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Poker Pros React To World Series of Poker Ending November Nine Era

Hellmuth, Negreanu and Other Big Names Sound Off On WSOP's Big Final Table Change


On Monday, May 15 the World Series of Poker announced that the November Nine experiment was coming to an end after nine years. In 2017, the WSOP main event champion will be determined in July, which will be the first time that play hasn’t been halted at the final table and delayed since Jerry Yang won back in 2007.

The November Nine format was implemented for many reasons, including an attempt to increase television ratings. At first it seemed to work, with viewership growing nearly 50 percent for the first November Nine final table. In recent years the final table broadcasts have drawn stagnant or decreasing ratings, and for that reason and several others, a change has been made.

As one would expect from such news, the biggest names in the game have plenty of thoughts regarding this announcement, including the likes of Poker Hall of Famers Mike Sexton, Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.

The November Nine format was first introduced in 2008 in an attempt to address the fact that ESPN’s television broadcasts would only end up showing who won poker’s biggest event months after the fact, which negated the immediacy for hardcore poker fans because they would already know who came out on top. The idea was to set the final table, and then let the televised episodes familiarize fans with the players over the intervening months, so that there was more excitement for the final table come November.

The format did have a few drawbacks, though. Plenty of detractors said that the halt in play disrupts the flow for the players. The layoff of several months also allows less skilled players to hire some of poker’s top players to coach them and help close the gap on their tougher opponents, changing the dynamic of the final table. Also, the question was often raised, “What would happen if a player was injured, killed or otherwise made unable to play in the interim?” Now all of these concerns with the November Nine format are gone, as there will only be a one-day break in play after the final table is set to hype up the last nine players standing.

While plenty of fans of poker and top players esposed their opinions after the news broke, who would better to listen to for thoughts on the November Nine than players who experienced the format over the years? 2013 WSOP main event champ Ryan Riess, the player he defeated heads-up Jay Farber, and 2015 fourth-place finisher Max Steinberg took to Twitter to sound off with their thoughts on the changes.

ESPN and Poker Central will be broadcasting the main event live (on delay) from day 1, and while there will be plenty of changes this year, a lot of things will stay the same, including the professionals who will help present the WSOP’s coverage.

The World Series of Poker is now only a few weeks away from getting underway, and of course Card Player will be there to bring you in-depth coverage including news, videos, podcasts and more.