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World Series of Poker hosts Town Hall Meeting on Twitch

29 January 2016

Touching on a wide range of topics — particularly starting times, payout structures and the colossal undertaking of managing The Colossus for a second year — two of the most recognizable and central faces of the World Series of Poker took to Twitch on Thursday afternoon to conduct a WSOP Town Hall Meeting.

Senior Vice President/Executive Director Ty Stewart and Tournament Director Jack Effel hosted the event, which lasted just over an hour and drew around 250 viewers. The stated goal was to introduce some of the changes the WSOP has been considering for 2016, and receive feedback.

Jack Effel and Ty Stewart discussed a number of different topics on Thursday in a WSOP Twitch Town Hall Meeting.

Jack Effel and Ty Stewart discussed a number of different topics on Thursday in a WSOP Twitch Town Hall Meeting.

"Jack and have both been at this for 10-plus years and I think one of our guiding principles that has helped us keep this job is pretty simple and that's to give the players what they want, within our ability to do so," Stewart said in his opening, adding that this year's WSOP schedule will be released in mid-February. "We've tried each and every year to make some significant tweaks to our format and most of that comes from discussions we have with players, whether it's on the rail, on social media or a phone call.

"Before anything is set in stone for this year, today we're asking for that last call of feedback so we can make 2016 the very best year for the WSOP yet."

With the help of a large monitor behind them that displayed a PowerPoint presentation, the affable pair concentrated on three main items and explained their reasoning in detail:

1. Time of play

Stewart commented that the No. 1 consideration for players when they decide whether or not to come to the WSOP is the amount of time they will have to spend in Las Vegas, and more specifically, how many hours they will spend inside the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. He acknowledged that last year about 30 events went beyond 30 levels and about 25% of the events went beyond the scheduled duration time.

"This has a snowball effect and the result is unhappy and burnt-out players and staff," he said. "We really believe a three-day format with about 30 hours of play is right for the majority of WSOP events. While it's probably counterintuitive, we want people to be able to enjoy Las Vegas while they are here. You shouldn't be chained to the table to get through a poker tournament."

With that goal in mind, the WSOP is considering multiple changes, including starting events at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., instead of the typical 12 p.m.; decreasing level breaks on Days 2 and 3 and playing an extra half-level on Day 2 so the final tables finish earlier in Day 3.

In addition, there could be a tweak to the structure of no-limit Hold'em events, with the removal of what had been level 5 last year (100-200 blinds with a 25 ante), so the tournament would jump from 100-200 blinds with no ante to 150-300 blinds with a 25 ante.

"While you will end up spending a little more per round, we'll eventually get to the same place," Effel said. "And at the end of the night you'll have an extra hour and 20 minutes to add to your life."

2. Payouts

Stewart said there has been a "big outcry" to increase the number of places paid in each event, but they have to keep a balance and ensure the top spots are being paid enough.

Added Effel, "The tournament can't survive without new players coming to the game. I think we're all in agreement on that. When players come to the World Series and win money, it makes them feel good and makes them want to come back. And that makes the event better and brings new players."

With that in mind, Stewart said they are "strongly considering" going over the "general principle of a 10% payout." In addition, they would ideally like to see most events hit the money bubble on Day 1.

"That way you don't have to come back on Day 2, bust out early, not make the money and then feel like you wasted time that could have been spent playing in another event, or elsewhere," Effel said.

"Ultimately, if we can keep play to about 10 hours a day for a total of 30 hours per event, get you away from the table by about midnight each night and potentially have more people hitting the money, it seems like we're on a noble path," Stewart added.

3. The Colossus II

In 2015, the inaugural The Colossus event achieved many of the goals it was meant to accomplish.

"It was the biggest freaking poker tournament in history," said Stewart with a wide smile. The event drew a record-breaking 22,373 entrants, including 5,500 WSOP first timers. "More people played in The Colossus than came to Vegas for the Mayweather fight (in May)."

Unfortunately, a poker tournament with that many players and a voluminous amount of moving parts was bound to experience logistical problems, especially in the first year, and that's exactly what happened. Registration was a nightmare for most players, and the payouts were equally bad, if not worse.

"The bottleneck it created was quite severe," Stewart lamented. "We decided if we were going to hold Colossus II, we had to make sure it was going to be a much better experience."

To that end, staffing will be increased and there will be three Day 1s with six different flights. In addition, first place will receive $1 million, a hefty increase from the $638,880 won by Colossus I winner Cord Garcia in last year's $565 buy-in event.

The payout structure will also see radical changes. Using a format successfully sampled at the Oktoberfest No Limit Event at WSOP Europe, players will be in the money with each opening flight and have the opportunity to cash multiple times in the same event.

"This gives players the opportunity to make money on Day 1, which is always a good thing, and then have a shot to come back and win the big money on Day 2," Effel explained. "We simply take the number of players remaining and those prize amounts from Day 1 and carry them over to Day 2. We then redistribute that money and make sure the minimum payout on Day 2 will be equal or greater than the maximum payout of any Day 1."

Stewart added that the result should see "more people cash in this event than any other in poker history."

"Our hope is that Colossus II will be a high-water mark for the industry," he said.

Other topics hit on during Thursday's discussion included:

  • Shot clock: Stewart said that despite the much-talked about slow play at last year's Main Event final table, the idea of a suggested "shot clock" will not be introduced this year. "We realize the slow play last year didn't make for good TV, but we don't want TV to be the driving factor in our decision," he said.

  • The October/November 9 will return: The Main Event Final Table pause will be back and, like last year, will be played over three days. But it will begin on Halloween, running Oct. 31-Nov. 2, one week earlier than normal, to avoid conflicting with the U.S. Presidential Election.

  • Automated Registration: The WSOP hears its players loud and clear concerning the installation of some sort of new system for event registration. "We've made a capital investment and we're working with our software provider," Stewart said. "We will come to a day where folks can bypass standing in lines. We're not sure how many will be able to take advantage of a new system this year, but it's something we are working on very seriously."

  • Quality of playing cards: Stewart conceded that the 300 micron playing cards that were introduced at the start of last year's WSOP "did not stand up to the wear and tear" of the event. By the end of the tournament they went to a 330 micron card and there were no issues, and that will be the case in 2016. Effel added that the new jumbo index playing cards have been "well received" and will be used again this year.

World Series of Poker hosts Town Hall Meeting on Twitch is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT