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  1. #1
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    Default WSOP to take 117-day break before starting final table

    The World Series of Poker's Main Event will start this summer, but when the tournament gets down to its final table, the tournament will pause for 117 days and restart in November to allow for ESPN to broadcast the final table (nearly) live.

    Johnny Chan says the new timetable will allow final table participants to line up agreements with sponsors, and others have chimed in on how they think it will affect the final table.

    While poker pro Daniel Negreanu also applauds the timetable, he says it will make for a "different dynamic" at the final table. "You're going to see some really kind of more sophisticated play," he says.

    The WSOP is a 55-event series of tournaments that begins May 30. ESPN will begin airing taped broadcasts of various events July 22. Negreanu expects players at the final table to monitor those.

    "They're going to watch the ESPN broadcasts and go, 'Oh, did you notice that? When he does this, he's bluffing,' " Negreanu says.

    He says players also can get coaching. He likens it to Super Bowl coaches getting two weeks to make a game plan: "Great players and amateurs alike will have an opportunity to really devise schemes and plans for how they're going to play."

    ...

    For ESPN, there also will be a change in the dynamic. The title figures to be won in the early hours of Nov. 11, with the two-hour telecast of the final table set for 9 p.m. ET. "The champion will be crowned on the day of air. We're very excited about this change," ESPN senior producer Jamie Horowitz says.
    ESPN will air a special Nov. 4 showing what the players have done between the July determination of the final nine and the final table.

    "We want to detail that journey," Horowitz says.

    What if something happens that precludes a player from playing at the final table? The WSOP has accounted for that. A player who does not appear will have his chips "blinded off," which means they will be paid into mandatory bets for each hand. When a competitor's last chip is played, he will be paid for where he finishes.

    Two-time Main Event champion Doyle Brunson would prefer each player to be allowed an alternate, "somebody that's not considered to be a player with abilities above their own." Though Brunson, 74, has reservations about the delay being "overkill," he'd have no qualms about having to deal with it.

    "No, I'll try to hang on another four months," he said, laughing.
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/poker...-30-WSOP_N.htm

  2. #2
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    Here's the PR from the WSOP.

    WORLD SERIES OF POKER® ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENT TO 2008 MAIN EVENT FINAL TABLE FORMAT
    POKER’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS EVENT CHANGES THE QUESTION
    FROM ‘WHO WON?’ TO ‘WHO WILL WIN?’
    Final Nine Players Will Square-Off This November on ESPN

    LAS VEGAS – May 1, 2008 – The World Series of Poker® (WSOP) Presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light today announced a groundbreaking change that will more closely align the televised presentation of the world’s largest, richest and most prestigious poker tournament with other premier sports broadcasts.

    The last nine players of the $10,000 World Championship of No-Limit Texas Hold’em, known as the Main Event, will compete on November 9-10 instead of the originally scheduled date of July 16.

    “Our intent is to provide an even bigger stage for our players,” said Jeffrey Pollack, Commissioner of the World Series of Poker. “Now fans and viewers will ask ‘who will win’ our coveted championship bracelet instead of seeing ‘who won.’ The excitement and interest surrounding our final nine players will be unprecedented.”

    This change in how the Main Event final table is staged will bring the excitement and drama of high-stakes WSOP tournament play closer to millions of fans around the globe.


    All other 2008 WSOP tournament structures and schedules remain unchanged. This announcement affects only the final nine players of Event #54, the Main Event World Championship.

    Continuing the trailblazing efforts that have made the WSOP the industry standard, this move is being made in close collaboration with ESPN, the television rightsholder of the WSOP, and the WSOP Players Advisory Council (PAC), the commissioner-appointed committee of professional and amateur poker players who provide guidance and perspective to the WSOP leadership team.
    "It's an exciting time for the World Series of Poker and ESPN," said Jamie Horowitz, senior producer, ESPN Content Development. "This adjustment will add a new element to a very successful and popular event. We look forward to documenting all of the exciting stories that make the WSOP Main Event the seminal competition in all of poker."
    “This is a huge step forward for poker and more specifically poker on television because it will help create more buzz around the final table and that is good for all of us,” said Daniel Negreanu, a WSOP PAC member, three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and one of today’s most successful and popular poker professionals. “Not only will this innovative step create more buzz for the final table, the added time prior to the final table will help get poker mainstream media attention. I’m very excited about this decision and can’t wait to see it all unfold, hopefully from a seat at the final table!”
    The 39th annual World Series of Poker will take place from May 30th to July 14th at the Rio® All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The Main Event will begin on July 3rd, with the Final Table being determined on July 14th. The nine players who advance to the Final Table will return to the Rio on November 9th to play down to just two players. The final two, will go head-to-head late in the evening on November 10th to determine the champion and winner of poker’s ultimate prize.

    The winner of the Main Event is expected to be crowned in the early hours of November 11. ESPN will edit the two-day Final Table action and televise it in a two-hour program from 9:00-11:00 PM ET on Tuesday, November 11 just hours after the winner is crowned. This is akin to television coverage of the Olympic Games, where because of time zone differences, the telecaster schedules programs “same day” in primetime to provide the largest possible audience a convenient viewing time.

    ESPN will begin its coverage of the 2008 World Series of Poker on Tuesday, July 22. Viewers will see two hours of original poker programming every Tuesday through November 11 (except November 4 when a special preview of the Final Table will be aired at 10 p.m.). Telecasts will be aired at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. July 22 through September 30 and at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. from October 7 through November 11.

    Each of the players who make it to the WSOP Main Event Final Table will receive ninth place prize money on July 14, when the finalists are determined. Harrah’s will then provide each of those players with an all expense paid trip for two for their return to Las Vegas in November to play the final portion of the tournament.

    From July 14 to November 9, a span of 117 days, players will have an opportunity to line up sponsorships, coaches, review the play of all their competitors, participate in other tournaments, and take advantage of the new publicity and promotional opportunities that will be available.


    ABOUT THE WSOP
    The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the largest, richest and most prestigious gaming event in the world. Featuring a comprehensive slate of tournaments in every major poker variation, the WSOP is poker’s longest running tournament in the world, dating back to 1970. In 2007, the event attracted more than 54,000 entrants from 87 different countries to the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and awarded just under $160 million in prize money as players competed for game’s most coveted trophy, a WSOP bracelet. Harrah’s License Company, LLC., an affiliate of Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. has owned and operated the WSOP since 2004 and over the last four years, fostered an increase in player participation by nearly 300-percent. In addition, the WSOP has experienced groundbreaking alliances in broadcasting, digital media and corporate sponsorships, while successfully expanding the brand internationally with the advent in 2007 of the World Series of Poker Europe. For more information on the World Series of Poker, please visit our website at www.worldseriesofpoker.com.

    ABOUT HARRAH’S ENTERTAINMENT, INC.
    Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. is the world's largest provider of branded casino entertainment. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, more than 70 years ago, Harrah's has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now owns or manages casinos on four continents. The Company's properties operate primarily under the Harrah's®, Caesars® and Horseshoe® brand names; Harrah's also owns the London Clubs International family of casinos and the World Series of Poker®. Harrah's Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership. For more information, please visit www.harrahs.com.

    ABOUT ESPN
    ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of six domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU), ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS HD simulcast services, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (34 networks, syndication, radio, web sites), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN PPV, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN360.com (Broadband), ESPN Mobile Properties, ESPN on Demand and ESPN Interactive. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

  3. #3
    vinism's Avatar
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    Here's a link to Wicked Chops Poker's live blog of the WSOP teleconference where they announced the move of the final table. I was on the call, and I have to admit, this recount is both hilarious and accurate.

    http://wickedchopspoker.blogs.com/my...edia-conf.html

    Also, here's the story I wrote about the whole thing. Feel free to chime in with comments.

    WSOP Main Event final table moved to November

    1 May 2008

    By Vin Narayanan


    The final table for the World Series of Poker Main Event has been moved to November, Harrah's announced today. Harrah's hopes the 117-day pause in action increases the publicity and drama surrounding poker's premier event.

    "Our intent is to provide an even bigger stage for our players," said WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack. "Now fans and viewers will ask 'who will win' our coveted championship bracelet instead of 'who won.' The excitement and interest surrounding our final nine players will be unprecedented."

    This is a very exciting day for both the WSOP and ESPN," said Jamie Horowitz, senior producer for ESPN Content Development. "Just as when baseball added the wild card and NASCAR added the Cup chase, this has the potential to add new drama and we're excited about it."

    "The same day telecast will be a must see," Pollack added.

    "Expect poker's biggest names to come out, whether or not they're playing," Pollack said. "There will also be stars of film, television and music."
    In previous years, the Main Event concluded in the summer and ESPN aired a tape-delayed broadcast months after the fact. This year the Main Event will begin as planned on July 3 and continue until nine players are remaining. But final table action won't begin until Nov. 9, when the players will take to felt and play until the field is narrowed to two. Heads-up action will begin on Nov. 10 and WSOP officials say they don't expect the champion to be crowned until the early hours of Nov. 11. ESPN will broadcast an edited version of the final table on Nov. 11 from 9-11 p.m. ET.

    The rest of the World Series of Poker, which runs from May 30 to July 14, remains unchanged. ESPN will begin airing its coverage of the Series on July 22, with two hours of programming every Tuesday through Nov. 11.

    On Nov. 4, there will be a one-hour final table preview that documents what the players have been doing during the break, Horowitz said.

    "In the final show, the storytelling will more precisely detail their journey," Horowitz added.

    The WSOP says it worked closely with its Players Advisory Council (PAC) in making the switch.

    "The embryo was created internally (at Harrah's Entertainment)," said WSOP spokesman Seth Palansky. "But then we bounced it off several of the thought leaders in the industry, including our television partners and players."

    "There was a vigorous debate, and things just mushroomed from there," Palansky added.

    The whole process, from the conception of the idea to approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which came Tuesday, took over a year.

    "It really gained steam in February when we got through all the major hurdles that we were tasked with," Palansky added. "And then it became a matter of taking it to the various interested parties to ensure each group could do their part to ensure its success."

    "In the end, everyone loved the idea of trying to align our product with TV and create 15 weeks of programming and a same day result."

    "This is a huge step forward for poker and more specifically poker on television," said Daniel Negreanu, a WSOP PAC member and three-time bracelet winner in Harrah's statement announcing the change. ""Not only will this innovative step create more buzz for the final table, the added time prior to the final table will help get poker mainstream media attention."

    Outside of the PAC, however, player reaction has been mixed.

    "I am very torn over this proposal," said Greg Raymer, 2004 Main Event champion and member of Team PokerStars Pro. "It might be huge for the continued growth of poker, however, the down side is this long gap allows the players to become completely different people between the time they make the final table, and when they play it."

    "I feel it's a big tease to people who want to wake up the next day and win the big bucks," said Hevad Khan, a PokerStars pro who was also finalist at last year's table. "I think that is this idea is fresh, but needs some more adjusting and review."

    The general consensus appears to be that the 117-day hiatus, which gives final table players the chance to study their competitors, obtain sponsorships and hone their own games, helps the amateurs the most.

    "I'm not sure what to think," says PokerStars Pro Isabelle Mercier. "For sure the delayed final would give some great exposure to the finalists and plenty of time to get in good shape for the final. But it would probably favor the amateurs who would have time to train with a pro. My opinion, they should play the final straight with the tournament and not months later."

    "It doesn't bother me to have the final table later," says Chad Brown, another popular PokerStars pro. "But I do think it will be an advantage to the amateur players, because they will have time to get coaching and a scouting report against the better players."

    "Also, the endurance advantage that comes into play will be taken away," Brown says. "The upside for the pros is the huge publicity leading up to the final table. Bottom line: If I make the final table, I could care less what they do."

    Palansky agrees that the break "levels the playing field." But he says that this will also improve the quality of play "and better tournament play should be embraced by participants and the public."

  4. #4
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    I guess what this will really do is to make the $50K HORSE event the focus of the WSOP during the time of the event in Vegas?

    And 117-days to find out how 9 amateurs got lucky enough to slide into the final table? Pluuh-eese. A week would probably be plenty.

    IMO they should have played the majority of the main event at the start of the WSOP and found the final table. Then get the other events going.

    Play the final table of the main event on the final day.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheGooner View Post
    IMO they should have played the majority of the main event at the start of the WSOP and found the final table. Then get the other events going.

    Play the final table of the main event on the final day.
    This is an idea of heard several people suggest. I like it a lot as well. But I suspect it's a non-starter because it changes the TV rights paradigm from a full season (17 shows) of programming to about a month. Poker isn't at the same point as say, NASCAR, where they can show their best event at the beginning of the season and still draw ratings for later events.

  6. #6
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    Default Bloomberg commentary rails the break

    Joe Saumarez-Smith railed the WSOP's decision to take a break before playing the final table of the Main Event, saying it increases the likelihood that players will collude, make a private deal, or receive coaching.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?p...OX4&refer=muse

  7. #7
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    I think this is pretty dumb... completely changes the game.

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