Barry Greenstein, Andy Bloch, and Daniel Negreanu have voiced anger and disappointment with the proposed 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournament schedule, claiming the dominance of Hold'em events does not represent the historical diversity of poker or the WSOP.
Out of the 44 events slated to take place at the 2006 WSOP, 35 are variations of Texas Hold'em with a majority of buy-ins averaging at $1,500. In fact, 7 bracelets will be awarded to players championing $1,500 No-Limit tournaments alone. The amount of Hold'em games comes at the expense of other, more traditional poker variations, including Seven-Card Stud (3 events) and Omaha (5 events), many of which have to share days and time-slots with Hold'em events.
While the pros understand the motivation behind a Hold'em-abundant World Series, they frown upon what they consider poor judgment on the part of Harrah's top dogs. "We all know that they will get more entries the way they have done (the schedule), but they are not thinking long term. I think they need to keep the uniqueness that the World Series of Poker used to have," said Greenstein.
Bloch feels the profusion of Hold'em events will dilute the inherent excitement of the WSOP, as players will be getting up every morning to play the same game. "For a tournament that is mostly Hold'em, five weeks of preliminary events is too long," Bloch said. "Getting up in the morning to play the same game every day is too much like work."
He further admitted, "Looking at the days that have two open events in the new schedule, it seems like Harrah's is trying to kill most of the remaining non-Hold'em tournaments." He continued, "More than anything else, the schedule shows a lack of consultation with the players who supported the WSOP for the 30-plus years before the television explosion."
Negreanu is perhaps the most bitterly disappointed of the lot, noting in a recent blog entry: "Screwed! That's how I felt when I saw the schedule. The World Series of Poker is an inappropriate title for this mockery. The World Series of Hold'em, sure, but how dare they call this the World Series of Poker when they've eliminated most of the other tournaments in favor of even more Hold'em events."
He continued, "Poker is dying. Not Hold'em of course, but poker as we once knew it is becoming extinct because the people in control aren't interested in helping poker flourish, they have a bottom line to think about that takes precedence over all else."
Lamentations aside, the legendary series will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for the second year in a row, and will consist of 44 events and award 44 gold bracelets. The first 4 days (out of 14) of the 44th event, the $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold'em World Championship, will commence on July 28 with a maximum of 8,000 players. The final table will take place on August 10. The WSOP's late starting date is due to convention bookings at the Rio's facilities in the earlier summer months.