The last couple of years have seen WSOP poker doing more than a little tinkering with their slate of events for the annual poker-fest at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Vegas. Everything from the nose-bleed buy in like the One-Drop for high rollers with it’s $111,111 entry fee, to things like last years Millionaire Maker with a $1-Million guarantee for the winner (which is unprecendented for a $1500 buy in event) have been added the docket. This year there are 68 scheduled events and some really juicy events that even the average-joe can afford to buy into.
The first event of note is a $565 No Limit Holdem event which is being called ‘The Colossus”. The it’s $5-Million guaranteed prize pool, my guess is it will more than live up to it’s name. There has never been a bracelet event in the history of the WSOP offered with that low of a buy in and they are expecting it to set the record for number of players in the field. So, the good news is that you can buy into a Bracelet event for only $565 and have a shot at a very large payday. The bad news is, everybody else and their brother will be buying in as well. The field will be enormous, so it is going to take some stellar play and a large bit of luck to score a win in a tournament like that. Nevertheless, it is a tempting NLH event.
A couple other events that stand out to me as bargains are the $777 buy in NLH event on July 3rd, which is also a first at that price point and also the $1500 NLH Bounty tournament on July 1st. Personally, I love playing bounty tournaments and this one will offer a $500 Bounty on each player. Obviously, it only takes 3 Knockouts to make your buy-in back and a deep run in this tournament is going to net some great additional cash as the knockout’s occur. Bounty tournaments represent an excellent bargain for the average player, as they give you a chance to make a few bucks even if you don’t make the money. The $777 event will also be a good shot for the bargain hunter, but like the Colossus, expect a large field given that the buy in is about 50% of what the lowest WSOP bracelet events will normally run you.
There is a 50/50 event on July 27th where literally 1/2 the field gets paid and for those old, super-tight, guys who occupy a seat at every casino and only play hands like A-A and K-K (you know who you are) there is an event with extended 90-minute levels, giving those players a better chance at playing even less hands than normal while they talk about the weather in their hometowns even more.
What I really like about the WSOP events this year is that the starting chip stacks have been increased an average of 66% for the buy ins that are under $10k. What this means is that you have a deeper stack of chips to start out with which tends to reward good play and decrease the element of luck somewhat. If you have more chips, you have less of a chance of getting into short-stacked situations due to bad luck and bad beats. You can be more selective with your play and not have to worry about the blinds catching up to you quite as quickly. Plus, if you do suffer a bad beat you are more likely to have enough blinds left to still be able to play actual poker rather than just shoving on a junk hand because you are so short-stacked. This increase in the starting stack is something that real poker players have been clamoring for years and the WSOP finally listened. Of course, they are still raking their typical huge rake on every tournament, but that is a subject for another time; baby steps!
In any case, this year promises to be one of the best years for live poker in Las Vegas at the WSOP and will yield greater prize money as well as larger playing fields than ever before. If you haven’t played a WSOP event yet, this is a good time to give it a shot. I know I will be there.