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Daniel Negreanu: World Series Of Poker Main Event Shouldn't Have $10 Million Guaranteed Top Prize

Poker Pro Says That The Event Should Have Flatter Payout Structure


Next year will mark the second year in a row that the World Series of Poker is guaranteeing a $10 million payday for the person who wins the $10,000 buy-in main event that begins in early July.

In November, Swedish poker pro Martin Jacobson outlasted nearly 6,700 players to take the lion’s share of the $62,820,200 prize pool. The main event in 2014 did increase by more than 500 players compared to 2013, and the guarantee might have played a role.

It was the first time that main event participation increased year-over-year since online poker’s Black Friday in April 2011, but the sample size for that data is admittedly small. Online poker, albeit limited, returning to Nevada, as well as Full Tilt funds being returned to thousands of players early this year, might have played bigger roles in 2014’s attendance.

Poker Hall of Fame member Daniel Negreanu is pleased with the uptick, but he thinks that the main event would be more successful if the WSOP didn’t have a big guarantee up top, but rather guaranteed that all those who make the final table earn at least $1 million, in addition to the WSOP perhaps paying out more people who make it deep.

Here’s a look at Negreanu’s Tweets from over the weekend.

The last time ninth place earned at least $1 million at the WSOP was in 2006, when the top prize was $12 million. Though, that year, the runner-up received $6.1 million, a kind of disparity between first and second that wasn’t seen again until this year. For comparison: When Ryan Riess won the main event in 2013 for $8.36 million, Jay Farber received about $5.1 million, which was roughly what Felix Stephensen received after Jacobson took $10 million.

Here’s a look at the main event payouts since 2006:

2006: 8,773 players, $12 million to first
2007: 6,358 players, $8.25 million to first
2008: 6,844 players, $9.15 million to first
2009: 6,494 players, $8.54 million to first
2010: 7,319 players, $8.94 million to first
2011: 6,865 players, $8.71 million to first
2012: 6,598 players, $8.52 million to first
2013: 6,352 players, $8.36 million to first
2014: 6,683 players, $10 million to first

Do you agree with Negreanu? Let us know in the comments section below.



over 6 years ago

In my opinion I would agree that flatter payout structure would benefit poker as a whole not just the world series.

Was there a difference this year between Van Hoof, and the rest of the final 5? Perhaps some of them are slightly better, but does that mean that difference is to the tune of 7 million dollars? Not a chance. In my opinion, Should be top 20% or maybe even top 23 to 25% receiving a double up, or near to it, and a gradual increase all the way up the line to the final table, with the champion and receiving roughly 3.5 to 4 million for first. (these are rough numbers).

This would change the meta game entirely, and I think it would be a very good change, and almost certainly would bring more players to the field.


over 6 years ago

A 20% payout structure with 9th guaranteeing $1,000,000 would be ideal for me (semi serious player who plays in 3 to 5 smaller WSOP events a year but has never played in the Main).


over 6 years ago

The Main Event is a basically a made for TV stunt so whatever helps that is what they will do.


over 6 years ago

Agree 100%. Should be a MUCH flatter payout. So much of that big prize money never re-enters the poker economy. Before you know it, the poker tournament well will run dry.

I'd also recommend getting rid of payout tiers/jumps and make every place payout a slight increase over the previous. Then you could get rid of hand for hand play and payout bubble scenarios. Those really slow down the action and are quite annoying in the big field tourneys.


over 6 years ago

The very reason for hand-for-hand play is to ensure that players are paid in proper order; by making every place payout an increase over the previous you make hand-for-hand play necessary from the payout bubble to the tournament's conclusion, else there will surely be many a protest even at a 200-player daily tournament.

Hand-for-hand play = necessary evil.


over 6 years ago

I asked my wife and here's my response: I'm 99.99998% sure the reason I don't play the Main Event is the $10,000 entry fee and she "suggests" that's an unreasonable amount of money to play a silly poker tournament. 0.00001% is because you're in Las Vegas for eight full days of poker before you're getting a sniff of the final table, and yes, 0.00001% is because the ninth place finisher makes less than $1,000,000. It's like saying you don't buy the 2014 Rolls Royce Wraith for $238,000 plus tax is because it's only got two doors.


over 6 years ago

If you are 99.99998% likely to never play because the buy in, do you really think he's talking about people like you?

Also, if you are so unlikely to play, and don't care if making the FT gets you $1MM, or if you have a better shot at min cashing, then I highly doubt you care anything about the $10MM first prize anyway.


over 6 years ago

Sounds like this has nothing to do w/ attracting players but more so for increasing TV ratings for the November 9 broadcast. Negreanu makes the point that ""Make the WSOP final table, become a millionaire."Better tag line then "Beat 8000 players, win $10 million." Easier sell guys it's not close" - but for a TV audience, "One of these players will will walk away with $10M" sounds much more interesting to watch than "All of these players have already won $1M." The money is in the TV revenues, not in the number of participants. People who run the WSOP's goal, just like any other business people is to maximize profit - not to keep players happy. They seem to know what they're doing.


over 6 years ago

Way better concept to guarantee a milli fr making the November nine,if you made it thru seven days and 8000 players,you deserve to get paid a mil.


over 6 years ago

Sounds like a great idea.


over 6 years ago

Simple obvious formula that is good for players, TV, and pros:

Guaranteed 10 million for 1st, 5 mill for 2nd, 3 million for 3rd, continued drop toward 9th that pays 1 million!
Also guarantee payout to 1000 players! Expect 7000+ so almost 15% paid. It's not 20% that some people suggest, but it is a 50% increase from 10%! And it leaves more money for the higher tier, so both ends win. Plus, the '1000 player payout' looks attractive in an ad!
In order for this to work (1000 players cash and 1st to 9th is 10-1 Million), the min cash will only be 15k and a very infrequent minimal steady payout climb until reaching approximately 100-150 players; after that the jumps are more frequent and higher naturally.
A 15k has been done before and the pros and regulars never complained. It will be more important to pay only 15k if you want 1000 people cashing while keeping the top 9 at 1-10 Million! (and for those who feel 15k not enough, its a 5k win for the marathon and an additional 10k payback for you to try again the next year, so don't complain... be happy it's not a winner take all scenario or final table take all scenario LOL)
Here's the best part >>> the hours will be far less than the marathon you see the past several years! Why? Three reasons: First, you will see more players risking play (before the money) to gain a big stack when reaching the money, because at 1000 players they'll still need to reach 100 players before any decent money is made.
More frequent calculated risks by many, many players means more knockouts faster than normal for the first days leading up to the money.
Also, this will cause a bigger variance between big and small stacks whereby the increased risk takers (that didn't get knocked out) are building huge stacks (and a lot of them), and that means a larger disparity than usual between big and small stacks thereby leaving many 'smaller than usual' small stacks and that means quicker 'small stack' knockouts (too short to nurse for that long and the tiny stack are forced to take bigger risks to double up = more knockouts).
Secondly, when 1000 players reach the money, the players will drop at an faster pace than the fast pace we've seen in past years, because people will be taking bigger risks (again) to gain chip leverage knowing that the bigger money is extremely far away still, plus the money jumps between 1000 to 100 are so tiny compared to past years that people will not slow down much at those bubbles prior to each tiny money jump.
Thirdly, play from 100 to 9 will definitely speed up because the chip variance from big to small will be much broader than past years (same as first reason) and risk taking will be bigger to build chip leverage for the final table (same as second reason).
I believe the only time the game will slow down is at the 18 player mark, whereby 18 to 9 players takes longer than past years because short and medium stacks are more prone to nurse their stacks to reach the 'final nine' because of the huge jump from 500k (for 10th-12th) to 1 Million for ninth.
However, this is only a small period of slowdown compared to the complete time it takes to go from 7000 to 9, meaning that more than a day of play will be saved going from 7000 to 18, and an increase of 1-3 hours will occur when going from 18 to 9.
This keeps the high end happy (TV for the 1 Mill and 10 Mill promo, and pro players that believe in high payouts for top tier).
This keeps the low end happy (50% increase in number of players paid).
This shortens the marathon a bit so they reach the final table in 6 days and not 7, plus they reach the money a little faster. May not be enough of a change for Doyle to want to enter the marathon, but it's a significant difference for most of the drained players who make it very deep!
And for the whiners who are against 15k at 1000 player min cash and only 25k at around the 300 player mark (my estimate of the curve), you need only stare at the 9 seven digit prizes, along with your payback of 10k to try again the year after and your additional reward of 5k to blow in between that time.


over 6 years ago

$10 million for 1st, $1 million for 9th, and $20,000 for last-cash is very feasible, especially if WSOP management can see its way clear to do away with a straight percentage-of-the-prize-pool prize list (which I realize may be easier said than done due to regulatory constraints; I'm assuming that it's a simple matter of the whole thing being based on a transparent formula published well in advance for all to see and basing "very feasible" on having run the 2014 numbers myself).