The World Series of Poker has gone through numerous changes since it began in 1970.
Those changes have happened more rapidly since the poker boom, as organizers have tried to constantly adjust the series to meet the wants and needs of players at the year’s most important tournament festival.
Last year’s changes included a $10 million guarantee for the Main Event winner, a prize that organizers initially announced would return this year.
But many players said that the guarantee was actually hurting the Main Event: after all, few amateur players even dream of winning the tournament.
To grow the tournament, they said, it would be much better to improve the average recreational player’s chances of cashing, a more achievable goal that would still give a player something to brag about for the rest of their lives.
Organizers Adjust Payouts to Appeal to Players
As it turned out, the organizers listened.
On Tuesday, the WSOP announced that they would be replacing the $10 million guarantee with a different kind of promise: a guarantee that 1,000 players would cash in the Main Event.
While that guarantee is based on a minimum of 5,000 players participating in the tournament, that shouldn’t be a problem: after all, each of the last ten Main Events has easily surpassed that number.
Last year, a total of 693 players cashed in the tournament, with the minimum prize being $18,406.
Of course, with 1,000 players cashing, the minimum cash will have to come down: the WSOP projects that it would now be $15,000 instead.
But that’s still a significant win for a recreational player, and more than enough to make it feel like a win for anyone who cashes after paying their $10,000 buy-in.
“The dream of life-changing money is core to the DNA of the WSOP Main Event and we also want to make it easier to experience playing in poker’s Big Show,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said in a statement. “Our players understand numbers, and 2015 now presents the best odds ever to leave the Main Event a winner.”
Tournament Champion Will Still Win Big
Eliminating the $10 million guarantee won’t disappoint the eventual 2015 WSOP Main Event winner too much.
If this year’s field is the same as in 2014 (6,683 players), the champion would take home an $8 million prize.
As an added bonus, there’s a second guarantee that has been added to this year’s tournament: all nine final table members will win a minimum of $1 million for their accomplishment.
These changes may have been prompted by the strong reaction from players after the WSOP first announced their plans for the 2015 Main Event.
On Twitter, players pointed out that large guarantees for winners in poker’s premier event threatened to funnel money in the poker economy to the top without generating much in the way of added interest from recreation players, especially if those players couldn’t afford to come back the next year.
By shifting $1-2 million from the top prize to more cashes at the bottom of the prize ladder, they said, there would be more happy players, and likely more return customers.
The 2015 WSOP Main Event will begin on July 5, with three starting days for players to choose from.
The tournament will then run through July 14, when the final table will be determined; the final nine will then return in November to crown a champion.