In a little under two weeks the halls of the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas will transform into a seven week long summer camp for poker players when the 2016 World Series of Poker kicks off.
Thursday afternoon WSOP executives held another Twitch Town Hall to discuss some of the changes in store this year. WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart, Tournament Director Jack Effel and WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini took questions from players and media alike in the 65 minute session.
Predicting Colossus II Field Size
In 2015 Cord Garcia beat out a record-sized field to win the $565 buy-in Colossus event. Given the popularity of the event – over 22,000 players played – the WSOP added two more starting flights for the event this year and altered the payout structure to guarantee first place gets at least $1,000,000. With that in mind, Effel was asked to ballpark the number of entrants this year.
“We can handle about 4500 in the early flights, 4200 or so in the later flights with alternate options for both morning and evening flights on each day based on the demand.” – Effel.
That puts the total capacity before alternates at roughly 26,100 – only a 16% increase over last year’s final tally with 50% more starting flights.
New Payouts System and Online Calculator
This year most events will pay out 15% of the field instead of the 10% standard from previous years. Effel worked with a local Las Vegas poker player to create the new payout formula.
“We worked with a gentlemen by the name of Tom Sanduski, a known poker player around Las Vegas for a really long time. He’s got a background in computer programming and he and I have had a lot of conversations over the years about how to make payouts better for the World Series. While we felt that they were always pretty decent with a 10% payout, we knew that as times continued to go on and players wanted to have more opportunities to make money, we needed a new system.” – Effel
Rather than waiting for payouts to be announced after registration closes, players will now be able to go to WSOP.com and insert buy-in and number of players and be given a full payout list at any point.
“There were calls for transparency, particularly in the opening tournament, so now there will be surprises from first place all the way down. I think we’re at the forefront now of showing customers exactly what they should expect and we’re excited about the payout calculator.” – Stewart
The Importance of Recreational Players on the WSOP Ecosystem
“Recreational Player” has become a popular buzz word over the last year in the poker industry. Stewart provided some insight – and data – as to how the non-pros behave at the WSOP.
“We definitely do look at the analytics of how many events each customer is participating in. I believe the average is certainly less than one and a half total things, whether that be a Deepstack or a bracelet event. Of course that’s highly skewed by those professional players that might be participating in 10 to 20 or more. Far and away the largest segment of our unique customers are playing in one event. So recreational players are hugely important. All players are important, all players like the opportunity to make money.” – Stewart
The 11:00 AM Start Time and the Impact Poker Media Had on the Change
For the first time in WSOP history, tournaments will start at 11 AM instead of Noon. When the change was announced, reigning Main Event champion Joe McKeehen insisted that the change was made at the behest of the media.
“With all due respect for our friends in the poker media, we’re considering our customers and we looked at what are the main deterrents to playing in the WSOP. It’s the grind, the long hours and again we talked about it before, a lot of our consumers are coming for one event, and making that experience that’s a positive one. Guys wanna have a deeper stack, they wanna have better structures, and then they also want a lot of play but then they don’t want to have to play until late in the night. So we believe that where we are now gives the player that choice. If you don’t want to come until seven o’clock, you don’t have to come until seven o’clock to play. If you want to be there at 11 o’clock when they’re kicking things off, then you can do that. You have that flexibility.” – Stewart
A New Partnership with Uber
While the 2015 Colossus event attracted the largest field in history, it exposed a number of issues including the difficulty that many players trying to get home at the end of the night. When asked about the possibility of making more taxi cabs available at the end of each day, Stewart broke news about a new, forward thinking sponsorship that should help the issue.
“I don’t want to get myself in hot water with the taxi community, but I am pleased to announce that we’re going to have a partnership with Uber this year. Uber will actually be an element on the tables this year, they will have a dedicated pick-up area right adjacent to the convention center.” – Stewart
The Future of WSOP Europe and APAC
The yearly rotation of an international WSOP festival between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region has seen WSOP bracelet events held in England, France, Germany and Australia. After WSOP Europe was held in Berlin in 2015, WSOP APAC was due up, but Stewart indicated that won’t be the case and that an announcement about 2016 international events is imminent.
“At this point we do not plan to contest WSOP APAC. We may have an event in the region by the end of the calendar year. International World Series of Poker execution this year will likely be in Europe, more than likely surround One Drop and charitable initiatives.” – Stewart
WSOP Player of the Year Update
The Global Poker Index will again be powering the WSOP Player of the Year race. After players and fans alike voiced displeasure with the GPI scoring system, it appears they’ve gone back to the drawing board and are int he process of reworking the formula.
“Global Poker Index will in fact be powering the World Series of Poker Player of the Year. They have been hard at work, refining their formula and system one that will make for a better race at the WSOP. There will in fact be a trophy, but I do not believe there will be a monetary prize.” – Stewart