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Daniel - Poker Journal

Tournament of Champions

06 Nov 2005

The TOC was a nice way for them to give something back to the players- a $2 million free roll to those players that followed the WSOP circuit events and/or made the final table at the main event.

They didn't have to do that, but it was a nice promotion and certainly helped garner some interest for the WSOP circuit events. The rules were simple: from the five stops on the Circuit, if you finished in the top 20 at one of the stops you would qualify for the Tournament of Champions. Or, if you were lucky enough to make the final table of the main event you would also qualify, for a final total of 109 players with a chance at a $2 million free roll, or $18,350 in equity.

Early on, many of the players didn't believe that it would happen this way. I did, though, as naive as that may have been. I truly believed that they would keep their word and that would be that. At the time, I had no reason to think otherwise.

Well, they lied. To all of those players that went from circuit event to circuit event trying to qualify for that event, guys like Bob Hume, Harry Cullen Jr., Corey Bierria, Jonathan Schecter, Don Mullis, and several others, you all received a pay cut.

The players were promised on SEVERAL occasions that if they qualified, they would be facing off against 108 other players for a chance at $2 million. They were lied to.

It was announced about a week or so prior to the event that there would be three exemptions added to the list: Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Hellmuth! So how do you like that Corey Bierria! All three of those men had a chance to qualify just like you, but didn't make the cut. Ah, but that's ok, they let them in anyway.

They chopped into your equity Mr. Don Mullis without ever bothering to consult with you. Hey Bob Hume, were you ever consulted or asked to vote on whether or not it was ok for them to chop into your equity? Didn't think so.

Poker players are not stupid. Things like this are not forgotten. They took a nice gesture by giving away some free money and found a way to screw that up to.

Now, don't get me wrong I can totally understand why they would want to add some higher profile players to the event, but that had to be clear BEFORE Harry Cullen Jr. decided to fork over his money for the circuit event he qualified in.

Had they said this, "20 players will qualify at 5 different locations along with the 9 final table members from the main event and anyone who has more that 8 WSOP bracelets," then who could have a beef with that?

Since they didn't, how do you explain to the other players that they while they thought they only had to face 108 other players, that oh, by the way, you'll also have to face Doyle, Johnny, and Phil? How do you explain to them that you promised them $18,350 in equity, but that at the last minute you took about $500 out of their pocket and only give them $17, 850 in equity?

I played in a couple of the Circuit events myself in an attempt to qualify but didn't make it. That's totally fine, rules are rules and I was VERY happy to hear that the TOC players would get there based on a clear system as apposed to last year where the selection process was faulty.

Now this whole thing isn't a "huge" deal really, but where do we draw the line? What if they had told Don Mullis that they were going to add anyone who'd won a bracelet to the tournament? So then, rather than facing off against 100 players he would have had to face off against 200+ players?

Marlon Labbe, John Smith, Eric Cloutier, Tommy Reed, Glyn Banks, and all of the players who were lied to are owed at LEAST an apology. Equity was taken from their pockets and they didn't even have a say in the matter.

It's bad etiquette to complain about a "free gift," but not in this case. In this case, each player paid their $10,000 PLUS JUICE to enter the tournament knowing that if they made the top 20, they'd be getting $18,350 in added equity. Not to mention airfare, hotel accommodations, as well as food (the players weren’t t given as much as a free bag of chips!)

Of course, they don't want to talk about all that. Instead, they'd rather sneak it in under your nose so you don't even realized that you are being screwed. Had they told you Tommy Reed, that they were going to add these players, would you have voted YES, please make it more difficult for me to win the $2 million, or NO, they didn't qualify like everyone else, so they shouldn't be allowed to play.

Poor business decisions like this one leave a bad taste in customers mouths. The decision didn't really affect me personally, as I may have played the tournaments anyway, but this decision DOES affect every person who did qualify, as well as others who played in the tournament knowing that they would only have to beat 108 other players to win.

Hopefully stuff like this doesn't become the norm, but unless the players themselves band together and police these types of things internally, nobody else will.