The 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event is officially in the books and Joe McKeehen went wire-to-wire to win the title. Now that the event has concluded, the debate resumes on whether the November Nine concept is still a viable one.
I haven’t always supported the November Nine. The first couple of years, I was not a fan. I became a believer in the concept during the 2010 November Nine and stuck behind it until a couple of years ago.
While there are certainly bright spots in the broadcasts, the overall feeling is that the concept has lived out its usefulness and we need to try something else. With that in mind, here are three alternatives to the current November Nine setup.
Eliminate the November Nine Concept Entirely
The November Nine has enjoyed an eight-year run, but it may be time to finally abandon the concept. There have been several factors that have contributed to the steady decline in general interest, including Black Friday. The sponsorship opportunities aren’t out there as they used to be and the four-month buildup to the event is somewhat excessive.
It may be time to go back to holding the final table of the Main Event in July and letting the game play out naturally once again. If you want to give the players a couple of days to get fans out to Las Vegas to watch them, fine. Install a two to five day delay and then play out the final table.
Another option would be to eliminate the live ESPN final table broadcast and go for a streamed version of the live final table. Record the final table and do a 24 to 48-hour turnaround for an edited version.
This would get the broadcast of the final table out in a format that is much more palatable to fans. If you want to draw in new casual fans, give them a format that makes them want to watch.
Cut the Wait by Half
Another option would be to cut the wait time by half. Instead of a four-month wait, install a two-month wait into the Main Event. Have the players return in September, maybe on September 9th to play out to a winner.
The Elite 9 on 9-9 at 9 p.m. on ESPN.
Ok, I’m sure a marketing guru can come up with a better catch phrase but a two-month or shorter wait would still give ample time for media outlets to build up for the final table and for players to secure potential sponsorship deals, bring in family, etc.
Keep November Nine but Only Televise the Final Six
Another option would be to keep the November Nine but modify it to allow for quicker or more dramatic play for television. Frankly, we could have skipped the first day and been spared the painful demise of Federico Butteroni.
Luckily they invented the DVR with fast forwarding capability. #WSOPMainEvent— Jonathan Little (@JonathanLittle) November 9, 2015
Keep the concept and don’t bother televising the first day of final table play. At the start of Day 2, you can put up some highlights but start the live broadcast when there are six players left.
Televising the final six players at the Main Event is not a new concept for WSOP broadcasts, but it is something that hasn’t been done since the modern era of poker television began. Perhaps we should revisit the idea or experiment with it at least once to see how it is received.
Also, let’s consider allowing Jack Effel the right to institute a shot clock if players start to act too slowly. Play could have been sped up dramatically on Day 1 had a shot clot been enacted by Effel.