More chips. Better structure.
Those four words will be music to the ears of many poker players who have criticized the World Series of Poker in the past for not providing enough starting chips and for not allowing enough play in the later stages of its tournaments.
Jack Effel, the tournament director of the WSOP, has confirmed that players will receive more starting chips in 2009 than in any previous year in WSOP history.
“We’ve tripled the chips (in relation to the buy-in) for every event,” said Effel. “Now some people might say, ‘Oh, you must’ve eliminated levels.’ On the contrary, we’ve added levels.”
Several events — from the $10,000 world championship events to the $1,500 no-limit hold’em events — will feature new levels in 2009 to allow for slower-moving blinds.
Effel said the tough economic times played into the tournament organizers’ decision to add more starting chips, but said that the increase in starting chips will most likely be a permanent change.
“It’s a tough economy, so we wanted to make sure our poker players were getting the most value,” said Effel. “But this is about making the tournaments better for the longevity.”
Shane Schleger, a popular poker blogger and a regular on the tournament trail, has played his fair share of WSOP events. Over the past few years, Schleger estimates he’s played between 60-70 WSOP events. Although he’s hesitant to call the changes a major success, since they don’t alter the duration of the levels, he sees the changes as potentially very good for the game.
“Anything that brings more recreational players into the event, I’m all for it,” said Schleger. “It is more fun to play with more chips, but it doesn’t make as big of a difference as other aspects of the structure.”
Schleger said the two other essential factors in making up a good structure are the duration of the levels and the level jumps.
For the 2009 WSOP, the duration of the levels (60 minutes in most tournaments) has not changed, but there have been a few new levels added to address some of the 2008 level-jump shortcomings.
Each player in the main event will start off with 30,000 in chips (as compared to 20,000 in chips in 2008). As of right now, the blinds structure is scheduled to mirror 2008, with 120-minute levels.
$40,000 No-Limit Hold’em Event
In this new event, players will start with 120,000 in chips. However, blinds will begin at 200-400 with a 50 ante and increase every 60 minutes.
$10,000 World Championship Events
In 2009, there are 10 $10,000-to-enter world championship events, including the main event. The other nine are in seven-card stud, mixed games, Omaha eight-or-better, deuce-to-seven draw lowball, heads-up no-limit hold’em, limit hold’em, seven-card stud eight-or-better, pot-limit Omaha, and pot-limit hold’em.
While there are now 30,000 in chips to begin all of these tournaments, they have kept the same 60-minute levels as they had in 2008 — with the exception of the main event, which has 120-minute levels.
In the seven-card stud world championship, while it begins with limits of 200-400 (just like last year), it skips the 250-500 level that was featured in 2008 and moves directly to 300-600.
In the mixed event, however, it appears as though all previous levels remain from 2008, with the addition of a new level in 2009. A 18,000-36,000 limits level was added in 2009. In 2008, the tournament jumped from 15,000-30,000 to 20,000-40,000.
In Omaha eight-or-better, the 18,000-36,000 limits level was also added, while keeping all of the previous levels in 2008.
In deuce-to-seven lowball, there was no $10,000 equivalent in 2008, so comparisons are not possible.
In the heads-up no-limit hold’em event, heads-up specialists will be pleased to see the exact same structure as they saw last year (with 20-minute rounds). But, like all other $10,000 tournaments, players will receive 30,000 in starting chips in 2009.
In the limit hold’em event, the 18,000-36,000 limits level (with blinds of 9,000-18,000) was added for the 2009 version.
Comparisons to the seven-card stud eight-or-better championship are not applicable since there was only a $5,000 world championship in 2008.
In pot-limit Omaha, there is a similar blinds structure as there was in 2008 (apart from the starting chips).
In the pot-limit hold’em event, the tournament structure also appears to be unchanged from 2008 besides the starting chips.
$50,000 H.O.R.S.E. Event
With 150,000 in starting chips in 2009, the blinds will start at 400-800, as opposed to 300-600 from last year. Levels will last 90 minutes. In 2008, players started with 100,000 in chips.
$1,000 No-Limit Hold’em Event (“Stimulus Special”)
In another new event to 2009, the $1,000 buy-in event will give players 3,000 in starting chips to match the World Series’ new “triple the buy-in” formula. This tournament’s structure will be similar to last year’s $1,500 no-limit hold’em events, but will also feature a 25-25 level to start off the tournament, as well as a 75-150 level. Last year’s $1,500 no-limit tourneys started at 25-50 and went from 50-100 to 100-200. Levels will last 60 minutes.
$1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Events
These popular tournaments will now give players 4,500 in starting chips (as opposed to 3,000 in 2008). Like the “Stimulus Special,” there will now be a 75-150 level, but the first level of blinds will be 25-50 (just as it was in 2008). However, the WSOP has added a 1,200-2400 with a 300 ante level (Level 14). Previously, the tournament went from 1,000-2,000 with a 300 ante to 1,500-3,000 with a 400 ante.
The Ladies and Seniors events will also feature the new 25-25 level to begin the tournament, while having its players start out with 3,000 in chips. Both tournaments will also have a 75-150 level that was not in place in 2008. Players will begin with 3,000 in chips.
The structure in many of the other events was also altered besides the starting chips, depending upon the tournament. In the $1,500 limit hold’em events, the blinds actually move slightly quicker in the early rounds so that they may slow down in the later rounds and provide more play.
To view the 2009 tournament structures in these events or any others, go to Harrah’s World Series of Poker website. As of 5 p.m. PST on Monday, some but not all of the event structures have been updated. The official announcement of the structures is expected later this week.
The changes listed above are not yet official and by no means include all of the changes made to the the 2009 WSOP events.