Pros say $50k H.O.R.S.E. needs tweaking

Andy Bloch

The one tournament top pros wait for all year kicks off Friday.

But despite all the hype, and some changes to the structure this year, several big names feel the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event could use even more tweaking.

Over the past few years the event has become one of the most prestigious bracelets on offer at the Freddy Deeb and the man for whom the title is now named, the late Chip Reese.

As with all the tournaments at the 2009 WSOP, the event will feature a 50% increase
in chips this time around.

"More chips yes, but starting at a higher level," Daniel Negreanu said.

"The structure is good - all of the structures have been good. Look at the people who have been winning and they're all good players. That's a testament to the structures."

Andy Bloch, who came second to Chip Reese in the event's inaugural year, is also satisfied with the structures this year, but said perhaps the H.O.R.S.E. could be changed a little.

Daniel Negreanu
Bring back the No Limit.

"I think it starts off a little bit too low," he said. "Percentage-wise, starting off it's almost 100 big bets in a limit tournament and once you really get deep, it's going to get meaningless."

After only four years, the tournament is still in its infancy and many industry insiders feel there are still some bugs to work out.

In fact, ESPN dropped coverage of the event this year because H.O.R.S.E. doesn't necessarily make for great television.

During its first year, World Series organizers made the final table for the event a No-Limit Hold'em only affair. But due to player complaints, that format was scratched in 2007 and they moved back to playing all the games.

Negreanu, who helped create the format, thinks that was a mistake.

"I made that up because I thought it would appease ESPN and the viewers," he said. "It was a mistake to get rid of it and it's my push for next year that we fix the mistake and go back to No Limit Hold'em, get it back on TV and then it will be more prestigious."

The five game mix, including Limit Hold'em, Omaha 8, Razz, Stud and Stud 8, is often the same brands of poker played in the biggest cash games in the world, including the $4,000/$8,000 'Big Game' at the Bellagio.

Eli Elezra, who frequents the Big Game, suggested a real players' championship should include even more poker.

"I really love the eight game," he said "It's the new one and you can really see the skills. It makes no sense to make it five games for three days and then change it to No Limit on the last day.

"It's not fair, especially to the good Stud players. Make it eight games for the entire tournament."

But Barry Greenstein said going back to the No Limit Hold'em final table format might make the $50k H.O.R.S.E. truly a championship for the players.

"I think it means a better, more well rounded player will win it, because they have to be good at the Stud games and then finish with No Limit," he said.

PokerListings will have complete coverage of the event from start to finish beginning at 12 p.m. PT Friday.

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