From a business standpoint the WSOP 2013 has been hugely successful so far on the NL Holdem side of things. The WSOP has done so many things flawlessly over the last few years to make it the event that it currently is. The Millionaire Maker blew away expectations and each NL field has been tremendous.
While the turnout has been great it has not transferred over so well to the limit and mixed game events. The WSOP needs to look hard at themselves when figuring out why this is the case. It is certainly not because the mixed games are dying and the WSOP is just a casualty of a much bigger worldy trend. That would be just an easy excuse to write off the downward slope in numbers. The fact is there are more mixed games and or limit games being played around the world on a daily basis than ever before. So why are the limit and mixed events at the WSOP not also growing in conjunction?
I believe it is a problem that can easily be fixed. The mixed events offered at this year’s WSOP are designed with the severe flaw of trying to do too much as a middle ground for what players’ want.
The WSOP needs to rid itself of $2500 and $5000 events in the mixed games arena. Each discipline of the mixed games should have a $1500 event and also a $10,000 championship event. There is a huge psychological barrier when the entry fee jumps from $1500 to $2500 in any event. We lose many amateur players who are such a large percentage of the field without that jump in price. Many casual poker players will take a shot for $1500 in a discipline they feel less than confident about but will not take a shot for $2500. There is an invisible barrier there that is not easily definable but is there nonetheless. The fields would be dramatically larger at the $1500 level and the prize pools would always follow. I am convinced by having a $1500 event in any discipline of the mixed games would spur continued growth year over year for any limit event. I would really like to see that begin for the WSOP in 2014.
The $5000 events do not attract many players that would not also play the exact same event at a $10,000 buyin instead. In fact an overwhelming majority of the players in a $5000 mixed game event would prefer to have the buyin priced at $10,000. All the WSOP accomplishes by having $5000 events in place of the $10,000 is to greatly reduce the prizepool and in turn reduce interest from the poker community. A $10,000 Stud might only get 80 players. A $10,000 Omaha H/L might only attract 170 players. But these small fields are not a bad thing for the WSOP. This would bring the romance back into these ‘Championship’ events. These final tables will be full of superstars which is what the mixed games and the WSOP both need. There is something special about a 10k that can’t be duplicated with a 5k no matter how you cut it.
$1500′s and $10,000′s each serve a great purpose and each do it well.. $2500′s and $5000′s try to do too much and wind up doing nothing to benefit the long run. $1500′s produce large participation and build new interest in each discipline. $10,000′s bring the intrigue and puts our stars on the stage.
This is a win win plan. Win for the players. Win for the WSOP brand.