World Series of Poker Play it Safe Over November Nine

WSOP 2012The November Nine is dead…for now! But the many poker fans out there – me included – who were hoping that the main event of the 2012 World Series of Poker (WSOP) would be run to completion have been left sorely disappointed.

The WSOP issued a mysterious statement on Twitter on Tuesday regarding the 43rd staging of the series that said: A few hints on WSOP schedule coming tomorrow…you won’t find the November Nine returning.”

That certainly built up my hopes that any break following the discovery of the final table of nine players for the main event would be ditched, only for WSOP organisers to pull a fast one by moving the November Nine forward by just one week – and only because of the impending US presidential election.

So, instead of a November resumption this year, we will see those fortunate nine survivors return to Las Vegas on October 28 for three days’ play that will result in the new champion receiving his or her WSOP main event bracelet on October 30 at the Penn & Teller Theater.

Main Event Returns in October This Year

What a strange decision – particularly after the extraordinary success of the almost-live coverage of the main event last year. All the talk of major changes to the main event appears to have fallen by the wayside. This was the perfect opportunity to bring the main event back into the fold, but ours is not to reason why…

Essentially, instead of a 15-week break between the final table being established and its recommencement, we now have 14 weeks to wait before the champion is crowned.

I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t cut it. Maybe television deals and so on have already been signed, but it really is time to give us poker fans the opportunity to watch the WSOP main event to a conclusion – no breaks, no big build-ups and certainly no long-running speculation over a final table that could provide some incredible play.

What we have right now is an anti-climactic finish to the world’s biggest poker tournament that was first introduced in 2008 and is well past its sell-by date. The times they are a changing, but just not quickly enough.

Talking of broadcasting, ESPN are expected to announce their television schedule over the next few months.

WSOP Schedule Removes One Day From Main event

Of course, the official dates of all events on the WSOP schedule were announced last night, with the tournament running from Sunday, May 21, until Monday, July 16, at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino.

Now, stick with me here, as there’s a lot to cover. Firstly, there will be 61 bracelet events staged, with the main event kicking off on Saturday, July 7, at midday for the first of three opening-day streams.

That’s one down on last year. Yes, massive changes there, huh. Anyway, those who make it through Days 1a and 1b will be back at the tables on July 10 for the first Day 2, while the Day 1c survivors will return to the felt on July 11.

Thereafter, the remaining players will combine to make a Day 3 field on July 12, with each session featuring five completed levels over 10 hours until the final table is set on July 16.

Incidentally, the main event’s customary day off is no longer on the schedule, so there’s another minor change, although one that might anger some of the bigger-name pros who will expect to make it deep into the tournament.

Extra 92 Tables For 2012 Series

Losing Day 1d might not seem particularly significant – and I am certainly underwhelmed by this announcement – but the WSOP emphasised that to achieve this the Rio will now provide 470 tables to be used each day as opposed to the 378 that were available last year.

The 92 additional tables will be placed in the Rio’s 20,000 square-foot Brasilia Ballroom, so joining the 39,000 square-foot Amazon Room and Pavilion Ballroom, which is the largest of the three at 55,000 square feet.

Of course, tournament director Jack Effel, who will return for a seventh year to oversee the event, reckons the 2012 “WSOP schedule is very exciting” following organisers’ decisions to introduce several “fantastic new events, while bringing back many successful stalwarts that our players love”.

Talking about the expansion of their footprint in Vegas, Effel said that the WSOP will “include extra tables dedicated to cash games, as well as plenty of satellite and single-day tournament space”, all ensuring that “players will have an easy time finding a desirable game without ever having to leave the Rio Convention Center”.

Casino Employees Event Again Starts WSOP

As has become the custom, the WSOP will open with the $500 buy-in Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em event at midday on May 27.

However, there are numerous changes that follow that I’ll need to highlight here now – especially as one of the major alterations includes the introduction of the $1 million buy-in The Big One For One Drop charity tournament.

ONE DROP chairman Guy Laliberté – who founded Cirque du Soleil back in 1984 – was keen to have this event added to the WSOP schedule and has succeeded, with the event starting at midday on Sunday, July 1, and finishing on the third as entrants help with the raising of awareness and, of course, cash to combat one of the world’s greatest issues – the lack of access to water for untold millions of people.

The competitors – with the field set at a maximum of 48 players – will see 11%, or $111,111, of their buy-in go directly to ONE DROP from the No-Limit Hold’em high roller championship.

The Big One For One Drop Offers Biggest Prize Ever

Additionally, with the potential for 48 players stumping up the huge buy-in, it is likely we will see the eventual champion pick up the biggest top prize in the history of poker.

‘How much?’ I hear you say. Well, it does all depend on the eventual size of the starting field. But, if we do see as many as 45 players sign up, the prize pool will be a massive $40,000,005, with an incredible $17,200,002.15 going to the winner.

Now, remember that Pius Heinz only (‘only!’) left Vegas with $8,715,638 for winning last year’s WSOP main event. That is only just above 50% of what the Big One For One Drop champion will leave with.

Even second place, with $9,480,001.19, would top the German’s haul from last November. Puts it all into perspective, really, doesn’t it.

Re-Entry Event Leads Changes

There are, as you’ll expect, many other changes to this year’s schedule, with one of the most interesting being the introduction of the very first re-entry tournament at the WSOP.

It’s event #9 on the calendar and will be a $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament that begins on Saturday, June 2, at midday, and means players exiting Day 1a can once again dig deep into their pockets for Day 1b

Another new tournament is the four-day, $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Mixed Max that once again begins at noon, this time as event #6, on Thursday, May 31.

A successful debut for the event at the WSOP Europe (WSOPE) – which was won by Hollywood’s Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mizrachi for $448,861 – last year in Cannes meant this form of the world’s greatest game was always likely to make an appearance at the WSOP.

So it has proved, with the event format seeing players compete nine-handed for Day 1, six-handed during Day 2, and then heads-up for the remaining two days.

Short-Handed Tournaments Added to Schedule

Event #28, starting on Thursday, June 14, will also be a short-handed tournament, this time for three days.

That $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Four-Handed competition will follow on from another short-handed tournament – event #3, which will be the $3,000 buy-in Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha tournament that has been capped at 512 players and will run for three days from Tuesday, May 29.

Interestingly, those taking part in the heads-up tournament will have to change between the two poker games every 20 minutes.

The final new addition to the 2012 WSOP schedule arrives closer to the end of the series, with event #49 – the $1,500 buy-in Ante Only No-Limit Hold’em tournament that takes in three days from Wednesday, July 27.

This additional tournament also owes its place to an earlier test, this time at last week’s WSOP Circuit (WSOPC) event at Caesars Palace in Sin City, where Portland’s Jeffrey Dobrin collected the top prize of $15,357 from the $350 buy-in competition.

Ante Only Event Adds ‘Twist’ to Hold’em Poker

The WSOP explained the ante-only event thus: In a twist on traditional no-limit hold’em poker, this event will be played without the small and big blind bets.

“All players at the table will ante to begin every hand, with the person to the left of the button starting the action with a choice of folding or bringing in the minimum chip amount in play. The event will create a lot of action and multiple-player pots.”

Meanwhile, a couple of exhibition tournaments will no doubt attract some interest from the many railbirds who make the journey from across the globe to take in the WSOP, even though neither will be a bracelet event.

The $560 buy-in Doubles No-Limit Hold’em event runs for one day from 10:00 on Saturday, June 30, and will see team-mates rotate for each level as they aim to take their combined stack to triumph.

The second non-bracelet competition arrives on Friday, July 6, at midday and is the one-day, $560 buy-in Bracelet Bounty No-Limit Hold’em event, where bounties are placed on the heads of all the WSOP bracelet winners taking part.

These two events will also be joined by each day’s three deep stack tournaments in not being featured among the bracelet competitions.

$25,000 Heads-Up Tournament is Ditched

However, the $25,000 buy-in Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em tournament – won last year by England’s Jake Cody for $851,192 – has been removed from the events schedule, leaving event #12 as the heftiest buy-in for a head-to-head tournament this year at $10,000 when the 512-player maximum field kicks off at noon on Tuesday, June 5, for four days.

Still, the popular $50,000 buy-in Poker Players’ Championship retains its place on the calendar, starting on Sunday, June 24, at 17:00 PT (Pacific Time) at event #45, so we should again see some amazing action as the entrants try to emulate Brain Rest’s success last July that gave the Vegas-based pro a $851,192 pay day for being crowned the world’s best all-rounder from the eight-game mixed event.

Also returning for this year are the $1,000 buy-in Ladies’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship – event #51 – and the $1,000 buy-in Seniors’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship as event #29.

Rule Changes To Help Competitors

Some rule changes have also been introduced to assist players by keeping days from becoming too long, although each event will still begin at either midday or 17:00 every day.

The WSOP has precise time limits in place that ensures that days do not stretch out, with the 10-level rule – which was first introduced last year – being retained for this summer’s series.

That means players will not have to sit through any more than 10 levels of one hour each per day as chips will be bagged at about 20 to one in the morning, although, if an opening day of an event breaks through the 1,500-player barrier, the WSOP will bring in an 11th level in the hope that competitors reach the money by the conclusion of Day 1.

But that extra blind level will mean those still in the event will not be rising from their seats until approximately 2am.

Day 1 survivors from any tournament that starts at midday won’t return until 13:00 PT the next day, while those taking part in 17:00 events will be back at 14:00.

February 8 is Pre-Registration Day

Here’s an important date for all your WSOP hopefuls out there – Wednesday, February 8.

That’s when online pre-registration begins for every event at this summer’s series, while Sunday, May 27, will see the start of on-site live satellites.

Below is the full schedule for the 2012 WSOP, but you can pop on over to WSOP.com if you want to check out the structure sheets for any of the tournaments.

Certainly, as is always the case, the WSOP will provide us with a thrilling couple of months. It’s just a pity that we will still have to wait over three months after the final day of the summer series to know who the new world champion will be.

Full WSOP 2012 Schedule

Sunday, May 27:

Event #1, 12:00, $500 buy-in Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em event (over two days)

Monday, May 28:

Event #2, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Tuesday, May 29:

Event #3, 12:00, $3,000 buy-in Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em/Pot-Limit Omaha event (over three days, 512-player maximum)

Event #4, 17:00, $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better event (over three days)

Wednesday, May 30:

Event #5, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Thursday, May 31:

Event #6, 12:00, $5,000 buy-in Mixed Max event (Day 1 plays nine-handed, Day 2 plays six-handed, Day 3 and 4 play heads-up, over four days)

Event #7, 17:00, $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud event (over three days)

Friday, June 1:

Event #8, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better event (over three days)

Saturday, June 2:

Event #9, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Re-Entry event (two starting days for a five-day event)

Sunday, June 3:

Event #10, 17:00, $5,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud event (over three days)

Monday, June 4:

Event #11, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event (over three days)

Tuesday, June 5:

Event #12, 12:00, $10,000 buy-in Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em World Championship event (over four days, 512-player maximum)

Event #13, 17:00, $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Wednesday, June 6:

Event #14, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Shootout event (over three days, 2000-player maximum)

Event #15, 17:00, $5,000 buy-in Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better event (over three days)

Thursday, June 7:

Event #16, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Friday, June 8:

Event #17, 12:00, $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Hold’em World Championship event (over three days)

Event #18, 17:00, $2,500 buy-in Seven-Card Razz event (over three days)

Saturday, June 9:

Event #19, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Event #20, 17:00, $5,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Sunday, June 10:

Event #21, 12:00, $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Event #22, 17:00, $2,500 buy-in Limit 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (over three days)

Monday, June 11:

Event #23, 12:00, $3,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Event #24, 17:00, $5,000 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better event (over three days)

Tuesday, June 12:

Event #25, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in Limit Hold’em Shootout event (over three days)

Event #26, 17:00, $3,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha event (over three days)

Wednesday, June 13:

Event #27, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. poker event (Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better, Seven-Card Razz, Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better; over three days)

Thursday, June 14:

Event #28, 12:00, $2,500 buy-in Four-Handed No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Friday, June 15:

Event #29, 10:00, $1,000 buy-in Seniors’ (50 years old or older) No-Limit Hold’em World Championship event (over three days)

Event #30, 17:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball event (over three days)

Saturday, June 16:

Event #31, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Event #32, 17:00, $10,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. World Championship event (Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better, Seven-Card Razz, Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better; over three days)

Sunday, June 17:

Event #33, 12:00, $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Monday, June 18:

Event #34, 12:00, $5,000 buy-in Six-Handed Pot-Limit Omaha event (over three days)

Event #35, 17:00, $2,500 buy-in Mixed (Limit/No-Limit) Hold’em event (over three days)

Tuesday, June 19:

Event #36, 12:00, $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Shootout event (over three days)

Event #37, 17:00, $2,500 buy-in Eight-Game Mix event (Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better, Seven-Card Razz, Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better, No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball; over three days)

Wednesday, June 20:

Event #38, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Thursday, June 21:

Event #39, 12:00, $10,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha World Championship event (over three days)

Event #40, 17:00, $2,500 buy-in Six-Handed Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Friday, June 22:

Event #41, 12:00, $3,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Event #42, 17:00, $2,500 buy-in Omaha/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Lo 8 or Better event (over three days)

Saturday, June 23:

Event #43, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Sunday, June 24:

Event #44, 12:00, $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Event #45, 17:00, $50,000 buy-in Poker Players’ Championship event (Limit Hold’em, Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better, Seven-Card Razz, Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split 8 or Better, No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball; over five days)

Monday, June 25:

Event #46, 12:00, $2,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Tuesday, June 26:

Event #47, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better event (over three days)

Event #48, 17:00, $3,000 buy-in Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Wednesday, June 27:

Event #49, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in Ante Only No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Thursday, June 28:

Event #50, 12:00, $5,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Friday, June 29:

Event #51, 12:00, $1,000 buy-in Ladies’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship event (over three days)

Event #52, 17:00, $2,500 buy-in 10-Game Mixed event (No-Limit Hold’em, Seven-Card Razz, Limit Hold’em, Badugi (Limit), Seven-Card Stud, 2-7 Draw Lowball (No-Limit), Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better, Pot-Limit Omaha, 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball (Limit), Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better; over three days)

Saturday, June 30:

10:00, $560 buy-in Doubles No-Limit Hold’em non-bracelet event (over one day)

Event #53, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Sunday, July 1:

Event #54, 12:00, $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Event #55, 13:11, $1,000,000 buy-in The Big One for One Drop No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Monday, July 2:

Event #56, 12:00, $1,500 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over three days)

Tuesday, July 3:

Event #57, 12:00, $10,000 buy-in Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em World Championship event (over three days)

Event #58, 17:00, $3,000 buy-in Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Split-8 or Better event (over three days)

Wednesday, July 4:

Event #59, 12:00, $1,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em event (over four days with two starting days)

Thursday, July 5:

Event #60, 17:00, $10,000 buy-in No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball World Championship event (over three days)

Friday, July 6:

12:00, $560 buy-in Bracelet Bounty No-Limit Hold’em non-bracelet event (over one day)

Saturday, July 7:

Event #61, 12:00, $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Main Event (over 10 days)