2017 WSOP Changes: More Online Events, Buy-in Levels, Live Updates

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The 2017 World Series of Poker could be one of the busiest ever with 74 events over just 48 days (WSOP/Joe Giron photo)

In a little over 100 days poker players from around the world will be making their way to Las Vegas for the 2017 World Series of Poker. The schedule includes a total of 74 bracelet events spread over 48 days, meaning the Rio Hotel convention center is going to be packed to capacity most days.

“As long as we’re at this time period, I think there’s not much more room for growth particularly on the, the live side,” said Seth Palansky, WSOP Vice President of Corporate Communications.

While the official WSOP schedule still says “Final Table TBD”, WSOP organizers do have dates circled on their calendar in November – but there’s other factors in play.

“The final table should be as it always has been, nothing changes. We have tentative dates in November to play that out, but we are sort of embroiled in discussions with ESPN on the future, so we just want to get through all that before we definitively announce those dates,” said Palansky. The WSOP contract with ESPN runs through 2017 and an extension of that contract could impact the way the final table plays out. “(ESPN) have some interest in some other things, some additional live opportunities and things like that, so if, if we did extend and if some of these other things come to fruition, you know, it could impact how the Main Event is run.”

“I anticipate it going just like it always has, that’s the most likely solution here.”

While Palansky doesn’t believe the final table plans will change much this year, he’s far less committal on the Main Event field size.

“Some of these political issues that are going on, the dollar valuations; those are really the main drivers of the WSOP,” said Palansky. “Attendance, we think we’ll have a very successful Main Event this year, the 15% payouts, the 50,000 starting chips, everything that went into effect last year is back, and just a way the calendar breaks this year with where July 4 is and where the main event falls.”

If current exchange rates hold through July, it would represent a slight increase in costs for players coming from Europe to play.

Year Dollar Euro GBP ME Field
2017 $1.00 € 0.93 GBP 0.79 ?
2016 $1.00 € 0.90 GBP 0.75 6,737
2015 $1.00 € 0.90 GBP 0.64 6,420
2014 $1.00 € 0.73 GBP 0.58 6,683

While the Main Event continues to be the anchor point of the WSOP schedule, the weekends are still being scheduled around recreational players. With that in mind the WSOP introduced the lowest buy-in live open event in WSOP history this year, the Giant.

“There was definitely some debate internally here, whether to go to this price point. Everything about it was tricky, so that’s why it’s set up the way it is set up over the five weeks. At the end of the day, Ty Stewart’s real belief is we have to open the tent to everyone, right? Everyone should feel welcome to come in and participate.”

With five starting flights spread over five consecutive Fridays, the $365 buy-in event is aimed squarely at the players coming in to play $1,000 or $1,500 buy-in Saturday events.

“So we’re going to give it a shot. We think it will be a successful event, we know that price point works really well both as a Circuit and kind of a midpoint between the most popular Deep Stack that can draw 1,500 to 2,000 people and a $1K or a $565 level,” said Palansky.

There is one event on the schedule this year with a buy-in lower than the Giant though. After experimenting with online bracelet events on WSOP.com over the last two years, the 2017 schedule includes three different events, with buy-ins ranging from $333 to $3,333, that will be played out entirely on WSOP.com.

“We do feel an obligation to try to give poker a jolt in all places, so live and online where we’re operating. Obviously in the U.S. online has been tougher of late and we want to make sure that everyone at every buy-in level has an opportunity to play the variant of their choice,” said Palansky. “We just wanted to bring in the different customers. Some may not have played our other (online) events last year because it was either too high or too low price for the online event for them. So this year we’re kind of solving that buy doing all levels.”

Another change for 2017 is sure to make some of those who follow the WSOP from home happy. After two years of doing live updates for all bracelet events with their own staff, the WSOP will be working with an outside vendor for 2017.

“We’ve got a couple of hungry parties that will, we’ll figure out. I think I have more meetings next week there and we’ll determine where that goes, but I would anticipate an outside entity handling live updates this year,” said Palansky..

While Palansky wouldn’t divulge which companies have shown interest in live updates, it’s safe to assume one of the two is PokerNews. They provided live updates for the WSOP on PokerNews.com and WSOP.com up until the end of the 2014 WSOP. The other could be PokerListings, which worked with the WSOP for WSOP-APAC live updates previously, or the recently revamped PokerCentral, which is now doing live updates for Aria High Roller events and the upcoming Super High Roller Bowl.

The 2017 WSOP begins May 31.