WPT announcer and Poker Hall of Famer Mike Sexton released his latest blog on PartyPoker’s website on Thursday. In his latest post, he calls out the World Series of Poker and issues his personal grievances on several areas. The majority of his grievances cover issues that have been hotly debated in recent years, the November Nine and bracelet dilution.
Sexton started his blog stating that he has no personal grievances against the WSOP despite being both a WPT and PartyPoker guy. He says his comments come from someone who “has always had nothing but love and respect for the WSOP. Sexton is a former WSOP bracelet winner, taking the $1,500 Stud 8 or Better event in 1989. He is also the 2006 Tournament of Champions winner.
Negatives Outweigh Positives for November Nine
Sexton applauded WSOP officials for their initiative in trying new concepts such as the November Nine but he then gave several reasons why he is against it. He argues that the November Nine concepts fails to put the players first and primarily only serves as a PR tool for the company.
The majority of Sexton’s complaints come over the four-month layover to the November Nine. It gives players an additional four months to train for the final table and he says it penalizes those players that are “in shape” and final table ready in July. He also presents a worst-case scenario of a November Niner dying prior to the event and having to have that stack blinded off at the final table.
Sexton also doesn’t like the fact that the WSOP is holding onto players’ money for four months. It should be noted that ninth place money is awarded to players as soon as they reach the final table. As such, one player will walk away from the November Nine and receive nothing for their extra trouble. In an example, Sexton envisions a day when someone from Finland, Australia or South Africa has to return to Vegas with a short stack and bust out in ninth place, hinting that it could cost them money to return.
Sexton’s suggested solution to this would be to give two days off between after the final table is reached with one of those two days dedicated to media interview. He believes that this will give railbirds ample time to come out to Vegas to support their favorite player. Finally, he doesn’t believe that returning the final table to July will hurt ratings and that there would still be a packed crowd for the final table.
Diluting the Product Due to Too Many Bracelets
The rest of Sexton’s blog is dedicated to the WSOP Player of the Year award and the number of bracelets awarded each year. Firstly, he believes that POY points should only be awarded in Las Vegas. He believes that it gives players an advantage by going to Australia or Europe by allowing them the chance to catch up the Vegas leaders.
Next, Sexton addresses the issue of bracelet dilution. He believes that the awarded of bracelets outside of Vegas cheapens the bracelets and is diluting the overall product. Sexton does concede that the number of bracelet events in Vegas is understandable due to the growing number of players. However, he believes that the staying power of the bracelet will evaporate by continually increasing the number of bracelets awarded.
Sexton explains what he feels is the reason behind the bracelet dilution, Caesar’s bottom line. As he stated, “They’re attempting to strengthen their bottom line (which we all understand and appreciate), but in doing so, are diluting their product (i.e., the value of the bracelet). His letter was written to try to convince WSOP officials to remember tradition and “not let their attempts to increase the bottom line destroy bracelet’s value.”
WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart was the first to responds to Sexton’s blog and gave an impassioned detailed reply to all of his concerns. First, he defended the November Nine concept in calling the final table the “biggest window we have to celebrate the game.”
He then explained what the WSOP does to protect player funds and less the burden of travel on them. In addition to paying out 9th place money when the final table is reached, the remaining funds are put in an interest bearing account and any interest is paid to players. Also, the WSOP furnishes business class travel to players for a return to Las Vegas, meaning they don’t have to put up the cost for a return to play the November Nine.
Stewart then also talked about the advantages to the players that make the November Nine. Many receive sponsorship deals while others receive the benefits of increased press leading up to the event. Finally, he spoke on the insane atmosphere of the November Nine, something that just wasn’t there during the July final tables of the past.
In terms of the number of bracelets being awarded, Stewart argued that the WSOP is trying to reach the greatest number of people possible in their offerings. He argued that if the only concern were the bottom line, they would have never put a mixed event on the Australia schedule. He believes that the WSOP does a great job trying to bring the prospect of a bracelet to players at all price levels and that winning any bracelet is still a worthy accomplishment to celebrate.
– – – – – –
[Photo credit for thumbnail and photo at top of page: WSOP.com]