The World Series of Poker announced Tuesday that they would guarantee payouts to the top 1,000 finishers in the WSOP Main Event, increasing by approximately 50 percent the number of players who would walk away from poker’s biggest tournament having cashed.
The decision comes after players reacted negatively to the WSOP’s initial plans for the event, and then asked players and fans to take a short survey about what they’d like to see in the Main Event.
When the WSOP first announced their preliminary dates for the major tournaments in the festival last month, they noted that the $10,000 buy-in Main Event would feature a $10 million guarantee for the second consecutive year.
Perhaps surprisingly to the organizers, player reaction on Twitter wasn’t just negative, it was nearly universally opposed to the idea.
Unhappy customers pointed out that the guarantee made the payouts very top-heavy, that a $10 million top prize didn’t generate any more interest than an $8 million or $9 million haul, and that recreational players were mostly motivated by a desire to cash, with winning just being a fanciful dream for most players.
While WSOP officials initially defended their decision, they did ask for more input from players. It now seems like that input was taken into account, as the new format is dramatically different.
At least 1,000 places will be paid, with a minimum cash of $15,000, compared to $18,406 last year.
In addition, every final table member will be guaranteed a prize of at least $1 million, spreading the wealth a little more at the top of the event as well.
“The dream of life-changing money is core to the DNS of the WSOP Main Event and we also want to make it easier to experience playing in poker’s Big Show,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP, in a press release. “Our players understand numbers, and 2015 now presents the best odds ever to leave the Main Event a winner.”
Technically, the 1,000 payouts aren’t entirely guaranteed: a note at the bottom of the WSOP press release announcing the new structure notes that there will have to be at least 5,000 entries in order to pay out 1,000 players.
But getting that field is nearly a mortal lock, as every WSOP Main Event since 2006 has had at least 6,300 players.
If the field were to match last year’s tournament, which drew 6,683 players, the winner would go home with significantly less money: $8 million instead of the $10 million won by Martin Jacobson in 2014.
But only 693 players were paid last year, meaning an extra 307 players would go home having made a profit under the new format.
The complete 2015 WSOP schedule is expected to be finalized in the coming weeks, with series organizers saying that there will be 60 or more bracelet events offered on the schedule.
The Main Event is set to begin on July 5 with the first of three starting flights.
It will then continue through July 14, when the final table will be set; the “November Nine” will then return four months later to determine who will become the 2015 World Champion.