You read that headline correctly.The 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event, which will begin on July 3, will not see its champion determined until November.Harrah’s Entertainment announced the dramatic change to the world’s most revered poker festival Thursday, after several months of discussion and rumor.
What will happen is that the Main Event will be played as normal from July 3 through July 14.Once the final table of nine players is determined, action will pause.For months.The nine players will return to the Rio in Las Vegas to commence the final table on November 9.Play will again stop when two players remain.These two will play the heads-up portion of the tournament on November 10 until one of them is crowned champ.
ESPN production crews will work furiously November 9-11 (the heads-up match may very well not end until the 11th) to put together a two-hour final table program to be aired on the network on November 11 at 9:00pm ET.This way, poker fans can enjoy “same day” programming of the final table instead of having to wait a few months to see what happened (and probably hear about it in the meantime).
The idea behind this significant change is to build up the anticipation for the final table.With the long layover, ESPN will be able to broadcast human interest pieces on each contestant during the four month hiatus, hopefully creating greater interest in the event amongst the general viewing public.Additionally, the players will have the opportunity to work on self-promotion, if they so choose, including nailing down sponsorship deals.It is very likely, even encouraged by Harrah’s, that amateur players who make the final table will seek the coaching services of poker pros.
Each player will receive 9th place money in July so that they do not have to wait four months to receive any sort of winnings.The remainder of the prize pool will be distributed as the order of finish is determined.This remainder will also be put in an interest bearing account, with the interest being put back into the prize pool.
All nine players will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two for their returns to Las Vegas.If, for whatever reason, a player is unable to make it to the final table in November, his or her chips will simply be blinded off.