First, the WSOP is taking a forward step by adopting a big blind ante format for all No-Limit Hold ’em events. However, it’s taking two steps back in adding more chips to the starting stacks in the majority of its tournaments.
Everyone loves the big blind ante
The big blind, or single-payer, ante first made its debut in high-roller events at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Essentially, instead of each player contributing to an individual ante, the player in the big blind pays a single amount for the entire table. Since the big blind moves one spot to the left for every hand, so does the ante.
It’s more efficient this way because dealers don’t have to spend as much time chasing players down for the ante. Plus, there’s never a need to call the floor over to determine who hasn’t coughed up the ante just yet. The result is more hands per hour.
The concept quickly spread to tournaments around the world, and the World Poker Tour has since adopted it. The WSOP tested it out on the WSOP Circuit and introduced it in several WSOP events in 2018.
Both the public and the industry have universally embraced the big blind ante format.
Tournament staff members say it makes events easier to run and things go much faster. Players love it because they get more hands per hour, which offers a better chance to take advantage of the deepest part of any structure.
As Tournament Directors Association Founder Matt Savage said in 2018, it is a change to No-Limit Hold ’em tournaments that works and is here to stay.
WSOP brass should be applauded for bringing this forward-thinking concept to all bracelet events, Daily Deepstacks, and Mega Satellites this year.
More chips do not equal more play
Unfortunately, they should be equally jeered for deciding to bump up the starting stacks in the majority of events again this year.
It’s a sales gimmick the WSOP has tried before. They add more chips to the starting stacks to give unsuspecting recreational players the illusion they have more play.
And, actually, it may offer them more play in the first few levels of an event. However, the WSOP designs its formats to make sure tournaments end when they are scheduled, not to reward skillful play when the big money is on the line. As a result, some of the most prestigious tournaments in the world turn into all-in fests at the end.
Until the WSOP decides to add more levels and more time to its tournaments, this shameful outcome won’t stop. So, the addition of more chips will always be just another WSOP attempt to draw players who don’t know any better into its events.
Give the public what it really wants
In general, there’s no doubt US poker players like bigger starting stacks. WSOP Vice President Jack Effel has confirmed that the WSOP is happy to oblige. He wants to keep the modern-day WSOP evolving.
The problem is that bigger starting stacks don’t really give the public what it wants. More chips simply mask the fact that time too often becomes a factor in these events.
Effel and the rest of the WSOP brass have run enough tournaments to know this fact. So, maybe next year, instead of another sales gimmick, they’ll take the time to educate the public as to what effect these measures really have.
Then, they can solicit feedback from its customer base once people have a better idea of how things really work — until then, obliging the public’s request for more chips to start with is an empty gesture.
Let’s be honest, though. What players really want is more chips at the end.