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WSOP Preview: The Process of Changing Payout and Tournament Structures

WSOP Preview: The Process of Changing Payout and Tournament Structures 0001

Directly in response to comments from WSOP 2006 participants, Harrah's made some major adjustments in the tournament payout structure and the tournament blind and ante structure. The revised and 'flattened' payout structure is getting a lot of media coverage after a recent Harrah's press release. Let's look behind the changes to the reasons for the evolving WSOP structure.

Gone are the days when the Main Event winner will be splitting a $12 million dollar prize up among friends, family, backers and assorted litigators; while the bottom end 870-something finisher makes $4K on his or her $10K entry fee. Last year the $12M announcement was met by almost universal player response of: "Why so much?" and "Why not cap it at $10M and spread the wealth." Well that is exactly what is going to happen this year.

Like so many good ideas, it takes action by a few individuals to start the wheels of change. After the 2006 Series, our sources tell us that Barry Greenstein sent a "revised" payout structure to the WSOP staff; this was basically Barry's thoughtful response to the player reaction to the 2006 payout structure. His was the payout structure that became the template for this year's Series. But change does not come with a single stroke of a pen and one payout structure does not work for the diversity of events that the 2007 WSOP offers. No, it took over 200 hours of work between WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel and Players Advisory Council members (with significant input from Howard Lederer) to create the series of five unique Payout Tables. Think you know your poker? Check out the Shootout Pay Table on, and explain the gaps in the entrant numbers.

The changes in most events will result in smaller payouts on the top end of the tournament, basically the top 27 will receive less and the resulting increase in payouts in the bottom 90-95% of the pay structure. Last year's $12M first prize in the Main Event would come down to around $10M under the new structure and the bottom end players would take home $20K instead of $14K. All of the 2007 WSOP events will change in a similar fashion. The changes do not add more players to the payout structure but simply more money to those who do burst the bubble at the low end of the pay scale.

Right along with the payout structure changes were the changes to the blind and ante structure for all events. As previously announced, every event in the 2007 WSOP will start with double the chips from last year. Gone are the days where one big hand in round one of a 1500 chips event made you an automatic short stack. Again, a lot of hard work and collaboration between Jack Effel, Howard Lederer and the WSOP staff has created a new set of tournament structures that will allow for more play.

This is not to say that the starting chips were doubled and the structure left unchanged. To quote Assistant WSOP Tournament Director, Jimmy Sommerfeld's classic line: "At some point in the tournament you have to bust some players out." But change in the blind and ante structure allows for at the very least 70% more play for the prudent, patient player until their Aces get cracked back-to-back. Tournament Structure sheets can also be found on

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