WSOP Polls Opinions on Main Event Payout Structure

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Facing several years of declining World Series of Poker Main Event participation, the tournament’s organizers sought a new marketing strategy that would create a splash and attract new faces. Their solution, implemented last year, was to bump the first place prize up to a massive $10 million and entice new players with the promise of an eight-figure payday.

The approach seemed to work and after all was said and done, the 2014 Main Event saw its first increase in numbers in years. But not everyone is a fan of the new top-heavy structure; six-time bracelet winner Daniel Negreanu has argued that the improving economy, not the extra cash, contributed more to the success of last year’s event. Read Negreanu’s thoughts.

WSOP organizers seem to have taken note and have requested that players give their opinion on the prestigious tournament in a short survey. “We always value the feedback of the players and thought it prudent to survey them on this issue as a result of recent chatter,” WSOP VP Seth Palansky told PokerNews. “We will analyze the data and determine the best course of action moving forward in part based on that input.”

In the survey, the WSOP revealed that it is considering paying more places in the 2015 Main Event and asked that players consider the following scenario:

“Last year, the WSOP Main Event paid 693 places, with 693rd receiving $18,406, 100th place getting $52,141, and 10th getting $565,193. If we pay 1,000 places using 6,683 entrants as the benchmark, 1,000th would possibly receive $15,000, 693rd would then get $16,750, 100th spot would hypothetically receive $50,000, and 10th would get $525,000. Are these pay adjustments an acceptable compromise to increase the percentage of the field paid out from a standard 10% to more along the lines of 15%?”

The survey also questioned how much the min-cash should be, from $11,000 to $20,000, and what percentage of players should be paid in total, starting at 7.5% and going up to 20%.

The questions seem specifically written in response to Negreanu’s blog post. In it, he urged the WSOP to pay more places by lowering the minimum prize. He believed that the smaller minimum payout would have few psychological repercussions for most players. “When Billy Bob goes back to his wife and says, ‘Honey, I’m in the money,’ the fact that he is guaranteed $15,000 rather than $22,000 is an afterthought. The celebration is in the win, no matter how small,” he said.

Phil Hellmuth backed the idea on Twitter: “Agree 100%: Flatter payouts [are] more important than $10 million guarantee for 1st,” he said.

Negreanu even suggested a few new slogans for the Main Event: “The richest tournament in poker history is about to create nine new millionaires. Could you be one of the nine? Only one way to find out.”

“The Main Event payouts are being discussed again prior to pre-registration opening and this data will be one of several factors we consider,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart (pictured). “We’re interested in getting a broad swath of feedback, which ideally includes and segments both returning customer and potential customers. So, we hope players and fans will help us get the word out quickly about our interest to hear from them.”

It remains to be seen what changes, if any, will be made as a result of the survey. “If there is a way to make the WSOP better, the playing experience better, that’s what we are here to do,” said Palansky.”

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