5. Pot-limit hold’em
The World Series of Poker undergoes major changes to their schedule including adding or removing games entirely from the list each year. In 2016, pot-limit hold’em officially got the ax. The game faced criticism in the years prior to its removal but in the late 2000s, was one of the premier events on the schedule.
In 2008, the WSOP opened their calendar with the $10,000 pot-limit hold’em event. Over 350 players jumped in the event and the final table did not disappoint. If you’re looking for the largest cross-section of poker generations, this event is it.
Representing the online generation were Amit Makhija, Mike Sowers, and most notably, Patrik Antonius. Fans looking for the “older school” found it in Mike Sexton, Kathy Liebert, and Andy Bloch. When the dust settled, high stakes live and online professional Nenad Medic walked away with the title and $794,000.
In 2015, the same $10,000 event drew only 128 entries but featured a similar top-heavy final table lineup of Shaun Deeb, Paul Volpe, and Greg Merson.
The only place to find pot-limit hold’em on the upcoming WSOP schedule is in the Dealers Choice events and it will probably never be featured as its own event ever again.
4. The United States Poker Championship
In the golden-age of televised $10,000 buy-in events, the United States Poker Championship was can’t miss. The event took place at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, New Jersey starting in 1996. and had featured coverage on ESPN for most of the 2000s.
In 2006, the event hit a peak with full coverage from Day 1 all the way to the final table with reruns of the tournament airing non-stop on the ESPN family of networks. Even if you tried to avoid it, you couldn’t miss the sight of Alex Jacob walking away with $878,500 and the title.
In 2010, the event dropped to a $5,000 buy-in and attracted only 96 players. Then, maybe coincidentally or not, the event went away after Black Friday in 2011. ESPN was already in the stages of reducing their poker coverage but that was likely not the determining factor.
The series of bankruptcies filed by the Taj Mahal made running poker tournaments a low priority and in 2016, the casino officially closed its doors.
3. Michael DeMichele
One of the stars of the 2006 USPC came in the form of Michael DiMichele, who finished third in the event. DiMichele’s quiet presence at the table did not hinder the ability for both players and fans alike to recognize his spectacular play. He was already a legend in the making and DiMichele’s Q rating became even higher in 2008.
For better or worse, the 2008 WSOP $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. final table is one of the most memorable TV final tables of all-time. This is mostly due to Scotty Nguyen’s drunken antics as he went from beer to beer all the way to his fifth bracelet. DiMichele stood by as others fell around him and didn’t shy away from confronting Nguyen when he berated by the former Main Event champion.
He would finish second in that event, winning $1.2 million which would presumably set him up for years of success.
DiMichele cashed in only four events after that final table and has not recorded a result since 2011. There are rumors swirling on the 2+2 forums about DiMichele’s whereabouts but nothing conclusive is offered.
2. Rebuy tournaments
Before the re-entry craze consumed tournament poker, rebuys were the first wave of events considered “bad for the game.” Instead of a player being eliminated and going to the cage to try again, they would buy more chips at the table and keep their seat.
A format suited better for online poker received quality turnouts at the WSOP culminating in 766 entries and 2,258 rebuys in the 2008 $1,000 event. Rebuy tournaments were used in a multitude of games with pot-limit Omaha and no-limit 2-7 single draw getting their own piece.
Daniel Negreanu once bought into a rebuy event 48 times, thus fueling the argument of “buying a bracelet.” In 2009, rebuy events were no longer on the WSOP schedule and have not been back on since.
If you want to play a rebuy event for the nostalgic nature of it, they are still available daily in tournament schedules across the Las Vegas, Nevada Strip. However, the dream of winning a rebuy bracelet is all but dead.
1. The WPT World Championship
The World Poker Tour adds glamour into televised poker. Money on the table, exotic locations, and elaborate sets are all part of the WPT. Up until 2016, the most prestigious event on the WPT calendar was the World Poker Tour Championship.
All players who won a WPT event during the season received a free entry into the event that went from a $25,000 buy-in to $15,000 after Season XI. Winners, such as Chino Rheem and Scott Seiver, hoisted the WPT Champions Cup and brought the WPT year to a roaring end.
In Season XIV, the WPT pivoted to a new format. The WPT Tournament of Champions was instituted, limiting the field to only Champions Club members. For players looking for high buy-in action, the $10,000 WPT finale was instituted.
The first two years of the WPT TOC were held at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL. This year, the WPT has announced the event is moving to ARIA in Las Vegas. Curiously, the second “major” event is not listed leading some to believe the WPT Championship might be returning. Stay tuned.