Over the past week, comments from WPT host Mike Sexton about the value of a WSOP bracelethave drawn the attention of the poker world. That attention grew even more significant when the Executive Director of the WSOP, Ty Stewart (pictured), replied to some of Sexton’s arguments.
Soon after Sexton’s thoughts on the current state of the WSOP were published, Stewart stepped up. “Despite this forum being a PartyPoker blog, we (the WSOP) would never question your motivations to want what is best for the industry and the WSOP,” Stewart started. He then responded to Sexton’s thoughts with an extended post of his own.
As to the November Nine, Stewart suggested that the current format actually helps players who make the final table. Pointing out the live reporting and social media nature of our world today, Stewart said he hopes the poker community “feels proud of a platform which sees every hand of a poker tournament covered on the #1 sports network in the world via a multi-day prime-time finale” rather than in a documentary-style presentation months after the conclusion of the event.
As for the players who make the trip back to the November Nine final table, Stewart said that the WSOP goes to great lengths to cater to them. “We furnish business class travel and expenses for the return trip,” Stewart stated, and highlighted several areas where players have been able to garner extra sponsorship dollars and attention from outside the poker community.
“I believe it was very exciting for Bruno Politano(pictured) to receive a good luck message from country icon Neymar last year,” Stewart wrote. He also pointed out the difference between the 2007 WSOP Main Event final table and the first November Nine. “Having been there when a sparse crowd of mostly sleeping, un-invested persons witnessed the final table, I am continually floored by the atmosphere of the modern final table, replete with body painters, country flags, and chanting fans, which makes poker feel very close to sport.”
Regarding the number of bracelets awarded, Stewart believes that has come about due to balancing the needs of professional players and recreational players. “We are guided by the principles of having choices and opportunities for all segments of players and giving them the best experience, prize pool, and value for their money possible,” Stewart said. “We are proud to have $1 million events and $1,000 events. This is poker today; it is still statistically harder to win a bracelet than at any time in the past.”
Stewart pointed out that the POY race is simply a reflection of the global nature of today’s poker world. “We have always believed in the ‘World’ in WSOP and that, with a fast growing global game, not all events should be on home soil where Americans can save the travel expenses,” Stewart opined.
He mentioned players like inaugural WSOP Europe champion Annette Annette_15Obrestad (pictured) and 2013 WSOP Europe champion Adrian Mateos, “who wouldn’t have been eligible to play at the WSOP when they won their bracelets due to their age,” as great moments in WSOP history. Due to the events being held in foreign locations, the WSOP has brought the game further into the television realm with broadcasts on Eurosport and Australian television.
Both gentlemen offer very well presented and thought-out reasons for their positions. But the bottom line is who the players believe has it right: Sexton or Stewart. Comment here and let us know your thoughts.