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Lunch with Jack Effel: Changes to the 2008 WSOP, Part 2

Lunch with Jack Effel: Changes to the 2008 WSOP, Part 2 0001

[Editor's note: In Part 1 of Matt Savage's talk with WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel, Effel discussed some of the changes in store for the 2008 WSOP. In Part 2, Savage relays the remainder of the issues he and Effel discussed.]

Jack and I continued with our lunch conversation, with the following among the changes approved by the WSOP's Player Advisory Council:

Event Structure: Since the inception of the WSOP in 1970, the tournaments have always been dollar for dollar. In 2007, WSOP management decided that they would follow what many of the other tournaments have done and give double starting chips. The biggest problem with giving more chips, in my opinion, is that the structure needs to be adjusted or you will have exactly what happened last year, too much play early and a crapshoot in the middle to later levels. The players on the 2007 PAC have themselves to blame, as they were given the structures well in advance and either did not look at them or maybe did not understand what the problems were. I am sure that the changes to the structure this year will be a vast improvement.

The "Poker Pavilion": The tent is gone. The tables have been removed and the tent will be replaced by a new, improved food area. The problems were well documented, as the tent was adversely affected by Las Vegas summertime weather. The plan for the 2008 WSOP is to have another ballroom available starting on the 14th of June, which is the start of the first $1,500 no-limit tournament with a single starting day. (The first no-limit tournament of the WSOP overall will have two starting days, May 31 and June 1st.) There are a total of eight $1,500 NL events in this year's schedule, and all will have one starting day except Event #2.

Registration / Payout Lines: A large problem that will be fixed this year is the registration. The 2008 WSOP's first event is Friday, May 30th. Registration opens up on Wednesday the 28th and will be open on a limited basis 24 hours a day. During core hours (10am - 6pm), there will be 16 windows for open registration and five more windows for registration for Diamond/Seven Star members. They have also increased the number of payout clerks to guarantee that you do not have to steam too long after taking your bad beat to depart.

WSOP Schedule: Wow! There are now eight $10,000-and-up events, including the Main Event and, of course, the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. World Championship. Added to the $10K list is the 2008 World Mixed Games Championship which includes the H.O.R.S.E. games, plus no-limit hold'em, deuce-to-seven, and pot-limit Omaha. Also among the $10,000 "World Championship" events are a heads-up NL tournament, the 7-card stud championship, Omaha-8 or better, limit hold'em, and the first event of the WSOP, the championship for pot-limit hold'em. With 55 bracelet tournaments, poker players around the world will have their chance to claim glory and millions of dollars. I think it is great that management has brought back many of the games that made the WSOP unlike any other tournament series.

No Alternates: Jack has also informed me that alternates will not be allowed and events will be capped at 2,760 players (276 tables, 10-handed). The exceptions are the Main Event and Event #2. This will encourage players to sign up early or run the risk of getting shut out.

Staffing and Dealers: While the top positions remain the same as 2007, Jack says that some changes have been made and he has a real good feeling about the team. Dealers who worked the 2007 series are getting the first opportunity to return to the most prestigious tournament, and for the remaining spots, auditions will be Tuesdays and Wednesdays from March 18 - April 30, from 7-10am those days.

New Satellite Area: Since the outdoor tent is now used for food concessions, the indoor area that last year housed the food will now hold the single-table satellites. This will in turn free up many indoor tables for bracelet events and improve the experience for the players.

Main Event Chip Colors: This was the biggest snafu from the 2007 WSOP in my opinion, as the colors of the $5,000, $25,000, and $50,000 chips were nearly identical. Not only did it make it impossible for media agencies to get proper chip counts but, more importantly, players were making mistakes. This has been addressed with the replacement of the $25,000 chips. We will have to see if the $5,000 and $50,000 chips cause any problems this year.

Handling the massive fields of the WSOP is a logistical nightmare, but I believe that they have addressed the major issues. I applaud the changes that management has made and I am hopeful that the WSOP will continue to lead the way for the success of poker.

See you at the final table!


Matt Savage is one of the world's most recognized poker tournament directors, and has been involved with over 350 televised events including the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour, and many others. Matt is a founder of the Tournament Directors Association, the first inductee into the Poker Managers Hall of Fame, and actor in the movie Lucky You. If you have questions about any rulings please send them to or check out Matt's website at

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