Breaking Down the 2011 WSOP Conference Call
Caesars Entertainment held its annual pre-WSOP conference call Wednesday to let us know what to expect this year. PokerJunkie blogger James "compncards" Guill breaks it down.
AutoShufflers Are Here
WSOP Communications Director Seth Palansky mediated the call, and with him was WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel.
Effel was first up and, as expected, he highlighted the new events such as the 10-Game Mix with Badugi and the $5,000 Six-Handed PLO Event.
The biggest announcement that Effel presented was a new deal with Shuffle Master, which will provide automatic shufflers for every final table at the 2011 WSOP.
In some tournaments, the final few tables may have automatic shufflers.
This is a huge change for the WSOP, but I don't feel they took this far enough.
While I expect this will eventually lead to all tables using autoshufflers, for this initial year players at the final table will have an advantage that others in the event did not have.
Granted, the WSOP dealers are the best in the world, but they don't have the speed of an autoshuffler.
ESPN Contract Strong and Added Coverage Fills Gap in Programming
WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart then came on to discuss the business sides of things.
Regarding the contract with ESPN, he said that the rumors of its demise were greatly exaggerated. The contract is in place for ESPN to show the WSOP until 2017.
Stewart then turned his focus onto recent announcements of expanded coverage of the 2011 WSOP.
In addition to the added coverage on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN3.com, every final table will be broadcast on a five-minute delay on WSOP.com.
This is a fantastic move by the WSOP for two reasons.
First, this gives fans that can't go to Vegas the chance to watch the 2011 WSOP and see what the hype is all about.
Second, this fills a huge gap in poker television coverage in the US.
Now, for almost six weeks, there will be poker programming available online.
It has been said by many that the future of broadcast poker is the internet, and for ESPN, the future is now.
Tastes Great, Less Filling, and Highly Profitable
Next, Stewart brought us up to speed on some sponsorship deals.
Miller Brewing actually upgraded their deal with the WSOP and switched its brand from Milwaukee's Best to Miller Lite.
Also, Deerfoam Slippers will be a sponsor at the 2011 WSOP and participants in the WSOP Main Event and the Ladies Event will get free slippers.
Some may look at this and say "big deal" but the Miller Lite upgrade is actually huge.
If you think about Miller Lite, you think of "Tastes Great, Less Filling" and what? You think of sports.
This shift means that the brand is growing in the eyes of advertisers in the non-poker world, and that is something that is going to be sorely needed in this post-April 15 poker world.
Poker Hall of Fame Changes
One of the more anticipated announcements by Stewart involved the Poker Hall of Fame.
The first announcement was one which I have been dreading, but the "Chip Reese Rule" has finally been enacted. Now a player must be at least 40 years old to be inducted.
The next announcement is one that I have been calling for since 2008, and that is a committee to oversee the nomination process.
Fans will still have input into deciding who can be potentially selected, but the new committee will decide who actually gets submitted to the Hall of Fame voting panel.
I do not agree with the Chip Reese rule as it was made almost exclusively to keep Phil Ivey out. You can read more about my opinions on that in my latest blog.
However, I totally agree with the new nomination committee. For the last few years, the process has become a glorified popularity contest, and some credibility needed to be added to the process.
Adding this committee accomplishes just that.
The floor was opened to me and the rest of the media to field questions to the panel.
Instead of going over most questions, here are the important tidbits you need to know.
- Don't expect many patches from the big three. Depending on their "due diligence," future patch restrictions may occur.
- It is business as usual at the Rio. Online sites that serve U.S. players have not been cooperated with since the passage of the UIGEA in 2006.
- Jack Effel has been working out and will serve as a bouncer during the Ladies Event
- Cash game and tournament action is expected to increase. The WSOP held over 7,000 satellites last year.
- The Tournament of Champions is not eliminated but is simply on hiatus
- Even the WSOP conference call can be Fricke-rolled.
The 2011 WSOP kicks off on May 30th at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.