2017 in Review: Misjudgments and Bad Decisions Dominate Top Flops

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The WSOP Player of the Year formula leads this year's Flops and Fails due in part to who finished in first place.

As the final days of 2017 slowly tick by, it’s time to take a look back at the year in poker. Over the last 10 days of the year, PocketFives is taking readers on a trip back in time to recap the last 12 months in a fun and unique way.

To date we’ve gone over the top five off-the-felt news stories of 2017, the top heaters of the year, covered the game’s newest characters, breakout stars, grudges, and WTF Moments. Keeping with the theme of wacky and weird, up next is the Year in Flops. and Fails.

#5 – No Shot Clock during the World Series of Poker

The WSOP added new clock rules to their 2017 campaign but missed the boat on the clock players were really looking for. Whether you call it a shot clock or an action clock, the timer used in events like Super High Roller Bowl and the World Poker Tour was a hit in 2017. The outcry for it to be used in World Series events fell on deaf ears as the biggest tournament series in poker declined to add it for 2017.

The lack of such a product hurt the WSOP Europe One Drop event immensely. The tanking reached a fever pitch and reigning Poker Master Steffen Sontheimer spoke out on behalf of the High Roller community. Joining him were businessmen Bill Perkins and Dan Shak, who said they would boycott any future events that do not have a shot clock.

With the Big One For One Drop coming back to next year’s WSOP schedule, those in charge have some major decisions to make over the next few months.

#4 – WSOP Streaming Schedule

The old world of all WSOP final tables streaming for free on the World Series website became a thing of the past. Just before the 2017 WSOP began, PokerGO took hold of the ownership rights to stream WSOP final tables. The paid subscription service provided high-quality content, but left fans wanting more and the feeling of they weren’t getting enough bang for their buck.

“Only” 16 events were broadcast but that total does not include all days of Main Event coverage that streamed live. Notably lacking were mixed game events and perhaps they will be added back into the rotation next year.

In an industry where free content has long been the norm, the adjustment period to PokerGO’s new age business model is still being digested.

#3 – PokerStars Live Rebrand Fizzles

The largest change to the PokerStars Live series in 2017 came in the form of a name change. Out with the tour brands players grew to love and in with PokerStars Championships and Festivals. The first step of this process was poorly executed in the beholden Bahamas and the former but now brought back PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

The PokerStars Championship Bahamas Main Event drew only 738 entrants and was met with lackluster reviews from the professional and recreational ranks. That lack of enthusiasm carried over for the full year as numbers fell for the larger portion of PokerStars Live events.

The company brought back the name brands of European Poker Tour and PCA to start 2018 in an attempt to spark new interest in the worldwide live tour.

#2 – Gardens Casino Punts a $1 Million Guarantee

Lofty guarantees drive players to casinos where they might not play otherwise. In September, the Gardens Casino in Los Angeles put a $565 buy-in with a $1 million guarantee on the schedule. Players showed up for the 14 flights initially listed but the guarantee was not met.

So what did the Gardens Casino do instead of pay out the difference? They added more flights. Three more, in fact. A move such as this was unprecedented among the community and players took notice.

The social media airwaves were unkind to Gardens for their decision to alter the schedule of the tournament. Most notably, complaints were made about the property overstepping the bounds of player trust and changing the starting days listed.

All of this lead to a public relations disaster for the property. The tournament wound up overlaying anyway and the Gardens Casino poker team will have a lot on their hands should they end up running a similar event in the future.

#1 – WSOP Player of the Year Formula

In the end, the World Series and its much-maligned points formula for Player of the Year got what it deserved. From the moment this summer’s WSOP kicked off, players were displeased with the new formula put in place to decide one of poker’s most highly coveted awards.

Ostensibly, no player feedback was asked for by the WSOP brass before they inputted a system that rewarded Colossus min-cashers more than $10,000 mixed game event ITM finishers.

Players who were accustomed to having a linear path to making a run in the POY race found themselves having to reevaluate. Take David Bach, for example. ‘The Gunslinger’ won two bracelets and finished 87th in the final POY standings. In most years, Bach’s two bracelets alone would have him in contention for most of the summer.

The result of the broken formula is the soon to be hung banner of 2017 winner Chris Ferguson, who min-cashed his way to the title. A fitting finale to a system everyone would rather forget as soon as possible.