As preparations kick into high gear for the 36th Annual World Series of Poker (now less than two months away), Harrah's officials are refining the schedule for what could be a tournament that draws as much attention as the $10,000 World Championship Event.
When the schedule of events was announced last year, many of the world's top poker professionals bemoaned the fact that No-Limit events dominated the schedule. To accommodate these players, Harrah's introduced a tournament that would not only redefine who could be considered the best poker player in the world but also set a new level for entry into a tournament. The $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event immediately made an impact and drew the accolades of many in the poker world.
Originally scheduled for July 25th, the event has now been moved to July 12th and made into a three day event, with the final table being played out on July 14th. Harrah's has moved the event previously in that slot, the Deuce-To-Seven Lowball tournament, to the 25th. Reasons for the move are obvious.
The most obvious one is for television. ESPN requested the move to accommodate for taping the event for broadcast during their coverage of the 2006 tournament. Having the $50K event running right before the start of the Championship Event would have had the ESPN crew scrambling to not only cover the highest buy-in event in the history of poker but also to cover the start of what will be the largest Texas Hold 'Em event in history. The $50K event should draw the biggest names in poker and, as such, ESPN wants to make sure that they have all their attention on that final table.
Secondly (and wisely, in my opinion), the tournament itself will be a drain on the players participating. The mixed game format, featuring Texas Hold 'Em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Hi/Lo (also known as Eight or Better) is a tremendous mental test for the players involved. As all the disciplines are limit events and the levels won't move up until a rotation of the games has been played, it will be a very grueling event and the players, once it is completed, will need some time to reload for the Championship Event.
The test of this event during the recent stop at the World Series of Poker Circuit event at Caesars in Las Vegas was quite successful. Fifty one players put up $5,000 for a H.O.S.E. tournament, with the final table dominated by recognizable players from around the world. Players at the final table included professionals David Plastik, Andy Bloch, WPT champion Al Ardebili and former World Champion Juan Carlos Mortensen. It eventually came down to 2004 WSOP runner-up David Williams squaring off against former European Poker Player of the Year Marcel Luske, with Williams capturing the championship.
If star power like this shows up at the table come July 14th, the $50K event at the World Series should be one of the most popular events ever. Kudos must be given once again to the Harrah's staff and this bodes well for their continued attention to the players and poker fans as the World Series of Poker draws near.
Ed Note: They have HORSE Tournaments every day at Full Tilt I play in them all the time. Surely, you can beat me. Sign up today.