10 Questions Heading Into the 2016 WSOP

Steve Ruddock : May 31st, 2016

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It’s that time of year. The World Series of Poker is about to get underway on Wednesday, and as is always the case, the 2016 WSOP kicks off with a number of interesting questions that will hopefully be answered by the time the WSOP Main Event final table is decided.

Here’s a look at the 10 questions I have entering this year’s WSOP.

Will the Top Up Turbo be this year’s Modiano?

The melding of live and online poker is pushed to its limits with the Top Up Turbo event.

I’m not only interested in seeing how well attended this tournament is, but also how much controversy it stokes (like the much maligned Modiano playing cards from last year), as there is little doubt players will enter the Top Up Turbo event not fully understanding the structure.

In order to double your starting stack in this event (that’s the “Top Up” part of it) you need to cash in a Sit & Go tournament at WSOP.com Nevada. With no mention of the online element in the tournament’s official name I can see WSOP staff having to patiently explain to multiple irate poker players why they’re starting the tournament with a chip deficit… unless you want to pay double the price for double the starting stack; which is the other option.

My guess is, the explanation will not be well received by the complainants.

Will the new Media Czar position pay off?

The WSOP Twitter account is usually good for at least one controversy every year, and while some of us will miss the snark and no nonsense attitude that @WSOP has displayed in years past, this year they’ll turn the reins over to the best in the business, Kevin Mathers.

With KevMath in charge of the official WSOP Twitter account the poker world can expect lightning fast, and super-accurate responses to their queries, as well as a bit more patience with the general public and the gripes of the professional poker community… just don’t ask about live streams.

Will Colossus II set attendance record?

The original Colossus saw over 14,000 players descend on Las Vegas for the $565 tournament, and create waiting lists that stretched into the hundreds at poker rooms across the city, and this year Caesars and the WSOP is hoping to eclipse that number, and by a wide margin.

With hundreds upon hundreds of people qualifying online this time around, Colossus II is almost certainly going to be bigger, which leads to the question, will it be too big?

According to WSOP tournament director Jack Effel, the answer to that question is no.

“We can get 9,000, 10,000 players in a day,” Effel told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Thirty-thousand has been my number all along to be able to handle over the course of the three days and six flights.”

Will Howard Lederer show his face?

In a case of peculiar timing, Howard Lederer issued an apology to the poker world for his actions (or better said lack of action) during his time as board member at Full Tilt Poker.

Many in the poker world see Lederer’s mea culpa as a way for Lederer to test the waters for a potential return to the World Series of Poker this year.

It will be interesting to see if:

  1. Lederer does show up at the Rio to play in WSOP events;
  2. How poker players react to his appearance, particularly when you account for the sheer size of the man.

If I had to guess, I’d expect him to show up specifically for the Main Event, or towards the very end of the series, and for most people to treat him with ambivalence.

How will Nolan Dalla be received?

Nolan Dalla has been pulled from his usual behind the scenes role in the poker world and thrust smack dab into the poker spotlight, following some very serious allegations by Dr. Jaclynn Moskow stemming from a 2014 appearance on the poker show Poker Night in America.

Like Lederer’s potential return, the timing of these allegations could create an issue at the WSOP, where Dalla serves as the media director.

I’d imagine Nolan’s job will be exponentially more difficult this year, and his mood more somber with these accusations still fresh on everyone’s mind and swirling. The story itself could lead to some uncomfortable moments, as many poker players have already taken a side when it comes to guilt or innocence, and may be icy to the longtime poker media stalwart.

Is 2016 going to be a breakout year for women?

Every year the poker world gets excited about the possibility of women having a breakout year at the WSOP, and every year it turns out to be more or less a wash.

In recent years women have done quite well, winning several open bracelets, but we still haven’t seen a spike in female participation rates in poker.

This is why I’ve come to the conclusion that for women to have a breakout year a woman will have to make the WSOP Main Event final table (something that has only happened once, way back in 1995) and likely she’ll have to be in contention for the title. Anything less, even women winning 10 preliminary event bracelets, won’t do much to move the needle.

Over/Under on the Main Event?

The attendance of the Main Event is often used as a bellwether of sorts for poker, and every year people take their best guess at determining if attendance will be up or down from the previous year and by how much.

  1. 2003 WSOP — 839 entrants
  2. 2004 WSOP — 2,576 entrants
  3. 2005 WSOP — 5,619 entrants
  4. 2006 WSOP — 8,773 entrants
  5. 2007 WSOP — 6,358 entrants
  6. 2008 WSOP — 6,844 entrants
  7. 2009 WSOP — 6,494 entrants
  8. 2010 WSOP — 7,319 entrants
  9. 2011 WSOP — 6,865 entrants
  10. 2012 WSOP – 6,598 entrants
  11. 2013 WSOP – 6,352 entrants
  12. 2014 WSOP — 6,683 entrants
  13. 2015 WSOP — 6,420 entrants

Based on the last five years, the line should probably be set at about 6,500 entries. There really isn’t anything occurring in the larger poker world that leads me to believe 2016 will be a better year than 2015, but I’ll caveat that prediction by saying there hasn’t been much rhyme or reason when it comes to turnout since 2007.

What prop bet stories will emerge?

We’ve already learned of Dzimitry Urbanovich’s lofty goal of winning three bracelets during his rookie campaign at the WSOP, which would net him $2 million courtesy of Vanessa Selbst, but this is only the tip of the iceberg, and we’ll likely hear about several other prop bets from the 2016 WSOP before the summer comes to a close.

Like Jason Mercier’s all takers bet:

And, if Bill Perkins is around you can expect some very intriguing stories to emerge on this front.

What impact will the GPL have on the WSOP?

During the WSOP summer series there will be another show in town, Alex Dreyfus’s Global Poker League.

With most of the league’s players all congregated in the same locale for the first and likely only time of the year, the GPL is taking advantage of the coalescing of the poker world in Las Vegas to host its first live matches of its inaugural season.

It’s unclear if the GPL and WSOP live streams will have a buoying effect on one another or if the two products will compete for the same audience.

Is this the last year Caesars runs the WSOP?

There are rampant rumors that Caesars has put its Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) division up for sale, and part of CIE’s portfolio is the World Series of Poker and WSOP.com online offerings. If the rumors are true, and someone comes up with the purported $4 billion asking price (a seemingly exorbitant price mainly driven by Caesars incredibly successful social gaming products) this could be the last time we see Caesars run the WSOP.

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