Mike Sexton is one of the most respected names in the poker community. So when he makes a point of suggesting changes to one of the most revered institutions in the game, it’s certain to get some notice.
Sexton wrote a blog post at partypoker.com in which he laid out some of his concerns over recent changes at the World Series of Poker, saying that while innovation is good, some of the latest adjustments to the schedule aren’t in the best interests of poker.
“I’m a partypoker and [World Poker Tour] guy and have no grievances against the WSOP,” Sexton began, explaining that he wasn’t trying to criticize a rival but rather offer advice to a series that he loved and respected.
“It has been remarkable to watch the transformation. I’m also ‘wowed’ by the WSOP’s organizational skills, the brilliant job they do operationaly and the entirety of the ‘three-ring circus’ that take place at the RIO every year.”
Sexton Believes November Nine “Doesn’t Put Players First”
That said, Sexton continued, he feels that there are some problems with some of the latest innovations at the WSOP. In particular, he singled out the November Nine as a change he would like to see rolled back.
Among his issues with it include the fact that the WSOP gets to hold the remainder of the prize money for four months, it gives players that same time to improve their games and train, and that it punishes players who are in shape for a long grind by giving everyone plenty of time to recuperate before the final table.
He also pointed out that there will likely be a year when a player from a faraway country comes into the final table extremely short stacked, meaning they’ll have to wait months simply to likely lose within a few hands.
“Simply put, the November Nine doesn’t put players first,” Sexton wrote. As an alternative, he suggested having just a two day break, enough time for friends and family to get to Las Vegas, for players to rest and to do interviews before the final table began.
Events in Europe, Asia Also Attacked
Sexton had other concerns about the modern WSOP as well. He voiced his opposition to the practice of including the results of tournaments during the WSOP Europe and WSOP Asia-Pacific in the WSOP Player of the Year standings.
“We all know this is decision strictly based on business factors as it will lure anyone in contention for POY to Australia or Europe, but to me (and I’m guessing at least 80-90% of the players you ask),” that award should go to the player who performs best in Las Vegas,” Sexton wrote. He added that while he has no problem with the number of bracelets now being awarded in Las Vegas, the additional bracelets awarded in Europe and Asia were too much for him.
Ty Stewart Responds
Sexton’s words were strong but respectful, and they quickly elicited a response from World Series of Poker Executive Director Ty Stewart, who left a reply directly in the comments below the blog post.
“The November Nine has always been about putting players first, albeit more focused on the future players we all so desperately need,” Stewart wrote. “It is absolutely fair to criticize, but this is a noble endeavor to give poker as an industry its due.”
Stewart also defended the decision to expand to Europe and Asia, and then wrapped up by saying that the WSOP is being run primarily in the best interests of the poker world.
“I’d just like to say that we believe we have [the] right to operate a fair business with the WSOP event and brand, we are almost always guided by simple endeavor to do the right things for the right reasons,” he wrote.