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Daniel - Poker Journal

The 50K HORSE- A One Year Blip

27 Jun 2009


I don't make all the decisions regarding the WSOP. I help out, I add input, and I speak out when I am passionate about something. This $50,000 HORSE event is something I'm very passionate about and the decisions ultimately made saddened me a great deal.

In year one, the event was perfectly designed for television. To get to the final table, you couldn't be an amateur really, you'd have to play all the games well for the most part. That's good, because it guaranteed big name players at the end. That's good for television.
What's not good for television is ANY form of poker outside of no limit hold'em. It doesn't work and the ratings emphatically show that. This is the reason it was so important to satisfy all involved by switching the game to no limit hold'em at the final table. That way, in order to win this special event, not only will you have to have great limit skills, but you also have to be good at the "Cadillac of Poker" no limit hold'em. It was perfect. Absolutely the perfect made for television event that would feature top pros, exciting poker at the final table, and most importantly, great ratings.

In year two, about five people may have whined and complained that it should be HORSE at the final table. They just didn't understand the big picture and why they were so clearly wrong. The event NEVER should have been changed, and make no mistake, it was CHANGED to HORSE at the final table, not the other way around. Those people should have been completely ignored because they just "didn't get it." Besides, they would still have played the tournament anyway.

Well, after two years of suffering ratings due to the fact that explaining and watching a Stud 8 hand is extremely difficult and boring, ESPN decided they just can't air it any more. The ratings were pitiful.

The smart thing to do was to make the change immediately back to the original format. Some people argued against my view. I knew with all my heart that those who disagreed with me were wrong, but there is only so much I can do. Majority rules. I was a bit shocked by it, and wished they'd just listen to me, but in the end the decision went the wrong way.

(Hate to Say I Told You So)

After three successful years of 143. 148, and 148 players, this year we got 95 and no, the economy was NOT the primary reason for that. Not even close. No TV is what caused it. Not for the reasons you might think. Not because poker players are so desperate to be on television, the main reason we lost so many players is that many pros today have sponsorship deals. Many of those deals are contingent on the fact that the event is televised.
For example, Pepsi might sign Joe Cassidy to a deal where he wears their logo. They might pay him a yearly salary and agree to pay his buy ins for televised tournaments. Well, with ESPN coverage gone, instead of Pepsi ponying up the money, Joe would have to fork over the whole $50,000 out of pocket. There is no longer any incentive at all for Pepsi to pay his buy in because they won't get any real logo exposure out of it.

Obviously I'm talking about online sites here. In past years the event has seen lots and lots of sponsored pros in event. Frankly, a lot of those players aren't exactly world class which adds EV to the grinders who play mixed cash games for a living. These sponsored players would never consider putting up $50,000 to play in the event, but if their sponsors are willing to back them, they'll absolutely give it a go.

So first you have about 25-30 sponsored players absent from the event, and then another 25-30 or so who don't think the tournament has enough value in it without the sponsored pros. We instantly lose out on 1/3 of the field, all because we didn't respect the fact that HORSE on TV doesn't work, and that TV is necessary to maintain the prestige of the event.


Now for the good news:

I'm very confident that the 50K event WILL thrive in years to come, and that this was just a one year "boo boo" if you will. I'm confident that the decision makers will see, after the drop in numbers, just how important it is to go back to the original format, and get it back on television. I'll be louder than ever in reminding them how important it is that this event continues to hold a high level of prestige.
In talking with some people today, I definitely felt more support than I did before in changing it back. We'll have it all fixed next year. All in all, I'm so incredibly happy with the amount of input the players have at the WSOP over the last few years. Every year you see improvements and less complaints. There will always be complaints, but we are all lucky that Jeffrey Pollack, Jack Effel, and the rest of the staff hear our gripes, take them seriously, and do what they can to address them. If only they'd just listen to EVERYTHING I say!!! Haha, just kidding, kinda, sorta serious :-)


Day one of the HORSE is in the books and I put on a great performance today. I was more focused then ever. Sorry to the railbirds, I wasn't as engaged with them as I normally am, but I'm playing with elite players and feel the need to watch every hand. My focus on day one here was better than ever. I feel like I really rose to the occasion.
This event is a good one for me. The last two years I've held the chip lead with about 20 players left and have yet to win it. I will win this thing, whether it's this year, or in future years. I excel at all five disciplines and honestly don't feel like I have a weak game in the mix. I'm very excited about my start and expect nothing less than a deep run. I always feel like one of the top favorites to win it, and this year is no different.

I'm currently in 23rd place with 91 of the original 95 still remaining with 204,100. I'm going to put a rubber band around my original 150k stack and hope I NEVER have to use it! My table for tomorrow:

1. Scott Clements 123,200
2. Allen Kessler 213,100
3. Erik Seidel 224,300
4. Daniel Negreanu 204,100
5. Andy Black 264,700
6. Chau Giang 145,100
7. David Grey 177,200

I'm happy with the table draw. It's a decent mix of action players and conservative, straight forward players.

HOLD'EM: Chau is good at everything, but Erik Seidel is also very good at limit hold'em.
OMAHA: The Omaha is a tough spot with Clements and Giang, both are loose aggressive and play well post flop.
RAZZ: No one at the table "scares" me in Razz.
STUD: David Grey's best game without question. He's not wild, or out there in Stud, but he makes very good decisions.
STUD 8: Maybe Allen Kessler's best game of the mix, I dunno, but who cares... it's Allen Kessler!

The biggest wild card at the table is Andy Black. I didn't even know he played limit, so I have no idea how he plays these games. I'll be paying especially close attention to him and looking for any exploitable flaws I can find.

Time for bed guys.... exciting day tommorow, 2500-5000 limit and a 4:00pm start.

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