World Series of Poker (WSOP) director Gregory Chochon has announced on the RMC Poker Show that the 2016 WSOP will feature a “team” event that will allow teams of 2-4 players to compete against one another for a WSOP bracelet. The buy-in will be $1,000 per team, with each member of the winning group receiving a bracelet.
Chochon said the inspiration for the idea was to mimic similar high-profile team competitions such as the Ryder Cup. The hope is that there will be the same kind of buzz around taking a game that is normally played on an individual basis and re-formatting it into a team competition.
It should also be mentioned that this is a genius business decision by the WSOP. Musings about the Ryder Cup aside, my guess is that management was searching for a way to lower the price point for a bracelet even further, while still having a reasonable play-through time for the tournament. This brilliantly accomplishes that by attaching multiple players to a single stack.
I honestly say this without any sarcasm —bravo.
New Player; New Hand; New Dynamics
The way the format will work is that each team will be able to select the member of their squad that will play any individual hand. However, there will be limits to the multi-player aspect of the format. For example, Chochon was careful to point out that whoever starts the hand has to finish it (no switching players between the Turn and River, for example), and there will still be no collaboration between players during a hand.
This promises to make for some interesting and complex play. Things such as finding the right match-up between playing styles, using specialists at different stack depths, or even the ability to swap out someone struggling with tilt will all inject new strategic considerations to the game.
Will the Event Be a Success?
I do believe the event will be a success.
For starters, competing in a four person team will lowers the minimum amount you need to compete for a bracelet to $250. As I already alluded to, I think this is something that will attract a lot of interest.
Beyond that, people wanting to take advantage of the opportunity to compete with your friends for a bracelet seems like a can’t miss concept to me. But beyond playing the event, I think interest will extend to the railbirds as well.
The format is very conducive to creating compelling poker content. For example, we could have team Daniel Negreanu squaring off against team Phil Ivey, or team Phil Hellmuth against a group of amateurs. The potential is there for it to be a lot of fun for everyone involved.
Innovating to Guard Relevancy
Innovating within online poker is definitely in style right now. Whether it’s Jason Somerville’s Twitch poker stream, the Global Poker League, or new poker variants such as Hold’em X, the industry is searching everywhere for the next big thing.
I’m really impressed by the WSOP’s commitment to do this same thing with live poker. Demand for bracelets is as strong as ever, but this type of experimentation ensures that the WSOP stays relevant.
Consumers expect new entertainment options in today’s market. Although a large part of the charm of the WSOP is its history, there does need to be a healthy dose of “new” woven into it as well.
Too often, that takes the form of bigger prize pools. It’s nice to see a new experience being offered instead.
The reaction of the RMC Poker Show hosts to the announcement was highly enthusiastic, and I think the reception will be the same in the community at large.
Kudos to the WSOP for innovating in the live poker space.