WSOP Colossus Pulls in Record Players, But Disappoints in Payout Structure

June 1st, 2015 | by Jason Reynolds
Colossus payout structure debate

Considering the enormous field of more than 22,000 players, many are up in arms over the largest-ever WSOP event’s payout structure. (Image: PokerSites.com exclusive)

World Series of Poker 2015’s Colossus is proving to be a massive tournament for the WSOP, breaking records left and right thanks to its massive field.

Unfortunately, one aspect of the tournament hasn’t quite lived up to its larger-than-life hype: the top prize going to the eventual winner.

Many players were stunned when WSOP officials announced that the winner of the Colossus would only receive a $638,880 payday, a figure that amounts to under six percent of the total prize pool.

While the raw number is still impressively large for a typical $565 tournament, the Colossus isn’t your average casino daily event, and most players were expecting a lot more for the eventual winner.

Field Size Smashes Tournament Records

The Colossus drew a field of 22,374 entrants, easily a record for both the WSOP and live tournament poker as a whole. Of that group, 2,241 will make the money, sharing in a prize pool of just under $11.2 million.

In a typical tournament, about 20 percent of the prize pool will be reserved for first. This is a very rough estimate, however, anywhere from 15 percent to 25 percent is common, and as field sizes increase, the percentage going to the top spots tends to drop a bit.

That meant that most knowledgeable players likely knew going in that the winner of the Colossus would be taking in a relatively low percentage of the prize pool. However, it seems that most expected that number to still sit around 10 percent or so; at the very least, it seemed only natural that the winner would take home at least $1 million, given the massive pot that had been generated.

When that proved not to be the case, poker pros and amateurs alike took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the payout structure. There were a wide variety of complaints, though most had something to do with the size of the top prize.

Flat Structure Leads to Numerous Complaints

Some were upset with the fact that the WSOP was making far more from its cut of the entry fees than the eventual tournament winner would take home. Others, such as poker pro Ryan Laplante, thought that the prize pool had been manipulated to make it “middle-heavy,” producing as many players as possible who would win an amount likely to get them to buy into more events at this year’s WSOP.

World Series officials scrambled quickly to defend the payout structure. In particular, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart found himself on the Twitter front lines on Sunday night and Monday morning facing off against angry poker players.

Stewart Defends WSOP Payout Formula

According to Stewart, the payouts in the Colossus were actually done precisely by the WSOP standard, using a method he called the “Golden Ratio.” It’s a system that has been used at nearly every WSOP tournament over the past several years, but one that resulted in some odd results when extrapolated out to a tournament paying well over 2,000 players.

“[The payout structure] wasn’t a change,” Stewart wrote on Twitter Monday morning, “just don’t think anybody looked at Golden Ratio for a [$565 buy-in] carried out to 2,200 places paid.”

Overall, Stewart said on Sunday evening, he thought that the WSOP had done right by as many players as possible by not playing with their formula to build a bigger top prize for the Colossus.

“The Colossus [is] about the field at large, and we’re happy that thousands will go home with a pretty strong ROI for their efforts,” Stewart tweeted while the debate was heating up. “We like getting praise but sometimes u have to do right thing. Going top heavy for PR value + short changing thousands would have been worse.”

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