Poker players were not impressed last year when the World Poker Tour (WPT) announced a new delayed final table format would begin to take effect during the tournament’s 17th season.
The WPT announced that all of the televised final tables would now be filmed at the state-of-the-art HyperX Esports Arena located at Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. These events would stop when there are six remaining players and will the final action will take place weeks later at the new Esports Arena and be filmed.
The move from the WPT was surprising given that the World Series of Poker (WSOP) decided to do away with delayed tables. The premier poker brand used to run its November Nine format which were the final 9 players who remained from its flagship Main Event. The delayed November Nine format ran from 2008 to 2016 and forced the nine surviving players to wait for over three months to battle it out for the honor of being crowned the WSOP Main Event champion.
In 2017, the WSOP decided to drop the delayed table format and go back to the traditional live coverage format. This meant the final nine players no longer had to wait in suspense as the eventual champion was determined within a three day period. Given that the WSOP dropped the delayed table format, it was surprising to see the WPT move towards delayed tables in 2019.
This week, the first three delayed final tables of the WPT are playing out from March 11 to 13, with a champion will be crowned each day.
Players Share Thoughts On Delayed Tables
A number of players expressed their dismay at the new delayed WPT format as soon as the new changes were announced last year. Among them was Darren Elias, who currently holds the record for most WPT titles.
The American poker pro said he was not pleased with the delayed final tables as he felt it was in the best interests of the player to finish the game with no delays imposed. Elias is among the finalists at the L.A. Poker Classic and will get to experience the new delayed format as he works on claiming his fifth WPT title.
Shannon Shorr, who made the final table of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship was also open to the fact that he did not like the idea of delayed tables. Shorr felt that this gave players additional time to rest up and study which was unfair.
Ian O’Hara will also have a first-hand experience of the new format after making the top six of the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open main event. O’Hara is looking to clinch his first WPT victory, and add to his $2 million in live tournament earnings. O’Hara took into consideration both sides of the coin when sharing his thoughts on the delayed table format. He concedes that the delay will allow family members to attend the event and provide support to the player which is a positive.
However, the main drawback is that players will need to make extra travel arrangements to get to a different venue, not to mention the long wait for the final action. The new format was also met with skepticism on social media, sparking a debate among fans and players. Shorr said most poker players share the same sentiment and oppose the idea.
WPT Addresses Concerns
WPT President and CEO Adam Pliska decided to address the concerns and feedback that the poker community had thrown up. Pliska has rolled out a number of changes and knows how the market can respond to new changes.
Sharing his thoughts on the new format, Pliska highlighted the pros, saying the new $25 million HyperX Esports Arena is the perfect venue for WPT’s prestigious final tables. He believes that it is right and fitting that the game is celebrated in a similar way as top-tier global sports. The new venue will also enable the company to put on an excellent TV production and showcase their sponsors, providing a unique live experience for everyone.
But the CEO did not overlook the other factors associated with the new changes, such as high transport costs, a decrease in the number of casinos that would take part in the televised final table, and additional expenses for players.
Pliska acknowledged the concerns of some poker players who said that the new format could discourage amateur players to take part in events with delayed final tables. He admitted there’s a risk, but emphasized that WPT has proven time and again that educated risk-taking is an important step towards innovation.