Monday, May 05, 2008

Will the WSOP Ever Be the Same?

In a stunning move of corporate greed, Harrah's Entertainment has decided to reformat the main event of the World Series of Poker so that the final table, determined in July, will not be played out until November. This is almost universally thought of as a terrible decision by the players, except for the celebrity pros of course, who stand to benefit tremendously from the hype and the publicity, especially if they are chosen to coach one of the final table participants.

There are a ton of reasons why this is a bad idea. One that concerns me the most is the safety of the participants. With millions of dollars on the line, who is to say that some unscrupulous type might not pay someone to make one or more of his opponents "disappear?" It sounds dramatic, but things like this happen in other countries all the time, eliminating the competition, as it were, with a lot less money at stake.

Here are the main reasons why this idea is a disaster and how Harrah's addresses them.

1. Harrah's is getting the "float" from all the entry fee money while waiting for the main event to finish.

Harrahs: The money will be put into an interest-bearing account and the full amount of that account will be distributed to the players when the time comes.

2. The players may have only been able to afford one trip to Vegas this year.

Harrahs: All players will receive ninth place money once the final table is set. In addition, sponsorship deals made in the interim are likely.

3. The players' safety may be at risk.

Harrahs: Each of the players at the final table will be followed closely by television cameras and documentarians up until the final. This close scrutiny should protect them from harm.

4. The players may collude.

Harrahs: See above. Also, Harrah's will take every anti-collusion step they deem possible and effective.

5. A player may die in the intervening months.

Harrahs: A player could just as easily die in the day between the final table being set and the final table commencing under the current format.

I still don't like it, but the chances of my being at the final table of the WSOP this year are negligible, so I guess I'll just sit back and see what happens.

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