Hyper Hold'em a Welcome Change for Some Players
The World Series of Poker generated quite a bit of buzz by rolling out a fresh schedule for this year's series with plenty of new and interesting events, one of which was Event #6: $1,000 Hyper No-Limit Hold'em, which began at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The brand new format, which bumps up the blinds every 20 minutes, saw nearly 90 percent of the field eliminated after just six hours. One of the other changes to the WSOP schedule was to give players bigger starting stacks, so this tournament is a stark contrast to the rest of the series aside from two turbos that feature blinds levels of 30 and 40 minutes.
That's a welcome change, according to some players.
"I love the format," Mohsin Charania said, who plays as "chicagocards1" online. "I'm not a huge fan of the new stacks. I don't want to play a four-day 5K."
Alex Masek has as much experience as anyone playing live tournaments with fairly shallow stacks. He's one of the most recognizable grinders on the WSOP Circuit and has plenty of hardware to show for his efforts, holding the record with eight WSOP Circuit gold rings. Structures in the smaller buy-in events on the Circuit tend to be fairly fast early on as levels are only 30 minutes for many Day 1s. He said he sees both sides of the coin as far as structures go.
"I know everyone loves the longer structures this year," he said. "I like them in general, but I also don't want to be here for 12 hours every single day."
Masek added that he would welcome a handful of hyper turbos on the schedule each year. He said he had plenty of amateurs at his table, as he didn't recognize a single opponent, and he thinks recreational players will find the format familiar.
"This plays like a $200 turbo you play in local casinos," Masek said, adding that it played much different than even last year's turbo event, which Doug Polk won. "That one played more like a regular tournament. This one will be like 10-big blind average stacks the whole way through."
Charania, who has two World Poker Tour wins and one European Poker Tour title among more than $4.5 million in live cashes, agreed that events like this are good for the poker economy. Shallower stacks introduce more variance, and that helps the recreational player.
"I'm a fan of anything that allows more amateurs to get deeper," he said. "They want to come in on Friday, play the final table on Sunday, and go home."
Still, Charania sees a decent edge for himself despite the increased variance. Both Charania and Masek said they felt players with heavier online backgrounds had a bigger edge in the hyper.
Charania's biggest wins have come in deeper-stacked events, but he has found plenty of success in turbos as well. He took down the recent SCOOP-H $1,050 No-Limit Hold'em Turbo for $198,000, topping a field of 1,100. He also draws on experience of playing in numerous turbo side events on the EPT.
"Obviously, there's a nuance to playing turbos," he said. "But no matter how good you are, you're going to have to win a lot of all ins."
Neither player managed to do so in this instance, with Masek finding the exit early on and Charania experiencing some early success before busting short of the money.
Usually, Masek said he doesn't mind splashing around early on and showing down some weaker hands to ruin his image, enabling him to get paid off in later hands.
"There was no value in that here because if you lose a third of your stack early, you're not going to get a chance to use your image," he said. "It was all fundamental poker today."
Nonetheless, both Charania and Masek are undoubtedly happy to see the tournament, which drew a healthy 1,436 runners, succeed. Both seemed like they would be happy to see more of them on the schedule, and a solid number for the maiden voyage is a good start.