In August of 2011, after the World Series of Poker Circuit changed all of its main events to a reentry format, I defended the decision. With the poker economy in disarray post-Black Friday, I thought it was a good idea for the WSOP-C to do what it could to increase the prize pools.
And that increase is exactly what happened.
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to cover the WSOP-C Main Event at Harveys Lake Tahoe. The tournament attracted 416 entrants, which was a 27 percent increase from 2011, and most all of the preliminary events saw an increase in entrants, as well. In fact, Event 4, a $365 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, had 651 entrants, making it the largest poker tournament in the history of Lake Tahoe.
In these small to medium-sized events, a single re-entry format can be the difference between an average prize pool and a great one. I have no doubt in my mind that the WSOP-C staff has no regrets about making the change, and is very happy with this positive trend in 2012.
Not all tournaments are equal however, and the re-entry format shouldn’t be applied to everything.
I’m looking at you, Bellagio.
1. Unlimited Reentries
On Tuesday, the World Poker Tour Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic began at the Bellagio, and, for the first time ever, there are unlimited reentries through the first eight levels of play. This sparked a debate on Twitter as to whether unlimited reentries are “good for the tournament,” and plenty of well-spoken, knowledgeable pros argued for both sides.
As someone who has never played in a $10,000 event, I can say I would never want to “take a shot” in a big buy-in event that had unlimited reentries. Likewise, if I had won a satellite to the Five Diamond, or I was lucky enough to win a seat through Club WPT, and I discovered the event had unlimited reentries, I would be livid.
How can you expect me to compete with the best players in the world when they all have extra lives?
So to me, therein lies the argument: is the Five Diamond supposed to be an exclusive event filled with solely professionals, or does the tournament staff want to attract as many unique players as possible?
If the Bellagio’s intent is to make this an exclusive event with the biggest names in poker, and the organizers know the pros will fire off multiple bullets, then unlimited reentries are fine. Hell, if they just want to increase the prize pool and the star power, then they should make the Five Diamond a $25,000 buy-in event and the WPT World Championship a $50,000 buy-in event. The sweat threads on TwoPlusTwo would be exciting, fans would be smashing the refresh button on the WPT Live Updates page, and the live stream would receive a ton of hits from around the world.
Tournaments with big prize pools and big names attract big headlines. Just look at the Big One for One Drop. If this is your business model, and this is what you want to achieve, then I have no qualms with the decision to make the event an unlimited reentry bonanza.
If the goal of the tournament is to attract recreational players, businessmen, satellite winners and online qualifiers alike, then changing the format to unlimited reentries is simply poor form. Some may argue that the experience of playing with the top professionals is enough to satisfy these players, but I don’t know how fun it is to have Vanessa Selbst, or any other tough, aggressive player with multiple bullets, pile chips into your face.
Maybe if you can get an autograph after getting piled on it doesn’t sting as much.
All of that being said, I believe there is a way for the Bellagio to receive the best of both worlds, and it starts by:
- Reducing the buy-in to $5,000. Swallow your pride, Mr. McClelland. Nobody is going to think less of your poker room because the Five Diamond is only a $5,000 buy-in event. By halving the entry fee you will increase the player pool significantly and bring a buzz back to the Bellagio Poker Room.
- Reduce the number of reentries to one. Everybody gets to fire two bullets if they choose to. This evens the playing field, allowing the professionals to go nuts with their first entry without having the recreational players feel like they’re at too much of a disadvantage.
- Keep evolving. For the longest time, players complained about the starting stack, the venue and the payout structure. The Bellagio, under new Poker Operations Manager Sean McCormack, addressed all three of these issues for the Five Diamond, and I hope management continues to improve the experience.
I am rooting for the Bellagio to succeed because it is a cornerstone of the poker world. The casino is moving in the right direction, and with a couple of simple amendments, it will once again be the best poker room in Las Vegas.
2. Jorgensen is Shot
When the news broke on Monday that Theo Jorgensen had been shot, my heart sank. Fortunately, he wasn’t fatally wounded, and his family is safe, too.
I’ve covered Jorgensen many times, but at WPT Grand Prix de Paris I interacted with him for the first time. Being a returning champion he had a bit of swagger at the Aviation Club de France, but more than anything he was fun-loving, quick-witted and friendly. On Day 4, he and Philipp Gruissem were seated next to one another and began talking about the tournament circuit.
“I live out of my suitcase,” Gruissem told Jorgensen, grinning. “I have no home.”
Jorgensen was taken aback. “I can’t do that,” he told Gruissem. “I’ve been here only for a few days and I’m ready to go home.”
Jorgensen was so ready to go home that he didn’t even rebook his hotel room for the penultimate night of the tournament until the very last second, asking a WPT representative to take his credit card while there were only a dozen or so players remaining in the field.
Unfortunately, it was at his home where three masked men forced their way in and demanded money. Jorgensen gave them both U.S. dollars and euros, but the robbers wanted more and shot him three times in the leg — in front of his wife.
In the wake of this incident, the Danish media hasn’t been too kind to the Jorgensen family. According to Jorgensen’s Facebook wall, some members of the media have criticized him for not having a “secret address,” while others have knocked at the front door, looking for a comment from his wife.
This is the second well-publicized incident of an attack on a professional poker player in the last 12 months. On December 21, 2011, it was reported that Jonathan Duhamel was the victim of a home invasion. He suffered wounds, though he wasn’t shot, and had his 2010 WSOP Main Event bracelet stolen.
One can only hope that these violent acts will not continue, but for the time being, perhaps the pros need to become more guarded. “Secret addresses” may not be necessary, but a little extra security for those without one could be lifesaving.
3. Iacofano Owning
Does the name ring a bell? Well, Mr. Iacofano, who relocated to foggy London town to grind online after Black Friday, finished runner-up in the Sunday Million back in April, earning $175,559.15.
Iacofano, who is a huge Cleveland Browns fan, tweeted the following after his big win:
I"m telling you whenever the Cleveland Browns win…..things get weird...Follow @icekevin
Indeed, the Browns won on Sunday, defeating the vaunted Oakland Raiders 20-17 at the Oakland Coliseum.
Iacofano’s success on PokerStars stems back to 2009, where he took down WCOOP Event #8: $215 FL Hold’em, earning $64,000 in the process. Earlier that year, he was on the wrong side of history at the WSOP. In Event #5: $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha, Iacofano was three-handed against Steven Burkholder and a gentleman named Jason Mercier. Mercier, who was just starting to light the world on fire, went on to win his first WSOP bracelet while Iacofano fell in third place ($96,128). On his final hand, Iacofano moved all in with a pair of kings and an open-ended straight draw on a queen-high board. Burkholder had flopped a set of queens, however, and held.
Since 2009, Iacofano has made several deep runs in marquee events. He finished 11th in Event #40: $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em / Six Handed at the 2011 WSOP, fourth at EPT Copenhagen in 2011, and sixth at EPT London in 2011.
Congrats to Iacofano for bringing home the belt this time. Unfortunately for him, the Browns are headed toward another below-.500 season.
4. Artyem Perlov Wins the DeepStacks National Championship
For the past few days, I’ve been in Uncasville, Connecticut, for the 2012 DeepStacks Tour Mohegan Sun National Championship. The event was awesome, attracting 251 entrants including well-known players like Selbst, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, Mike “The Mouth” Matusow, Tristan Wade, Allen Kessler, Chip Jett, and more.
Walking around the tournament room on Day 1, I couldn’t help but feel jealous watching the players grind with 40,000-chip stacks and hour levels. It was truly a paradise for deep-stack, cash-game-like play, and it allowed for the best players to maneuver their way throughout the tournament.
For example, David Stefanski, who crushed on Day 1, wasn’t able to get anything going on Day 2. Since the structure was so good though, he wasn’t forced to make any rash decisions that would’ve endangered his tournament life. Instead, he peacefully grinded his way through the tumultuous times, and eventually found himself at the final table.
Stefanski was unable to take the title, however, although he did receive $70,000 after a four-handed chop. The eventual winner was Artyem Perlov, a fellow native of New Jersey. Perlov, who entered the final table second in chips behind Stefanski, slipped a bit at the beginning but was fortunate in one hand against Adam Bitker. Perlov floated on a flop with king-high, no doubt planning to do something devious on the turn, but ended up turning the nuts when he binked a gutter ball. He received a massive double up, and eventually defeated Andrew Sherman-Ash heads-up.
Here’s how the final table payouts looked:
*Denotes a four-handed deal.
Congratulations to all of the players, and I tip my hat to both the DeepStacks and Mohegan Sun staff for running an excellent tournament.
5. Seat Open: Randy Lew
PokerStars Team Online Member Randy “nanonoko” Lew is a very interesting character. It was mind-boggling to watch him break the Guinness World Record for the most hands played in eight hours, and his graph and his accolades speak for themselves.
PokerNews had an opportunity to sit down and talk with him for our Seat Open series, and I’m quite certain you’ll enjoy the feature interview:
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*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of PokerNews.