Stewart Says 2011 WSOP Will Give Poker Its Swagger Back

The Penn and Teller Theater

The 2011 World Series of Poker will see a myriad of changes when it kicks off later this month, but organizers still believe the action will be as big as ever.

While pundits are predicting numbers will drop at the WSOP as a result of online poker's Black Friday, the WSOP says it did not have intimate relationships or business deals with the indicted sites and it should be business as usual for the series.

"We have seen the drawing power of the WSOP in the face of perceived challenges, like the passing of the UIGEA, and the pronounced global recession,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said on a conference call with media Wednesday.

“We think people love this game of poker and that they are starved to play. We expect this summer is going to give this industry its swagger back."

However, there will be a handful of changes to the way the WSOP does things:

  • Final-table action from 55 events will be streamed live on the web this summer.
  • will play host to the action with Jack Link’s Beef Jerky as the presenting sponsor.
  • The coverage will feature a wide overhead shot of the entire table and players along with a flop camera, while audio from the event’s tournament announcer will describe the betting action as it occurs.
  • Hole cards will not be shown and coverage will be delayed five minutes as per gaming regulations.

With streaming the $25K Heads Up, $50K Poker Players Championship and the Main Event, this the first time all 58 gold bracelet events will receive some sort of video coverage.

“We are proud to provide video of the culminating action to a worldwide audience in real time,” Stewart said. “This online initiative will complement our spectacular television package on ESPN and deliver even more of this year’s WSOP to fans who want the most immediate coverage possible.”

On most days, two final tables will be streamed starting at 2:30 or 3 p.m. PT and running until the event concludes.

POY System Tweaked

The Player of the Year system has also undergone a makeover this year.

The award will be based on a tiered points system based on number of players and level of buy-in per event in 2011 and the seven bracelet events on the WSOP Europe schedule will also be included.

In addition to the 58 bracelet events, the WSOP will offer more satellite, side-event and cash-game action than ever before.

And although the footprint inside the Rio remains the same with tournament action inside the Amazon and Pavillion rooms, players and spectators will notice changes including phone-charging stations and free wireless Internet in the halls.

As mentioned earlier, Jack Link’s Beef Jerky is back as a sponsor, as is the Miller Brewing Company - only Milwaukee's Best has been upgraded to Miller Lite.

Other sponsors this year include Blue Shark Optics, On Tilt, Klipsch, Dearform Slippers and Shuffle Master automatic shufflers, which will be used at the final tables.

Finally, changes have been made to the Hall of Fame.

Organizers have implimented a “Chip Reese Rule” stating a player must be at least 40 years old to be nominated and the nominating process will now involve an industry panel of players and media.

The 2011 WSOP begins May 31.

For comprehensive coverage click through to PokerListings' 2011 WSOP section.

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