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WSOP to delay Main Event final table
The World Series of Poker has changed and evolved in many ways over its more than 30-year-history, going from a vote for the champion to letting the cards decide, and adding events, moving locations and the dreaded sequestered final tables.
This year the big change that's got tongues wagging is that the Main Event final table will take place in November instead of on its original July 16 date.
What does that mean for poker players? After nearly two weeks of play to determine the final nine players, play will be stopped, chips will be bagged and the final-table players will get four months to rest, strategize and then play out the final table Nov. 9-10.
"Our intent is to provide an even bigger stage for our players," said Jeffrey Pollack, Victor Ramdin, Team PokerStars pro.
"A good poker player should be able to play at anytime of the year. Good poker players don't rely on hot cards or their opponents being on tilt. This is a great thing for pros and poker."
Daniel Negreanu, also a member of Team PokerStars and a WSOP Players Advisory Committee member, agreed that the change is a good thing.
"This is a huge step forward for poker and more specifically poker on television because it will help create more buzz around the final table, and that is good for all of us," Negreanu said.
"Not only will this innovative step create more buzz for the final table, the added time prior to the final table will help get poker mainstream media attention. I'm very excited about this decision and can't wait to see it all unfold, hopefully from a seat at the final table!"
Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the change, however.
Victoria Coren pointed out that the WSOP is all about the clock ticking down, the blinds going up and the field gradually reducing from thousands to find a champion.
"If the whole thing was put on pause until November, all that tension and excitement would be dissipated for spectators and fans," Coren said. "Personally, when November comes round, I'm all excited about the new [European Poker Tour] season, and I don't care about the WSOP any more until the following year."
"It might be huge for the continued growth of poker; however, if the chip leader is someone you play against regularly either online or at your local casino, of course I am going to come to you for advice," Raymer said.
Raymond Rahme, who made the final table in 2007, said he thought the way the Main Event was run in the past worked well.
"However, if the aim is to gain more TV coverage, then they will most likely succeed," Rahme said. "I don't think these changes would favor amateur players over the pros or vice versa."
The 39th annual WSOP will begin May 30 and includes 55 events this year. ESPN will begin broadcasting its coverage of the WSOP July 22 and provide two hours of original poker programming every Tuesday through Nov. 11.
On Nov. 4, ESPN will air a special preview of the Final Table in preparation for its play. Organizers expect to crown the winner of the Main Event in the early hours of Nov. 11, and ESPN will edit down the two-day final table action and televise it from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Nov. 11.
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