As players started to take their seats and settle in for an afternoon of 10 Game action Thursday at the 2015 World Series of Poker, WSOP officials made a surprising announcement that was also shared by Tournament Director Jack Effel on Twitter. After players complained about how much play there was early in the low buy-in limit tournaments compared to how much there was late, the WSOP listened and acted.
GCB granted us approval to update structures for remaining small limit events. 1-Double levels (1-3) have been removed & added to days 2 & 3
— Jack Effel (@WSOPTD) June 18, 2015
The person responsible for the altered structure was none other than serial complainer Allen Kessler. While some of his suggestions tend to be ignored, whether right or wrong, due to their frequency, his simple suggestions on how to immediately fix things rang true to WSOP officials, including Effel.
“I just really took what Kessler and David Baker and all those guys were talking about, and then I just went with them,” said Effel. “They made sense to me, why they wanted the play to get shifted to these other places in the structure. I wish we could’ve seen it ahead of time, but we didn’t. Thanks to Allen and David and Matt Glantz and all the guys that give their input, who care about the WSOP and want to make it better.”
A lot of players agreed with the sentiments of those complaining, but with the level of input and approval required by the Nevada Gaming Control Board not even Effel knew if these changes could happen for 2015 when he brought them up.
“For the purpose of this, I wasn’t sure if I could get them changed or not, but GCB is very good at working with us and we have a great relationship,” said Effel. “I explained that the players are playing a very grueling day to try to get into the money, and it’s not meaningful where it should be and where it should be meaningful. We just basically reallocated some of the levels to where you still end up in the same place [at the end], but we moved the play to a much more meaningful place.”
Once the alterations to the structure were approved, it was a matter of making sure the customers coming in knew what had changed and had the chance to react in kind.
“Everything is supposed to be submitted ahead of time and any time you have any kind of changes, they have to be vetted and announced so people know about it,” said Effel. “That’s the main thing, you don’t want to mislead people. Give them notice and the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, I want to play or I don’t want to play.’ That’s really GCB’s concern, they want to make sure that you have given people notice of new rules and, in case anyone is not happy with that, at least you let them know ahead of time.”
In addition to altering things for the 10 Game Mix, the changes were also put into effect for the $1,500 Seven Card Stud, $1,500 Dealers Choice and $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo events coming up later this summer.
The moves were quite simple in reality. Rather than repeating a few levels at the very beginning of the tournament, an extra level was added on each scheduled day of the tournament.
“We removed the double levels from 1, 2, and 3,” said Effel. “We removed the extra 100/200, 150/300, and 200/400, and inserted a 250/500 on Day 1. That way, you have a nice flow of levels for Day 1. When you come into Day 2 for the start of level 11 which is 1200/2400 limits, we doubled that level so you get a little more meaningful play there. You’re getting close to the bubble closer to dinner time on Day 2, and they’re not playing until the end of the night with nothing to show and missing other events and opportunities.”
“Then when you come into Day 3, you have a double level of 10K/20K, which will also help at a crucial time when you’re getting close to that final table or at that final table,” said Effel. “This will really work as a good testing ground for those last four small buy-in limit events to see if those are the right changes for the other ones, medium-sized limits, and so on for 2016.”
In adding play to Day 2 and Day 3 and improving the pace towards the bubble, WSOP officials heard something that’s been pretty rare from certain pros this summer – resounding approval.
“My main thing is that this is a player’s event and it’s them versus them,” said Effel. “We’re here to try to provide the best possible experience for them from top to bottom. We’re in the hospitality business and so, I don’t like the customers to be unhappy. If there’s something I can do to make a change in these situations [I’ll try]; being proactive ahead of time is what we typically try to be, but sometimes it doesn’t work out in our favor. I think in this particular case, we ended up in a good place.”
It can be a difficult balance to strike sometimes, especially when trying to support and grow games that aren’t often seen outside the WSOP.
“Our biggest thing is that we want to continue to make the WSOP a welcoming place for new players to come here, to try new games, to feel like they have a shot to play in these events,” said Effel. “Obviously, when you have a better structure, more chips, all of that, it does help the amateurs, but it helps the pros too.”
While it remains to be seen how the changes will be viewed at the end of the 2015 WSOP, so far it seems that amateurs and pros alike are in favor of the new structures.
“If the amateurs don’t feel like they have a chance to win or they’re getting any play for their money, they’re not going to come,” said Effel. “If they’re not coming, then they’re not having an opportunity to become pros. The pros aren’t having an opportunity to grow the games that they love to play, and then there’s no future for them.”
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