagio Elite Poker Championship $25,000 High Roller final table and WPT Tournament of Champions final tables were both moved to the $25 million facility.
The WPT expects to hold multiple final tables in the same week.
But What’s In It For The Players?
The idea behind the November Nine was to give players a chance to acquire sponsorships and get coaching, as well as give ESPN a chance build a narrative over months of broadcasts leading up to the final table. It was a decent idea, but none of that really worked all that well. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but it wasn’t great and going back to the standard schedule was a good move.
The final table delay- especially considering the elimination of the November Nine – is a strange decision and is getting criticized by many in the poker community, as it seems like something that is decidedly not player-friendly. It will be a pain in the ass for many players to have to make another trip to finish a tournament, especially if they aren’t pro players and need to get more time off from work (and pros may have to forego other tournaments). Players won’t even receive the minimum final table payout during the wait, as they did in the November Nine.
The WPT says it will be good for players because a) getting paid in Vegas is better because Nevada taxes tend to be lower than in other places, b) they will be treated like rock stars in Las Vegas, and c) they can get coached up to prepare for the final table.
I would be willing to bet most players don’t care about any of those things. The taxes, maybe, but not necessarily at the expense of time for many. Almost nobody is going to care about going to WPT-hosted parties and most won’t care about coaching.
In the meantime, the WPT probably saves a lot of money by not having to build and take down a final table set at different venues. It is also probably trying to establish the Esports Arena has poker’s “cool” venue. It’s a branding effort. Everything about this move seems to benefit the WPT and not the players. It’s just weird.