The 2015 World Series of Poker promises to be one of the best in history. Thanks to key changes and additions to the schedule, this year’s WSOP will shatter records and help to grow the game of poker as a whole.
There are years that I look at the upcoming WSOP schedule and find it difficult to build excitement. This is not one of those years. Poker players of all skill levels and disciplines will find something to get excited about on this schedule. Below are three reasons why the 2015 WSOP will be the best ever.
Here a Gimmick, There a Gimmick
I never thought I’d be an advocate for “gimmick” poker tournaments but I’ll give credit where it’s due. This year’s schedule has several tournaments that are a bit gimmicky but are perfect to draw in players of all skill levels.
The $565 Colossus is a great event to kick off the insanity known as the World Series of Poker. For two days, the largest field in tournament history will descend upon the Rio and will likely crush the $5 million guarantee. If you’ve never played a WSOP event, this would be an excellent way to get your feet wet.
The $777 Lucky 7’s NL Event is another low buy-in bracelet event that is great for first timers. I also like the placement of this event close to the Main Event. Draw in one last monster field prior to the Main Event with the hopes of some of them flowing over into the Big Dance. It would be awesome to see someone parlay $777 into a Main Event seat and then a seat at the November Nine.
Anyone that’s followed me over the last few years knows that I’m not a fan of non-open field events. However, the popularity of the Seniors Event over the last few years has made me a believer in the concept. That’s why I’m happy to see the addition of the Super Seniors NL Event this year. It will be great to see players 65 and older compete for a bracelet. I could see this event posting a solid field and boasting a final table with some of the older greats of the game.
The $1,500 DraftKings 50/50 is another great event for first timers. Half the field will receive a payday and a great brag point on one’s poker resume. While just “min-cashing” is usually not seen as a big deal, min-cashing at the World Series of Poker is a different story.
Of course, a couple of excellent gimmick events from prior years are returning in the Monster Stack and the Millionaire Maker. The success of these events led to the WSOP taking a chance on the aforementioned tournaments. Like them or hate them, gimmick events draw in players and that’s good for poker.
Oh wait; did I forget the online bracelet event? Not hardly. This is an event that I have been looking forward to seeing since Nevada drafted online poker regulations. While I would have loved to see New Jersey and Nevada hold a joint online bracelet event, this should be a solid start. Realistically, this event could develop into one of the largest online poker tournaments in the history of WSOP.com. Next, maybe we can convince officials to spread some mixed event online bracelet events.
Better Brush Up on Your Mixed Games
When I first played at the World Series of Poker in 2006, the big news of the series was the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Event. For the first time in history, we had a true test of poker ability for those with the bankroll to afford it. Little did we know at the time how much the popularity of mixed games would grow.
Now, it is imperative that you know multiple forms of poker to be able to compete at an elite level at the World Series of Poker. This year’s schedule highlights that fact. Dual price points are again available for most variants of poker, but the big changes come in some of the mixed tournaments.
The $50,000 Poker Players Championship format has been changed to 10-Game after a couple successful years with an 8-Game format. This year, NL 2-7 and Badugi have been added to the rotation to give a better balance between stud, flop and draw games.
The event I’m most looking forward to railing is the $10,000 Dealer’s Choice Event. For the first time in history, 19 different variants will be spread in a poker tournament. Some of the more exotic variants such as Big O, Badacy and Badeucy are included. What I love most is that some old school variants are in the mix such as Five Card Draw, A-5 Lowball and Stud Hi-Lo Regular. Stud Hi-Lo Regular is a true split pot game with Razz rules for low. In my opinion, this event will be the true test of poker ability this summer.
The Race for 1,000
When WSOP officials announced they were eliminating the $10 Million guarantee in lieu of paying 1,000, some pros balked at the idea and would still prefer to keep with the status quo. Personally, I believe this is an excellent idea to bring in new players and keep players coming back.
Paying ten percent of the field is fine for your average live poker tournament but this is the World Series of Poker Main Event. For many players, their ultimate poker goal is just to play in the event. For many, they put up the $10k knowing all they will walk away with is a story and a few SWAG items.
With the new payout structure, players have a new goal to shoot for. While many will still walk away with only a story, there will be 317 more players this year walking away with at least a $5,000 profit. While that profit is hardly life-changing, it may be a turning point in the life of that poker player.
Next year rolls around and that same player decides, “I made $5,000 last year. Why not try and do better this year.” That player returns along with multiple others that benefited from the expanded payout. Other players see the new payout structure and think “I can make the final 1,000,” and they register to play the Main Event.
The reality is that pro players come and go in poker. Pros have never been the focus of growth in the World Series. Amateurs are needed to keep the WSOP growing and that includes the Main Event. This expanded payout will bring in new players and keep some coming back for more. If you want dead money in the pool, then this is a way to bring them to the tables.