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Best of Aaron Todd
Setting up the WSoP23 August 2006
I came down with a doozy of a cold during my second trip to Las Vegas to cover the World Series of Poker (WSOP) this summer. I blame the illness on the 120-degree heat outside, the 50-degree poker rooms inside, and the copious second-hand smoke in the casinos, hallways and taxicabs.
Oh yeah, and getting two hours of sleep between Phil Hellmuth's 10th bracelet win and InterPoker.com's Loser's Leap Extreme Poker Challenge didn't help much either.
As a result of my draining sinuses and "productive" cough, I was pretty happy to get back to the East coast to see my wife, my home, and believe it or not, the office. I didn't want to be anywhere near a poker room for the foreseeable future.
Funny how quickly things change.
Not long after I resumed my normal life, I missed the atmosphere and intense competition that surrounded me at the WSOP. While I got a small taste of the action in the Media/Celebrity Charity Tournament, I didn't play in any other WSOP events, sticking instead to low-limit tables that were within my budget.
Like most poker players, I have always dreamed about playing in World Series events. As a writer, I felt like I'd missed an opportunity to expand my playing experience - to see what it's like to play in a huge multi-table tournament. I wanted to try to find a way to fill that gap.
Foxwoods is hosting the World Poker Finals (WPF) in November, and it's likely my next chance to be part of a large tournament field. While the $10,000 No Limit Hold'em tournament will get most of the attention, there are several smaller buy-in events being held at the WPF as well. Unfortunately for me, the cheapest one that I'd be interested in playing is $600, and even that is a little too expensive for this low-roller's budget.
Poker is a recreational activity for me, and while I play to win, I don't expect my hobby to produce income. Don't get me wrong, I'm as competitive as they come, but let's just say my next mortgage payment isn't dependent on the turn of a card. And while I could save enough to play in the $600 tournament over the course of the next few months, it's hard for me to justify spending that much money on what could amount to less than two hours of entertainment.
However, if I could pay a fraction of the cost to enter a series of low buy-in tournaments over the course of several weeks, then cap the series with a deep-stacked finale where the winner gets the buy-in for a tournament at the WPF, then I'd be getting the most out of my entertainment dollar.
Thus, the concept for the Wednesday Series of Poker (WSoP) was born.
Not to be confused with the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the WSoP is a series of six $15 Limit Hold'em tournaments contested by the same field of nine players each week. Players earn points based on where they finish in the weekly tournaments. Those point totals will determine the starting stacks for the final to be played on a weekend in late September. The winner gets the buy-in for a $600 WPF tournament plus a little spending money. Second place gets their $90 buy-in back.
The most difficult part of planning the WSoP was getting nine people to commit to playing every week for six consecutive weeks. Most of the bartering involved small details like what night to play and who should host games. Once the dust settled and we had enough to players, I had just one more hurdle to clear: The Poker Gal.
Like all my hair-brained poker ideas (remember the 24-hour game?), I try to see if I can build enough momentum to get the game off the ground before mentioning the idea to my wife. While she tolerates my weekly home game, she seems to bristle a bit whenever I mention the possibility of doing something a little out of the norm.
But unlike the 24-hour game, The Poker Gal was on board with this idea right from the start; in fact, she thought it was brilliant. It's probably because the format is loosely modeled around "Poker Superstars," the only poker television show that she can stomach (including "Celebrity Poker Showdown," which she recognizes is the worst poker program on television). She even agreed that we should host the final, and this after I told her that it could take up to eight hours to determine the winner.
The WSoP begins play tonight, and the excitement among the players is growing. One player has even created a database and plans to post results and statistics on the Internet.
While the competition won't be as intense as it was at the WSOP, nor the stakes nearly as high, the players involved are taking it very seriously, as it represents the only opportunity many of us may have to enter an event at the WPF.
Last year, the WPF had a $565 buy-in Limit Hold'em tournament that drew 470 participants, with first place paying $74,655. While that's chump change compared with the $12 million that Jamie Gold took home for winning the WSOP Main Event a few weeks ago, it is still a pretty significant amount, especially for the members of our league, who are only risking $90 for the chance to play.
Even if the winner of our WSoP fails to finish in the money at the World Poker Finals, it will still be a great experience. While I can't find the room in my entertainment budget for $600 to jump right in, this league will give me a chance to win a spot and get me that seat in the large tournament I've been craving.
Best of Aaron Todd