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Erik Seidel -- World Series of Poker Schedule 'A Little Bit Screwed Up'

Eight-time Bracelet Winner Says Current Schedule Has Major Flaws


Erik SeidelYesterday, 150 players ponied up $10,000 to compete in the seven-card stud championship. Erik Seidel, the eight-time WSOP bracelet winner, was one of those players. He failed to make day 2, but 85 others will return today to compete for $394,807 and a WSOP bracelet.

For someone with Seidel’s bankroll and well-rounded talent, you might think that he’d be overjoyed at the opportunity to play for his ninth bracelet against just 149 other players. After all, he’s won his bracelets in a variety of games — including both limit and no-limit hold’em, deuce-to-seven, pot-limit Omaha, and Omaha eight-or-better.

But Seidel sees this event more as a part of the problem than a personal opportunity.

“The schedule is a little bit screwed up now,” the Full Tilt pro told Card Player. “What happened is — if you play no-limit, which is the most popular game, you really don’t have that many opportunities to win a bracelet. It’s only really if you’re a limit player that you have a lot of opportunities. If you want to play a no-limit event, you have to play against thousands of people.”

Seidel’s statement may seem paradoxical to some mixed games players, who have decried the overwhelming addition of several small buy-in no-limit tournaments during the past few years — even disparagingly referring to the summer’s events as now being the World Series of No-Limit Hold’em.

In fact, of the 57 events that are offered in the 2010 WSOP, 27 of them are exclusively no-limit hold’em. Three mixed events also include no-limit hold’em as part of their tourneys (event No. 2: $50k players championship, event No. 44: $2,500 mixed hold’em, and event No. 48: $2,500 eight-game), which means that no-limit hold’em will be played in more than half of all bracelet events this summer.

But Seidel says it’s not just about the number of hold’em tournaments that are offered, it’s about the price points they are offered at.

Phil Hellmuth“I really think they need to look at changing the schedule. They need a high pot-limit Omaha/pot-limit hold’em event. And they need more high no-limit and pot-limit events,” said Seidel. “Take someone like Phil Hellmuth. What chance does he actually have to win a bracelet? It’s going to be very difficult for him. He’s got to get through thousands and thousands of people, and it’s going to take some kind of miracle for him to do it.”

The uncapped, open $1,500 no-limit hold’em events in 2009 attracted between 2,095 and 2,818 players per tournament last year (excluding shootouts and six-max tourneys). The $1k stimulus special seated an astounding 6,012 players in 2009, and the first $1,000 event of 2010 welcomed a field of 4,345. The first two $1,500 no-limit events of 2010 attracted 2,092 and 2,341 players, respectively.

To put some perspective on those massive turnouts, take a look at the numbers in the $10,000 buy-in events in 2009 (excluding the main event):

Event Number of Players
Seven card Stud 142
Eight-game 194
Omaha eight-or-better 179
No-limit 2-7 Draw Lowball 96
Heads-up NL Hold’em 256
Limit Hold’em 185
Seven card stud eight-or-better 164
Pot-limit Omaha 295
Pot-limit Hold’em 275

Combine the entire fields of those nine events, and it still doesn’t come close to a typical small buy-in no-limit hold’em field.

Seidel’s major beef is that if you’re looking for a manageable field and if you specialize in no-limit or pot-limit games (which most people do), you’re in a tough spot. He says the schedule really caters to the limit players.

“The schedule really favors limit players, I think, because there are a lot of limit players on the board. They’re all trying to rig it so they can win more bracelets,” said Seidel, laughing.

Howard LedererThe New York native makes an interesting point. Of the 14 members that sit on the WSOP’s Players Advisory Council, they have won only two no-limit hold’em bracelets combined (T.J. Cloutier in 2005 and Chris Ferguson in 2000). The PAC represents the players’ interests in the making of the WSOP schedule.

The PAC has plenty of big-name players — such as Daniel Negreanu, Annie Duke, Barry Greenstein, Howard Lederer, and Jennifer Harman — but that crew does seem to specialize in limit games. For the record, a number of these players have won bracelets in no-limit deuce-to-seven games, while Negreanu, Cloutier, and fellow PAC member Steve Zolotow have won pot-limit hold’em events. Greenstein has also won a pot-limit Omaha event.

The World Series is offering a $25,000 six-max event for no-limit hold’em players for the first time this year, something that may help address Seidel’s concerns. The WSOP hosted a $40,000 no-limit hold’em event last year to commemorate the 40th World Series, but tournament organizers have said in the past that there is a fear of cannibalizing the main event if they create too many high-priced, no-limit hold’em tournaments.

On the 2010 schedule, there are 12 events priced at $10,000 or higher — and thus ensuring themselves of modest fields, with the exception of the main event. Of those 12 events, there are four pot-limit or no-limit hold’em tournaments, one deuce to seven no-limit event, and one pot-limit Omaha event. The five others are limit events, and the remaining one is the Players Championship.

While that may not seem too out-of-balanced, the World Series also offers a number of modestly priced limit events — and those tournament don’t really attract that big of fields either.

Jeffrey LisandroJeffrey Lisandro made waves when he won three WSOP bracelets last summer — taking down a $1,500 seven-card stud event, the $10,000 seven-card stud eight-or-better event, and a $2,500 razz event. While the accomplishment is no doubt extraordinary, it is worth noting that he only beat out 837 competitors combined throughout his three tournaments.

“The no-limit events are the most popular events in the world,” said Seidel. “That’s what everyone wants to play, but during the World Series, you really don’t have a realistic chance of winning a no-limit event.”

That’s why Seidel, despite his affection for no-limit games, plans on playing all the high buy-in limit tournaments this summer. Bracelets have become the goal for tournament pros, and Seidel says the current schedule just doesn’t give no-limit players as fair of a chance as limit players of taking one down.

Follow all of the action at the seven card stud world championship and all of the 10k events with Card Player’s live updates.



over 11 years ago

So there should be events just to make guys like Seidel and Hellmuth happy? Just goes to prove no matter how you try to make people happy, someone is not. So change the whole system to make the few happy.


over 11 years ago

the reality of the situation is that they have made many changes over the past couple of years. erik, not everyone is going to like everything 100 percent. the fact of the matter is the new young players of this day and age are more skilled than in the old days....if you were playing against todays player, youd have maybe 2 bracelets if you are lucky.

my point is the landscape has changed. would you prefer it be like the old days? or do you like it now with all the freebies you get as a full tilt red pro? i would wager you are quite happy with the way things are now.


Alex Bolotin
over 11 years ago

lol at you all
Seidel is 100% right
Vast majority of the people play NL exclusively, and yet somehow every year WSOP Player of the Year is a mixed game player.
The system is definitely flawed, both with WSOP POY points and bracelets themselves. Steve Sung beat 6,000 people in a 1k NL, and Phil Ivey won his 6th bracelet by defeating 147 players in a 2500 2-7 NL Draw Lowball (who even knows how to play that game?), and these bracelets are valued the same? Doesn't make any sense.
I guess the solution for POY points is to include field size into the equation, and as far as bracelets, if you win one in a field less than 500, it should be made of copper.


over 11 years ago

You are right that the quality of play has gone way up, and the current schedule of a lot of low buy nl hold em events appeals to the masses, which is more important than what 15 pros think. One thing I wish they had was a nl omaha event. Is it just my home game that plays this type of omaha (I know it is not part of the 7-game)???


over 11 years ago

Ummm... what brings in the money? Case closed.

Hey, Stephen A. Murphy, care to elaborate on "deuce-to-seven draw and deuce-to-seven lowball"???


over 11 years ago

In some ways a fair point, there should be more higher buy in NL events, the main event has been flawed for years so adding higher buy in events doesn't affect it.

Not all the arguments are good though, beating 6000 players in a donk-fest requires approx 80% luck 20% skill, the $50K 8 game championship must be more like 20% luck 80% skill. To say that there should be more POY points for winning the donk-fest is just not right. I thought POY points were based on buy in and number of entrants, if so then it is done properly. I don't think that bracelets in games that are not played by as many people should be devalued, NLHE is the most popular because it is the easiest to learn the basics and is forced down our throats on every poker TV show. Maybe the World Series would be better if more players could be bothered to learn a wider variety of games then you would get specialisation and the numbers would be go down for NLHE tournaments and up for the other games.

The new generation of online players that just assume the older players are not as good are deluding themselves I think, while some dinosaurs die off, others will evolve and bite back.


over 11 years ago

While I DO agree with the tourney organizers that don't want to "cannibalize" the Main Event, Seidel's perspective actually makes a lot of sense. Te top players in the world that can easily afford to buy in to the 10K/25K-type tourneys should have an event or two when it comes to NLHE events. I was actually surprised that the sched DIDN'T have this area covered..... An early NLHE tourney in the event schedule would be a great idea, so some of the fans could see these players on the grand stage earlier in the WSOP season.


over 11 years ago

Don't "LOL" at ME, Bolotin. We're on the same side. Make no mistake about it, there WILL be a $10K/$25K NLHE event on the 2011 WSOP sched in the early stages of the tourney. (Event 3-10, or somewhere up front, no cross-over with the Main...