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WSOP Deflated and Outdated? Not So Much

14 June 2010, By: compncards
WSOP Champion 330x300
WSOP Champion 330x300

Charlie River made a post earlier today entitled WSOP Deflated and Outdated.

In it, he made a comments regarding how that he thought that the WSOP should be conducted and I wanted to take a few minutes to comment both as someone who has worked it the last three years, and someone that has played in 4 out of the last 5 WSOP’s.

Everyman Poker is Becoming Pro Paradise

First, Charlie contends that the WSOP has become everyman'€™s supermarket of poker. While there is some merit in that statement, that argument would hold more weight three years ago more so than it does now. While it is true that a lot of amateurs are cashing in events and filling a lot of the lower buy-in events, the reality has been that the professionals have been taking the bulk of the bracelets over the last couple of years.

Directly after the Moneymaker win, there were a lot of amateurs that were taking bracelets and it seemed nearly impossible for a pro to do well. Then the pros adapted. They started playing more mixed games and they started working on their game more. While it is true that a few amateurs will take some bracelets each year, the pros have leveled the field and if you look at the current numbers, the pros winning bracelets this year outnumber amateurs almost 10 to 1.

Making it Expensive Will Kill the Event

The reason that the WSOP has grown as much as it has is that people feel that they have a chance to win. The poker economy in general is driven by dead money, and the WSOP is the same way. While it is true that the WSOP’s of the past were the best of the best, it was even truer that the pros cared more about the side action than they did about the bracelets.   Making the event too expensive will only draw out the pros and after a while they will skip the events in lieu of something that they have a better chance to make money at.

The idea that another concept will become more special than the WSOP is a bit of a stretch. The only thing that compares is the World Poker Tour, and that is due to the history. Things such as High Stakes Poker, and The Big Game are nice concepts, but the only reason they are special is because the players are on TV. If there wasn’t any TV coverage, they wouldn’t care nearly as much obviously. It would just be another cash game.

The history of the WSOP is what draws people and makes it special. A “made for TV” program is not going to compare realistically.

A Change is Needed in Coverage

Charlie and I agree in that the TV coverage for the WSOP should be changed. The only problem is that ESPN is looking at what is drawing ratings right now and if they do not meet their criteria, they go out the door. That is why we have nothing but Holdem content displayed anymore on their programs.

Some live streaming of WSOP video coverage will indeed be done for “some” final tables at the WSOP, but the fact remains that unless they can find a way to make it profitable, it is a concept that will not remain long term.

The “November Nine” concept in my opinion has already shown huge signs of being outdated. Two years ago, the concept was “new and different” and fans tuned in. ESPN had huge ratings. However, I was one of the first people to venture a guess that it would not last. Then last year, Phil Ivey made the final table. Even I expected numbers to jump with Ivey finally making the final table. However, the opposite happened. The numbers slightly dropped. If Phil Ivey cannot draw numbers for ESPN, what hope do they have if this year’s final table does not have a player that draws the fans in? I predict a huge drop in numbers for the final broadcast this year.

While Charlie and I may not agree on all points, I commend him for actually sharing his opinion on matters. Unlike an “anonymous pro” that recently slammed Daniel Negreanu, Charlie spoke his mind. For better or worse, the WSOP is going to continue to grow and draw more fans. Whether they can find a good balance between growth and quality remains to be seen.

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