The 46th World Series of Poker (WSOP) is shaping up to be the largest ever, as well as perhaps its most trend-setting.
During a conference call earlier this week, Executive Director Ty Stewart, Tournament Director Jack Effel, and WSOP.com Head of Online Poker Bill Rini provided registration updates and revealed several changes for the 68-event marathon that runs May 27th to July 14th in Las Vegas.
World of Difference
Perhaps the biggest change for the 2015 edition is the fact that players will be permitted to multi-table by competing online at WSOP.com through a mobile device’s WiFi, while simultaneously playing live on the felt.
This monumental adjustment could help fight boredom during long hands, but it could also lead to monumental problems. Those who are in-play at the live table won’t be allowed to also be in a hand online, although exceptions will be made, WSOP officials said, since the potential for overlap is largely unavoidable.
Detailed specifics of the merging of online and live play weren’t revealed fully, and though it will unquestionably give the Nevada iPoker market a much-needed boost, it could quickly become the center of attention should headaches arise.
The most notable fact from the conference call is that the game of poker is as healthy as ever, with registration soaring to heights never seen before. The new $565 Colossus No-Limit Hold’em event was expected to bring in bundles of players, and it has, exceeding even WSOP expectations as first-time event.
WSOP brass were mum on specific numbers, but said Colossus is “off the charts,” already surpassing even the 2006 Main Event, the record-setting year that attracted 8,772 competitors, the largest field in the history of poker. And there’s still two weeks to go before WSOP even kicks off, so many more will yet sign up.
The Colossus begins May 29. Officials state it will set a new bar and smash the 2006 record easily.
New Cards, New Bracelets
WSOP brass also said they are swapping out their old decks for new Modiano plastic playing cards. More than 50,000 decks have been ordered, and according to the company’s description, the cards are “thicker and heavier” and “retain[s] its character and shape better.”
Jostens, the company most known for supplying high school and college class rings, is the official manufacturer for the prestigious gold bracelets this year. Instead of a simple inscription, the WSOP says the bracelets will be customizable for each winner.
The overall feeling of this year’s WSOP seems to point to a concerted effort to appeal to the more casual poker player.
Asked whether that was the case, Stewart said that WSOP is now aiming at more recreational players, with price points, chip stacks, and value-based offerings being key. That being said, he noted there would still be plenty of action for big bankroll pros as well.
In addition to the Colossus’ relatively low $565 buy-in and new WiFi gaming capabilities, the WSOP is also providing players with extra deposit options, and will award its first-ever online bracelet, although the final table will be played out live at the Rio on July4 .
ESPN is extending its broadcast of the tournament, with the November Nine expanding to three nights of primetime coverage. The decision to drop the $10 million guaranteed first-place Main Event prize to support 1,000 cash places is yet another sign tournament organizers are favoring the amateur over the pro.