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Thoughts on this year’s structure changes at the WSOP

by The Poker Academy |  Published: Jun 11, '15


Every year there are many structure changes to the WSOP. Every year all the players come out anyway and play. The WSOP staff listens to all the feedback they get from the players and does their best to improve the tournament series for the next year.

This year is no different. They added starting chips so that play was a little deeper at the beginning. The new structures this year in the big bet games are getting an overwhelming positive response. The new structures in the limit events, not so much….

Over the last couple years, the WSOP has sort of cheated their own one hour level policy by playing to levels of the same limit in limit tournaments to make the play at the start more meaningful. Then they have added turbos (30 minute levels) and hypers (20 minute levels).

At the end of the day, the WSOP has the goal of creating 3 day tournaments, which I love. It is one of the things I always looked forward to about the WSOP. You come in one day, play that day and are in or near the money. By the end of day two, you are at or near the final table. On day three, someone wins.

This type of structure always gets people to be excited everyday for the possibilities. The dream is alive every morning when you wake up. Today I might cash in a WSOP event. By tomorrow I might make the Final Table. It is all right there and tangible.

Unfortunately, this year, most of the limit events have lost this excitement. They have turned into drawn out affairs. As I write this blog, I am part of the 40% of the $1500 HORSE field that is returning for day 2 today. We probably won’t reach the money today. In both limit hold’em events so far, I played into level 16, which is the sixth 1 hour level on day two, without cashing. Both events made the money after the dinner break. When you combine this with the structure of a 4 o’clock start, it is a long long two days.

The 4 o’clock tournaments run with ten 1-hour levels, featuring 15 minute breaks every 2 hours. So they start at 4pm and end at 3am. There is no dinner break. It takes 2 minutes each way to the poker kitchen or the bathroom, so the breaks are closer to 10 minutes effectively. By 10 o’clock no fresh food is being prepared in the poker kitchen, you just have refrigerator units with things that were prepared early in the day. If you want to eat, you either have to scarf something down in one of those small windows, or eat at the poker table. Usually, by the end of the day you are beat. Then you have an 11 hour turnaround. Drive home, unwind, sleep, have breakfast, deal with whatever you may need to on a personal level, and then head back for 6 more hours of poker before the dinner on day 2. This turns these tournaments into a grind. I hope that the WSOP staff can find a way to make these events flow better next year. For starters, I would vote for 9 levels on day one and a one hour dinner break at some point…

I do have some useful thoughts for the structure for the championship events. Since the WSOP is calling these championships, we should be able to think outside the box a little on the structures. I think they should all have nine 1-hours levels on day 1 (with a dinner break), eight 75-minute levels on day 2, and 90-minute levels on day 3. If you eliminated all the double levels on day 1, the new day 1 would end at what is now level 14. Most of these tournaments have reached the money in the level 17-19 range this year. So you would still be bringing back 1/4 to 1/3 of the field. Then, you would reach the money half way through day 2 and have significantly more play on day 2 and 3 when you are in the money. Just my two cents worth….

Rep Porter

Rick Fuller and Rep Porter are content creators and instructors at

Fuller has been a professional poker player for more than a decade. He has made four final tables at the WSOP, two in no-limit Hold’em, one in razz, and one in Omaha eight-or-better. Rick is a gifted communicator and teacher, actively involved in poker education for the past decade, teaching poker to thousands of students around the world. A former Police Officer, Rick is an adventure junkie, a private pilot, a skydiver with hundreds of jumps, and a certified SCUBA diver. He currently resides in Washington State.

Porter is a two-time WSOP bracelet winner with over $2.4 million in tournament winnings. He won his first bracelet in 2008 in six-handed no-limit hold’em and his second bracelet in 2011 in razz. He also finished 12th in the 2013 Main Event, taking home $573,204. Rep is a graduate of the University of Washington and worked as an equity options trader. Rep has played poker professionally for 17 years.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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