While much of the attention of the fans and media will be focused on the battle for the bracelets' during the World Series of Poker, there is perhaps just as much action that will be going on away from the 'official' events. These cash games, satellite tournaments and 'second chance' events don't carry the prestige that winning a World Series bracelet may have, but their award is in a much more immediate form: either a seat in the $10,000 Championship Event or even cold, hard cash.
The history of the World Series has been that it is almost like a family reunion. In the beginning, players gathered to meet up with old friends, renew acquaintances and take part in the tournaments. The cash game action away from the tournament tables would be where the most serious work would take place, however. At these cash game tables the competitors would sometimes attack the game more vigorously than the official events that made up the World Series schedule. It was possible for thousands of dollars to flow at these tables as, at that time, the World Series was the only significant event and everyone marked their calendars for when each year's Series would take place.
As the World Series has grown to where it is today, the tournaments may have started drawing more of the attention but the side action is still huge. At the 2006 renewal of the World Series, this will be the case once again. Surprisingly, many players come to the World Series with no thought of playing in the tournaments. The side game action is at its most lucrative as at any point during the year and, as a result, the games are filled with excellent players. Definitely bring your "A" game if you plan on participating in any of those events in July and August.
In 2005, the Rio closed down the poker room and transferred all cash game offerings to the Amazon Ballroom, where the World Series was conducted. This will happen again in 2006 and there is plenty of play going on at all hours of the day or night. Action can be had across the board, from the smallest of levels to high end cash games and second chance tournaments that will perhaps allow some players to earn enough funding to take part in the official World Series events. The cash games will spread pretty much anything that the players request as well; it wasn't strange to hear of $1/$2 Limit Hold 'Em tables being filled alongside much higher stakes games during anytime last year. The games aren't limited to just Hold 'Em as Omaha, Seven Card and other rarely played games were seen in action as well.
Many players will be participating in the satellite tournaments that start on June 25th and there are several versions being offered. One, of course, will be the ever popular single table tournaments that cost $1000 and one person walks away with the seat at the Series (if no deals come to pass). The other two will be much larger events but will allow some lucky players to enter the $10,000 Championship Event on the cheap.
Two super satellite tournaments costing $225 will run at 3PM and 9PM. Rebuys (which get you another $200 in chips) are offered in the event, which should drive the potential prize pool further up the ladder. Once the rebuy and add-on period ends, a seat in the Championship Event will be awarded for each $10,000 generated by the field. This will be a difficult task as, by looking at the structure of the tournaments, it will potentially be a tournament driven by who gets the cards or the luck to side with them.
Players will start with $200 in chips and the blinds at $5/$10. The first three rounds will be open for rebuys and are thirty minutes long each. Once the first three rounds are completed and the add on period finishes (double add ons are possible), levels then drop to twenty minutes in length. As you can see, it will be a serious task for someone to win their seat through this manner and the seat is for the Championship Event only.
The mega satellites are offered for the players that will allow time for play at the tables. Each day of the World Series a mega satellite will start at 7PM with seats going for $1060 each. No rebuys are available in this event, so it is a little more complimentary for many players' styles. The players are given a $1000 starting stack with the blinds starting at $25/$25 and each level goes for forty minutes. This should allow for some play at the tables and perhaps not be as dependent on the "luck factor" in determining a winner. Once again, for each $10K generated from the field, a seat in the Championship Event (only) will be given out.
For those that have to raise some money to get into these events, there are "second chance" tournaments that will be played. These tournaments will be hotly contested as they will pay out in cash (OK, casino chips, but you know what I mean). While payouts for winning these tournaments won't be as large as for the official events (and lack the awarding of a bracelet), they will have major advantages in that they will be smaller tournaments and will be contested in several hours rather than several days.
Two second chance tournament options are available, a $540 tournament at 5PM and a $225 tournament at 11PM for the night owls. Both have comparable starting stacks ($1500 for the $540, $1000 for the $225) and blind structures are identical for both tournaments with thirty minute rounds. The payouts will be based on number of entries and will be posted for each tournament after they begin.
As you can see, poker at the World Series goes way beyond what happens in the official tournaments! With less than three weeks to the commencement of festivities at the Rio in Las Vegas, we'll continue to look at the entirety of the World Series as this series of articles continues.
Ed Note: Heads up is the purest form of poker. Great heads up action always at Pacific Poker