01 May 2008

From the WSOP Conference Call: An Estimated $179,470 to be Added to the Main Event Prize Pool

Jeffrey Pollack, WSOP Commissioner for Harrah's, held a teleconference for the Media regarding the announcement of the 117-day delay in the WSOP Main Event Final Table. Included on the call: Jack Effel (Tournament Director), Seth Polansky (Communications Director), Jamie Horowitz (Senior Producer, ESPN Content Development), and Dockery Clark (Director of Sports and Event Sponsorship at Miller Brewing).

What's New at the WSOP
  • No tents; more ballrooms will be utilized for play (five total)
  • Player capacity is 2,740 at any one time
  • There will be no alternates; instead, there will be Day 2's for larger events estimated to exceed capacity
  • Satellites will not be played in the Amazon Room but in a separate ballroom
  • The cage will be separate, with an integration of buy-in and cash-out areas
  • Registration will begin 28 May, two days prior to the first event
  • All cell phones must be silenced, and players must be a table away from their seat to use a phone or PDA
  • There will be a new WSOP Concierge service; although this wasn't addressed on the call, I found out that this was a primary need of international players. Services will include shopping and other typical concierge services for those with long stays at the Rio. The Rio will also offer upgraded rooms for long-term players, including DV-R's and nicer televisions.
The Delayed Final Table
  • 14 July: Final Table set, 9 November: play from nine to two, 10 November: HU play, with a target of ending HU play early on 11 November; 11 November: show the two-hour Final Table.
  • 4 November: ESPN will air a one-hour preview show of the Final Table
  • ESPN will follow the nine WSOP Final Table players during their sixteen-week hiatus
  • ESPN (Horowitz) "This is a very exciting day for us in what is already the biggest event in poker. We look at this like when baseball added the Wild Card or NASCAR added the Chase for the Cup."
  • Miller (Clark): "We appreciate the partnership with the World Series of Poker, and this announcement adds value to us." She then explained a partnering with Phil Hellmuth, a 2 June promotion to win private lessons with Hellmuth.
Questions and Answers
  • I asked the second set of questions: What about collusion? Pollack: "The biggest mistake someone could make is to test our events ethically. We are putting the players before a global, world-wide audience, and that encourages them to represent players with high ethical standards. We are introducing a new Code of Conduct, which will clarify any act or unethical, cheating or collusion will be met with very severe penalties. When play stops, we are encouraging the world to take a look at these players, and they will achieve a level of fame. We hope it discourages (unethical behavior).
  • My second question: Dockery mentioned this was added value to Miller, and I assume it is added value to all parties involved. Will there be anything added to the prize pool of the Main Event? Pollack: The prize pool for the Final Table will be deposited in an interest-bearing account for the Final Table players after the Final Table is set." My calculation of interest in a 3-month CD @ 3.25% APR: $179,470 (unsure if this is correct or not, calculated at Bankrate.com for $1,000,000 and extrapolated--apologies to the math whizzes and any corrections appreciated).
  • Bob Ciaffone (CardPlayer) asked about the late endings of days. Effel explained that play will end around midnight (five levels) for the Main Event as well as for ten levels in most other tourneys. 5:00PM start events will end around 2:00AM.
  • Adam Schwartz (2+2 Radio) asked about the potential for things to happen to players in the interim period. Pollack: Probably a hundred scenarios, whether it is entertainment or sports. People should be confident in our ability to stage an event, world-class, customer-friendly."
  • Matthew Shaw (PokerListings) asked about the new photography policy. Seth Polansky asked him to call and discuss off-line.
  • BJ Neumeth (PokerNews) asked if there would be media restrictions during the Final Table to keep the winner under wraps as much as possible. Pollack: "We are blowing the doors wide-open. If you are credentialed to be in the room, you’ll be able to report what you saw. This will only enhance the coverage and viewership. 10 November will be a huge media day for the World Series."
  • Bill Ordeen (Baltimore Sun) asked if this change was to move the broadcast to more of a live event coverage feel vs a documentary. Horowitz: "We've always had change in tournament coverage, and ESPN has always looked to as the WSOP is the seminal event in poker. There will be twenty hours of Main Event is more than ever, and the preview show will be new as well." Pollack: "We think this iwll create a greater sense of anticipation, changing the equation, as many people as possible talking about who is going to win?"
  • Rick Dacey (PokerPlayer News UK) asked about pay-per view and how this impacts broadcasting in the UK, as well as in other international markets. Horowitz: "The plan is not to do pay-per-view for the Main Event. We are looking into some of the bracelet events on ESPN360." Pollack: "ESPN distributes this (internationally), but we are not sure about ESPN International and will follow up."
  • Steve Rosenblum (Chicago Tribune) asked about apparel rules. Pollack: "No single company logo can be on the same article of clothing more than once, and no maximum on number of unique logos. I came from NASCAR, and I hope that players can start looking like NASCAR drivers. Robert Williamson, III, for one, is well on his way. We hope that the players at the Final Table (will use) sixteen weeks to sign additional sponsors."


Blogger Gene said...

Reading over the hysteria in the 2+2 thread, I wonder why Harrah's didn't just suck it up and add a million bucks or so to the final-table prize pool. When you figure in the interest that'll be earned waiting for the final table it's only like 800 grand. Pony up, put some extra cash in the prize pool to assuage player complaints about the 4-month delay, and get on with it.

I mean, reading the hysteria in the 2+2 thread, I think a lot of that would be rendered moot if Harrah's could say, "Look, we're hoping that doing this will increase ratings, boost the game's popularity, and make lots of money. We want you to be partners in this, so we're adding money to the kitty". It'd be a good PR, and I think a good investment.

I laugh reading some of the stuff in the thread. As if the WSOP Main Event "belongs" to poker players. Uh, no it doesn't. It belongs to Harrah's, and they can do with it whatever the hell they want. Don't like it? Then don't play. Haven't these folks ever heard of capitalism? They want the PPA or the WPA to get "involved"? Good Lord! The naivety!!

4:25 PM  
Blogger WillWonka said...

Nice article, as usual.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Wwonka said...

Thanks for the great read.

I was also wondering about the value added for the players.

12:48 PM  
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