Golf has the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. Tennis has the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. It’s time for poker to follow suit and establish four super-high-roller majors each year.
There is clearly a market for tournaments with six-digit buy-ins. This month alone there have been two $100,000 super-high-roller tournaments with a total of 76 entrants and a mind-boggling $250,000 super-duper high-roller tournament with 20 entrants. The combined prize pool of the three tournaments was $12.6 million, and by upping the ante, they captivated the entire poker world because fans love to see the best players compete for senseless amounts of money. They also enticed a slew of wealthy businessmen to play, including Bill Perkins who said at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure that a super high-roller in America could attract up to 60 players.
It seems obvious then that there should be four major $250,000 tournaments each year to showcase the most fearless players competing for ludicrous amounts of money. Some may disagree because the buy-in is too high, but the public wants to see the best of the best on the biggest stage, and right now, all of the major tournaments are only $10,000 buy-ins. That means they’re going to have huge fields and most likely produce a final table of unknown players. Let’s eliminate that chance by upping the ante. Unlike golf’s Masters, the events would be open to anybody — you just need a big wallet or the right backer to play.
In an interview with our own Lynn Gilmartin, Tom Dwan said there should be two, maybe three $250,000 tournaments a year. Upon busting, he tweeted that there should be five, and they should be held in Macau, Australia, Las Vegas, Monte Carlo and London. These locations are all appropriate, but let’s axe Macau and focus on the other four.
Don’t worry Tom, you still have the rest of the year to go there and crush the cash games.
The Poker Majors
The Australian Open (Aussie Millions, January)
Every year the Crown Casino proves itself to be one of the best poker venues in the world. The popularity of the Aussie Millions isn’t restricted to the tournament series; however, the summer weather is fantastic and tennis’ Australian Open is one of the most exciting sporting events of the year. Jonno Pittock and the rest of his team at the Crown deserve a ton of credit for impulsively hosting the most expensive poker tournament of all time this January. With just a few days notice, they were able to wrangle 20 players. Just imagine what they could do with more time to prepare and advertise. They could easily increase the field if they ran $12,500 and $25,000 satellites. Then the high-stakes players who are unwilling to directly buy in could win their way in. Also, if the Million Dollar Cash Game and the cash games in Maccau are any indications, there are plenty of Asian businessmen willing to gamble it up, as well.
The Monte Carlo Open (EPT Grand Final, April)
Monte Carlo, Monaco, is one of the most extravagant cities in Europe and, like the Aussie Millions, the EPT Grand Final at the Le Grand Casino always attracts wealthy elites along with the best players in the game. This year, however, the EPT Grand Final is being moved to a yet undisclosed location. But, convincing players to travel to a waterfront paradise is rarely difficult, and when you add great tournaments and juicy cash games, it becomes a no-brainer. Unlike Melbourne, Monaco is very accessible for the majority of poker players. Flights from North America and the rest of Europe are much shorter than the day-long trek players must take to go Down Under and with the tournament calendar as crammed as it is, it’s important that such a major event be as accommodating as possible. The combination of wealth, backdrop and accessibility make Monte Carlo a perfect fit as the setting of one of our four major tournaments.
The U.S. Open (World Series of Poker, July)
Every summer the entire poker world travels to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, making it an ideal setting for any poker tournament. The WSOP Main Event is always the biggest $10,000 tournament of the year, and since its inception in 2006, the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E./Poker Player's Championship has averaged more than 100 participants. Not to mention the action in Bobby’s Room, Ivey’s Room and any other side game is exponentially crazier during the WSOP because there are so many players and so much money in Vegas during June and July. If what Perkins said at the PCA is right, and wealthy American businessmen are willing to play in a super- high-roller tournament held in the States, then a $250,000 event at the WSOP has the potential to be massive. The only downside is the WSOP is such a long grind. Like the Poker Player's Championship it would have to take place toward the beginning so that players being stuck wouldn’t affect the turnout.
The British Open (WSOPE, September)
In a perfect world this event would happen later in the year, but London is too good a venue and the WSOPE is an important tournament that continues to grow. England is on par with America in terms of popularity of the game, and Sam Trickett’s first and second place finishes in both of the super high roller events this month will only create more buzz for the country. In recent years, the London Stock Exchange surpassed the New York Stock Exchange as the strongest in the world, and the city is widely considered to be the financial capital of the world. There are plenty of wealthy businessmen in the city with the bankrolls to play in a super-high-roller event and the established pro’s enjoy playing at the Empire Casino as well. In an interview with our own Gloria Balding, Phil Ivey admits he loves the city. “I come here every year for a month and I love it,” he says.
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