Harrah’s To Consider Hosting More $1,000 Events in 2010 WSOP
Immense Success of Stimulus Special Credited as the Reason for Consideration
Robert Shrestha flew down from Toronto to play in the Stimulus Special. A recreational poker player for the past six years, he was ready to give the World Series of Poker a try for the first time.
“I figured I’d have a good time and cross it off the bucket list,” said Shrestha, who entered the 6,000-person field yesterday. Asked about the significance of the $1,000 buy-in, he said it made all of the difference in his decision to play.
“If it was anything larger, I wouldn’t have played,” said Shrestha.
It’s impossible to know just how many players in the monstrous field came out specifically because of the reduced rate, but it’s likely that hundreds if not thousands fit that description. Last year’s first $1,500 no-limit hold’em event attracted 3,929 players. This year’s $1,000 open event welcomed 6,000 dreamers, the largest live non-main event tournament in history — and it could’ve had so many more.
“The fact of the matter is: if we had three starting days, we would’ve had 9,000 players and we would’ve had the largest live tournament ever,” said Seth Palansky, WSOP communications director.
The unprecedented success of the event, which offered two starting days, has caused Harrah’s to reconsider the buy-in amount for its most affordable events at the World Series.
“This may be the event that makes us consider some of our buy-in levels,” said Palansky. “We need to make sure we hit the price point to get as many new entrants into poker as we can.”
Palanksy told Card Player yesterday that Harrah’s might consider making $1,000 the new lowest buy-in level for open bracelet events instead of the $1,500 tournaments that currently populate much of the schedule.
“I think that’s a smart way to go,” said Palanksy. “There are a lot smarter people than me who ultimately make these decisions, but I think it’s something we really have to look at more seriously.”
Of the 57 WSOP bracelet events offered this summer, 18 of them are at the $1,500 level. This was the first World Series since 2006 that a non-rebuy open event featured a $1,000 price tag. The ladies and seniors events regularly have a buy-in of $1,000.
The Players Advisory Council (PAC), made up of prominent poker players in the industry, gives its input to Harrah’s when the company is considering making changes to the World Series.
Barry Greenstein, a PAC member who played in the Stimulus Special, said he likes the new event but is not sure there should be more than one a year.
“I think it’s a real nice inclusion to the World Series because it gets a lot of people involved,” said Greenstein. “This is good to have once in a while, but if you made them all $1,000 — there’s not enough room and not enough time to get the events played through.”
Greenstein mentioned that the large fields affect other tournaments on the schedule, and referenced the fact that the $1,500 events already attract a good turnout.
Some pros, however, approve of changing all $1,500 events to $1,000 events.
“I actually think it’s a good idea,” said J.C. Tran, who won a $1,500 no-limit hold’em event last year. “It’ll bring in a lot of new faces.”
Tran said that for so many casual players, $1,500 is simply out of their price range.
“For a lot of guys, $1,500 is a lot of money,” said Tran. “But for the guys who play recreationally, they’re willing to put up $1,000 for a World Series event.”
Tran said that if he had his way, he’d make the tournaments a little more “top three heavy” so that the winner of a $1,000 event could conceivable get a $1 million payday, a potentially huge incentive for a small-stakes poker player.
The winner of this year’s $1,000 open event will earn more than $750,000 — or about 14.25 percent of the total prize pool after rake — for his or her efforts, depending on the final number of entrants.
The WSOP is far from finalizing its 2010 schedule, but based on the success of event No. 4 this year, it seems probable that a least one and possibly a few open $1,000 events will return in future years.
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