It's hard to believe that it's already February. It seems like it wasn't that long ago that the entire poker world descended on poker's Mecca — the 2008 World Series of Poker. Long days and longer nights passed in the Amazon Room for nearly two months last summer. All of those days and nights came flooding back this week with the release of the schedule for the 2009 World Series of Poker. That's right. The 2009 WSOP is a mere four months away!
In 2008, there were eight mixed-games tournaments on offer. Three of them, however, were beyond the bankroll of most amateur players — Event #4, $5,000 Mixed Hold'em; Event #8, $10,000 Eight-Game Mix, and Event #41, $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. That left five different mixed-games events, ranging in price from $1,500 to $3,000, for the mixed-games enthusiasts in the poker world.
Things haven't changed much in 2009. Here's the condensed schedule of mixed-games offerings:
Wednesday, June 3 - Event #10 - $2,500 PLH / PLO
Thursday, June 4 - Event #12 - $10,000 Mixed Event (eight-game)
Tuesday, June 9 - Event #21 - $3,000 H.O.R.S.E.
Thursday, June 11 - Event #25 - $2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo / Stud Hi-Lo
Sunday, June 14 - Event #31 - $1,500 H.O.R.S.E.
Sunday, June 21 - Event #42 - $2,500 Mixed Event (eight game)
Wednesday, June 24 - Event #47 - $2,500 Mixed Hold'em
Friday, June 26 - Event #49 - $50,000 H.O.R.S.E.
Once again there are eight mixed-games bracelet events. The big change is that the $5,000 Mixed Hold'em event is gone, and has been replaced by $2,500 Eight-Game Mix. This is a great change for mixed gamers for two reasons. The first is obvious: the bankroll needed to buy into a $2,500 tournament is significantly less than that needed for a $5,000 tournament.
Secondly, and more importantly, it puts the eight-game mix format in reach for a greater segment of the poker industry. Mixed hold'em (which is not really a mixed game in the "pure" sense, but more like one game played with different betting structures on different rounds) already had a $1,500 event for enthusiasts of that format. Eight-game mix, on the other hand, was a new creation last year and was thus limited to just a $10,000 event. Replacing the $5,000 mixed hold'em with $2,500 eight-game mix makes the variety of mixed-games tournaments available to smaller bankrolled players that much greater.
Eight-game mix is now available on many online poker sites. It's a natural extension of last year's experiment with the inaugural eight-game mix tournament in that Harrah's should offer a smaller buy-in eight-game tourney this year. Eight-game mix is one of the truest tests of poker skills, and given its popularity online, this tournament should attract a sizable field.
Of course, there are some drawbacks to the new schedule. Mixed-games tournament tend not to attract as many runners as their no-limit hold'em counterparts. With the emphasis so squarely placed on no-limit hold'em, those tournaments get the most coveted slots on the weekly schedule — over weekends. Most of the mixed-games events start on either Sunday or in the middle of the week. The two big exceptions are the two tournaments beyond most players' bankrolls – Event #12, $10,000 World Championship Mixed Event (June 4th start), and Event #49, $50,000 World Championship H.O.R.S.E. (June 26th start). For the nine-to-five world, playing one or more of the mixed-games tournaments will require taking a whole week of vacation from the daily grind.
For players looking to play more than one event but not willing to trek to Vegas for longer than a week, there are two attractive options. Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha Hi-Lo / Stud Hi-Lo) and Event #31 ($1,500 H.O.R.S.E.) are close enough together in the schedule to allow a player to participate in both without killing his hotel budget. The other alternative is to play Event #42 ($2,500 Mixed Event) and Event #47 ($2,500 Mixed Hold'em). Either variation gives the player two different types of mixed-games tournament to play for a modest amount of money.
The WSOP offers some of the best tournament structures of any major buy-in tournament series in the world. Players interested in playing a slow, patient structure that rewards skill more than random luck would be ill-advised to pass up these tournaments. There is no greater feeling than sitting down with the best players in the world and beating them at their own game.