The WPT have announced a high-roller tournament series called ‘Alpha8’ which will consist of large buy-in tournament events all over the World. The series will begin in August 2014.
There have been some interesting tweets flying around regarding the announcement. The series is to be televised globally on Fox Sports 1, involving $100k+ buy in events at several stops including Europe, South Africa, Asia, and North America. The first stop will be in Florida on August 26th 2014. On August 27th, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open Main Event tournament will take place, with $10m guaranteed. Naturally, the final table will be streamed on August 28th.
There was somewhat of a Twitter backlash regarding the announcement, with the more notable tweets coming from the always-entertaining David ‘Doc Sands’ Sands (@Doc_Sands), infamous NBA gambler Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob), and poker commentator Olivier Busquet (@olivierbusquet).
It all started when Volugaris quipped ‘Just when you thought poker players weren’t already going broke fast enough, the WPT introduces @WPT_Alpha8’.
Busquet’s general opinion seemed to be that it would ‘enrich a small community of already profitable players’ but still felt that it would be good for poker on the whole. Voulgaris disagreed with this view, fearing that many players involved couldn’t overcome the high rake and travel.
Talk of the WPT covering the players with things such as no rake and free rooms ensued and Voulgaris added further humour into the back and fourths by adding ‘not to mention the free taxi service within Monaco’, Again reiterating his view on the ridiculous expenses to go with the gigantic buy-ins.
The Doc intervened at this point, stating that the WPT and Fox ‘esentially gets free talent for the show’ pointing out the fact that the same 10 or 15 pros would most likely pop up on the broadcasts at each stop. He then made the point that ‘traditional TV shows pay actors aka the talent’ running the pros in parallel with the job of a conventional actor. However, he then went on to say ‘In this case the talent is paying higher than normal rake’ in reference to the large rake that was proposed for the Alpha8 Series. He also stated that he thought the WPT would ‘rely on same group [of players] and offer no compensation.’
After the Doc got that off his chest, Busquet posed the question ‘isn’t national exposure valuable?’ to which the man that is responsible for ½ of @3030Sports replied ‘w/no US online poker what is the value of TV exposure?’
He has a point Olivier.
Sands whole heartedly agreed with this point, and went onto say that it was costly to him that they were going to have such in depth coverage of every $100k+ event. His reasoning for this lay with the tweet ‘information about my play is disseminated quickly’. This is slowly becoming more and more apparent for high rolling poker players today, as they are constantly being streamed and their hands, lines, and general style of play scrutinised.
Some may argue that these players are never going to live in an ideal world where poker players buying into tournaments for amounts in excess of $100k will be allowed to get on with it in a little room with nobody around.
Perhaps the most notable exchange of words in the whole conversation was when Voulgaris pointed out that he felt that if players are stumping up $100k of their own hard earned cash, then they’ve ‘earned the right to call a few of the shots.’ This was in reference to the PCA Super High Roller final table which David ‘Doc Sands’ Sands was a part of, in which the commentators seemed to be annoyed at him taking a long time when making decisions.
The Doc’s reply to this was ‘The expectation that I should speed up my game to enhance viewer experience when millions are at stake is laughable’.
Sands hit the nail on the head here, and really brought the whole argument together. The idea that the people behind any of the TV deals can treat players like objects for the purposes of viewing entertainment is absurd. The reality of the situation is that players are forking out hundreds of thousands of dollars to be part of these tournaments, and a hell of a lot more to actually attend the event. I think they deserve a little bit more respect when it comes to the goings on at the tables.
This also poses the other poignant question that’s being circulating for a little while now: Can the majority of professional poker players sustain the huge lifestyles they are portrayed to have?
The buy-in costs and expenses in modern poker seem to be taking its toll on more players than you might think.