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Tournament structure, 'Sequestrium' top player concerns at WSOP 'Town Meeting'

27 June 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - The leadership group of the World Series of Poker held an open town meeting for players and media on Wednesday morning, and about two dozen people were in attendance to air their concerns about different aspects of the WSOP.

The three major concerns voiced by the players were the tournament structures in limit events, the space for players and tables, and the decision to sequester players and broadcast several final tables on the Internet on a one-hour delay.

"There's too much play in the beginning and not enough in the middle levels," said Steve Hohn, a professional poker player who was mostly concerned about the tournament structures. Hohn won a WSOP bracelet in 2005. "The feeling I get is that there is less play this year. There's kind of an illusion, because you've doubled the chip stacks, but you've taken away some of the levels."

"You've got to figure out who these tournaments are designed for," said Blair Rodman, who both plays poker and writes about the game. "Are they designed for the player who comes in here for the experience, plays one tournament and wants it to last most of the day? Or are they designed for the people who are coming here and playing every day?"

WSOP tournament director Jack Effel acknowledged that they want to try to make the experience meaningful for both types of players. The three-day tournaments were designed to play for about 12 hours on the first day, eight hours on the second and six to eight hours for the final table.

"It's a matter of finding a balance," Effel said. "We attempted to increase play, but apparently we did it in the wrong places. That said, I don't think that the structures are negatively affecting the chances of the top players getting through to the final table."

He added that he would be looking at the blind structures in limit events after this year's Series, and they would most likely start at a higher level but increase at a slower rate next year.

Some players were hoping that changes would be made to structures this year, but tournament staff has no plans to change tournaments on this year's schedule, noting that many people have planned trips and thought about their strategies based on the posted tournament structures.

Other players voiced concerns over the tent outside the Rio where some tournament tables are located. One wanted to know why the cash games couldn't be moved outside to allow all the tournament action to take place inside the Amazon Room, but Effel said that it would have been impossible, since they couldn't move the cage outside.

"The tent, on a scale of 1-to-10, was a 10 in terms of intention, and a 1 in reality," said WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack.

Bill Gazes, who finished second in the $5,000 H.O.R.S.E. tournament just two weeks ago, was concerned with the lack of space top players in tournaments have, especially players situated close to the rail.

"It sounds obnoxious, but it's really overwhelming," Gazes said, referring to the packs of people who lean over the rail to take pictures of their favorite players. "And I don't get any benefit from it. There's people breathing down my neck, and the room is so crowded."

Pollack acknowledged that space is an issue, saying that the WSOP outgrew the Amazon Room last year. Tournament staff will try its best to make improvements, but part of the charm of the WSOP is that fans can come and see the action for free, and Pollack plans to keep it that way.

"There are plenty of NBA players who will tell you that the fans in the stands are obnoxious and detracting from their ability to do their job," Pollack said.

All parties agreed that some fans need a better sense of etiquette, like the etiquette seen at golf tournaments, as players attempt to make decisions.

"The Sequestrium" was also a hot topic of conversation. Many players felt that it was unfair to those players who made a final table chosen for broadcast to not have the same experience, with friends and family supporting them, as those who play at final tables that are not sequestered.

Pollack said that if the program exists again next year, it will exist in an entirely different form. Players will not be hidden away from view, and fans will be able to watch the action live.

He also said that should the pay-per-view Web casts continue next year, Harrah's believes that players who make those final tables should receive some of the revenue.

While most of the 75-minute town meeting dealt with player concerns, Rafe Furst, who won a WSOP bracelet last year, took a few minutes to mention all the improvements that he has seen, including the variety of tournaments, shorter lines for the bathrooms, the fact that there is no smoking in public areas outside the Amazon Room, and that players can give officials input through "town meetings" and players councils.

Pollack said he hopes to have another town meeting later in the Series. No time or date have been announced.

Tournament structure, 'Sequestrium' top player concerns at WSOP 'Town Meeting' is republished from CasinoVendors.com.
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Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.

Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd was an editor/writer at Casino City for nearly eight years, and is currently the Assistant Director of Athletics for Communications and Marketing at St. Lawrence University, his alma mater. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and Badugi.