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While doing some research for an upcoming piece, I made a realization about the 2017 WSOP schedule. Pot Limit Hold’em is one again not being offered on the schedule. Last year’s series was devoid of PL Hold’em and it appears that the removal of the event is now a permanent one.

Poker is an ever-evolving game and the WSOP has made great strides to keeping up with the changes in the game. Unfortunately, that sometimes means saying goodbye to certain games.

2016 Ended a 24-Year Run of PL Hold’em on Schedule

The first ever Pot-Limit Hold’em bracelet event was held at the 1992 World Series of Poker and was won by Kenny Duggan. It was his first and only WSOP final table of his poker career. He bested a final table that included Jason Lester, Phil Hellmuth and Hans Lund. Duggan bested former WPT Champion Noli Francisco for the title.

That event began a 24-year run of PL Hold’em events at the WSOP. Over the years, some of the biggest names in the game have taken down a PLH title. Among those names are Jason Lester, Nenad Medic, Allen Cunningham, John Gale, Johnny Chan, David “DevilFish” Ulliott and the aforementioned Phil Hellmuth.

The 2015 WSOP was the last time PL Hold’em was on the schedule. Two events were on that schedule. Paul Michaelis won the $1,500 PL Hold’em event and Shaun Deeb took the $10k Championship. Unless the event is readded in the future, Deeb will be the last-ever PL Hold’em champion.

Why Remove PL Hold’em?

One would think that a long-time staple of the World Series of Poker would continue to have at least one event on the schedule, but PL Hold’em has been a bit of an odd duck the last few years.

While Daniel Negreanu called the game the most skillful version of Texas Hold’em, that hasn’t translated into popularity. Players fall on one side of the spectrum or another when it comes to Hold’em. They either love Limit Hold’em or they love NL Hold’em. You don’t find too many players speaking out in support of PL Hold’em.

Quite the contrary. Over the previous few years leading up to its removal, quite a number of players spoke out against the event and wondered why it was even still offered. With other variants increasing in popularity, such as PL Omaha Hi-Lo, decisions had to be made and PL Hold’em got the axe.

Some may wonder why PL Hold’em would be cut when certain other variants like Seven Card Stud draw worse in attendance. The key difference is the type of player that the games draw.

For games like Stud, Stud 8 and others, there’s a particular type of player that enjoys those events. There are many that comes out specifically to play those few events and that crowd is fiercely loyal to the game.

Personally, I wouldn’t event attend a poker series if it didn’t offer something other than Hold’em. I’m also one of those that goes to the WSOP to play events other than NL.

However, I cannot think of a single player in my travels that went to the WSOP to play in PL Hold’em events. There are those that put PL Hold’em in the mix of their events but usually only if they weren’t deep in other events.

PL Hold’em just didn’t have the following and player loyalty to justify its continued existence on the WSOP schedule. Normally, I would call for the WSOP to keep their promise of offering a wide variety of poker variants but PL Hold’em has become such a dinosaur of poker games that I can understand its exclusion.

Does the Game Have a Future? Probably Only in Mixed Games

Is there a chance that PL Hold’em will return on the schedule? Based on the current dynamic of the WSOP, it’s highly unlikely. Looking at the schedule, you will notice a growing number of gimmick events and a shift towards more popular variants. This is done with the purpose of growing the game and PL Hold’em isn’t exactly a game that puts butts in seats.

With that said, the game isn’t completely extinct from the schedule, but it’s close. Looking at the 2017 schedule, PL Hold’em is offered as an option in Dealer’s Choice events. At present, that’s probably the only way the game is going to continue.

The only other option that could develop in the future is a mixed PL event. This year’s schedule already includes a “Big Bet” event, so there may be a chance a mixed PL event could develop.

Personally, I’d love to see a mixed PL event. A mix of PL Omaha, PL Omaha Hi-Lo, PL Hold’em and even PL Draw games could be added. It isn’t the same as having a standalone PL event, but it is a way to keep the game alive in a legitimate format other than hoping that someone picks the game in a Dealer’s Choice rotation.

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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