1000 Winners at the 2015 WSOP Main Event

Well known for listening to players’ concerns, the WSOP have made a major change to the payout structure of the 2015 WSOP Main Event by deciding to pay 1000 players this year, so long as there’s a minimum of 5000 entrants. In recent years they had hoped to draw more players by guaranteeing $10M in their back pocket.

This came in for criticism from a number of players including Daniel Negreanu, who is never one to keep his thoughts on the poker industry to himself. Guaranteeing the winner such a large chunk of change comes with the risk of the event being won by a casual player, maybe even someone who will walk into the sunset with money and rarely player poker again; see for example 2007 champ Jerry Yang. This is bad news for the poker economy as it means that it could potentially shrink by 7 figure with the turn of a card.

negreanuNegreanu contented that such a promise does little to bring new players to the Rio in any case. He suggests that even the weakest poker player with his head high in the clouds knows that his chances of winning are up there with the proverbial snowball in hell. The previous hook used by the marketing department was along the lines of ‘get to the final table and you’re guaranteed a million’ which is something that might seem a little more within the reach of your average recreational player. Neagreanu took to Twitter to congratulate WSOP management on their decisions

So this year the WSOP organisers have taken it a step further and decided to pay a whopping 1000 players (subject to a field of at least 5000 players). The number paid has never exceeded 873, which happened in 2006 when the Main Event drew over 8700 players. So for 2015 you’ve got a better chance of making the money, and organisers feel this will have more people willing to part with their cash, and will keep the lucky players that cash coming back for more.

Based on last years Main Event which drew 6,683 entrants, those placed from 694-1000 would be in for a $15,000 pay day with the eventual winner coming away with $8M. It should also be noted that they’re hanging on to the ‘all final tablists will be millionaires’ tag, with 9th place taking home a cool million, again based on last year’s structure. Is the tournament as a whole better off with a flatter payout structure where the winner nets $2M less but over 300 people more make the money. I would have to say that it is, but as usual there are plenty of dissenters online complaining about a structure that will pay up to 20% of entrants. Some foreign players are concerned that a reduction in the minimum payout means that it isn’t worth their while to travel to the event, but that’s an argument that’s easily dispelled. In general though, the Twitter reaction has been mostly positive, so good job WSOP on listening to the poker community