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The World Series of Poker released the complete schedule for the 2015 WSOP tournament series and there are a lot of changes; a lot of positive changes in my opinion.

The 2015 WSOP schedule features 68 bracelet events, including 10 new tournament formats for players to choose from. The new events feature new formats, new price points, and the first of its kind online bracelet event at the World Series of Poker.

Before I get into the new additions and changes to the 2015 WSOP schedule, I want to touch upon a previously announced change; the completely revamped payout structure the WSOP is implementing for the 2015 Main Event.

Main Event payout structure

Last year the WSOP experimented with a first place guarantee of $10 million, figuring the nice round number would work as a marketing tactic to attract players and attention. While it didn’t have quite the impact the WSOP was hoping for, it wasn’t a failure by any stretch of the imagination.

The big drawback of this strategy was a very top-heavy payout structure that drew the ire of some in the poker community, as the number of entries in the WSOP Main Event typically creates a first place prize of around $9 million, which means the extra million has to come from other payout positions.

After some complaints/suggestions, the WSOP brass decided to poll poker players and poker fans to see what they wanted, and what they wanted is the exact opposite of what the WSOP instituted in 2014. The results of their questionnaire indicated players were not only calling on the WSOP to eliminate the $10 million first place guarantee, but to increase the number of people making the money.

The WSOP asked, the poker community responded, and the WSOP listened, dropping the $10 million first place guarantee and bumping the percentage of players who will cash from 10% to 15%, or from around 700 to 1,000 players. The WSOP also flattened the top payouts so each player making the final table will receive at least $1 million.

That means 300 extra satisfied customers and just as many million-dollar headlines.

10 new events for 2015

Here is a look at the 10 new tournaments on the 2015 WSOP schedule from the WSOP.com official press release:

May 29-30: Event #5 – $565 Colossus No-Limit Hold’em with a $5,000,000 guaranteed prize pool.

May 31: Event #6 – $1,000 Hyper No-Limit Hold’em with a fast, two-day structure.

June 20: Event #42 – $1,500 Extended Play No-Limit Hold’em featuring longer, 90-minute levels.

June 21: Event #43 – $1,000 Super Seniors No-Limit Hold’em. Must be age 65+ to enter.

June 26: Event #53 – $5,000 Turbo No-Limit Hold’em, two-day structure with a high buy-in.

June 27: Event #55 – $1,500 DraftKings 50/50 No-Limit Hold’em. Half the field to be paid.

June 29: Event #60 – $25,000 High Roller 8-handed Pot-Limit Omaha. 4-day event.

July 1: Event #62 – $1,500 Bounty No-Limit Hold’em. Every player is a bounty. Each is worth $500.

July 3: Event #65 – $777 Lucky 7’s No-Limit Hold’em, featuring a first-ever $777 price point.

July 3: Event #67 – $10,000 Dealers Choice, featuring 19 variants – the most ever played in a single WSOP event.

Despite being something of a poker purist, I like most of the new events and structures, but I want to specifically touch on several of these new events, and why I feel they are positive additions.

Super Senior tournament

On the same day as the final table of the longstanding Seniors tournament, the WSOP will kick-off the inaugural Super Seniors tournament, a $1,000 buy-in tournament open to anyone aged 65 and older – the Seniors tournament is open to players aged 50 and older. The timing of this event is impeccable, as it now gives anyone in town specifically for the Seniors tournament to stick around a few extra days and play a second event.

DraftKings 50/50 tournament

This is my absolute favorite tournament for two reasons. First, I love the 50/50 structure, as it brings a completely new payout dynamic to the WSOP. It also makes for a tournament where a lot of people walk away from the table feeling like a winner.

More importantly, I love the DraftKings sponsorship of the event, which is perhaps a harbinger of where poker tournaments are heading – towards mainstream sponsorships and hopefully, eventually, money added tournaments thanks to these new sponsorships.

Lower price points are long overdue

I have never even considered playing in a World Series of Poker tournament.

A $1,000 buy-in isn’t out of my price-point, but it’s an amount of money that I would rather spend in other ways than taking a flyer in a massive field No Limit Holdem tournament. But a $500 event, or even a $777 event, I would consider playing.

And in 2015 the WSOP is offering me both price points. There is the $565 Colossus and the $777 Lucky 7’s tournament.

You might be thinking, what’s the difference between $500 or $777 and $1,000, but people with a similar amount of disposable income to myself will completely understand this. For those that don’t get it, all you need to do is head to a WSOPC tournament and talk to the players who enter the $300 and $500 tournaments but don’t play the $1,500 Main Event. Ask these players how many of them would go to Vegas to play in a $1k WSOP event and how many would do the same to play in the $500 event. I think you’d be surprised how many would be willing to play two $500 tournaments but not a single $1,000 tournament.

There is simply a mental block that occurs at $1,000.

I absolutely love that the WSOP is lowering their price point in certain tournaments, making them far more attractive to recreational players like myself. Reason being, some of these players will cash for what is to them significant money, and many of these players will likely extend their stay and play in other tournaments, or plan return trips to the WSOP in future years.

An online tournament

On top of lower price points and the individual tournament sponsorship, another sign of where poker is heading is the addition of the first ever online bracelet – Event #64, a two-day, $1,000 buy-in NLHE event that will take place on WSOP.com.

It’s just such a great move by the WSOP.

Another notable change

Amid all of these efforts to expand their base and bring in new sponsors, the WSOP also gave the pro players something they have been clamoring for: More chips. The WSOP has Increased the starting chip amounts in a number of tournaments:

$1,000 buy-in: 5,000 starting chips (increase of 66% over 2014) – 100 big blinds

$1,500 buy-in: 7,500 starting chips (increase of 66% over 2014) – 150 big blinds

$2,500 buy-in: 12,500 starting chips (increase of 66% over 2014) – 167 big blinds

$3,000 buy-in: 15,000 starting chips (increase of 66% over 2014) – 200 big blinds

$5,000 buy-in: 25,000 starting chips (increase of 66% over 2014) – 250 big blinds

I’m generally not a fan of slower structures, but with all of the other changes I think it adds a bit of balance between recreational and professional players.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve is veteran of the the poker industry, first as a player and now as a writer focusing mainly on the regulated U.S. markets and the politics of poker. Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveRuddock and at Google+.

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