The 34th WSOP in Las Vegas – Just a thing of the past?

Reinhold Schmitt
ISA-GUIDE Chefredakteur (V.i.S.d.P.)

The 34th WSOP (World Series of Poker) at the Binion’s Horseshoe will be held from April 15th to May 23rd in Las Vegas. New introductions include the „second chance tournaments“, starting each day at 11:00 PM. Every player sets 200 USD and a fee of 25 USD, giving him 1000 points. The game is played according to the freeze out system. This new game was received with great honor and respect by the public, and a lot of people joined in to still receive a seat in the main 10,000 USD tournament, from May 19th – May 23rd. Other new tournaments have been introduced as well. Whether the public will see these as positive additions remains to be seen.

Fact is, a lot fewer participants joined in at the start of the tournament. In the past, some few hundred people from all over the world showed up at the early stages of the tournament. Maybe it’s because the „Bellagio’s Five-Star World Poker Classic 2003“ took place from April 2nd – April 18th this year as well.

At the tournament of the „employees“ only 208 participants joined in, versus 272 last year. The other games did not better: „Limit Hold’em“ now 422 players vs. 610 in the year before, „Seven Card Stud“ now 177 players vs. 253 last year, „Omaha High Low Split“ now only 175 vs. 339 last year, „No Limit Hold’em“ this year only 407 42 down from last year’s 449.

The 4th place at the „Omaha High Low Split“ was won by Mr Hans Pfisterer from Switserland, winning 28,680 USD. Chris Bichler reached a 13th raking during 5th Event of the „Seven Card Stud“ tournament at April 23rd. He won 3,650 USD with his ranking. All 253 players bought in for 1,500 USD to join the tournament. Andreas Krause reached rank 23 earning 2,040 USD at the „Seven Card Stud Split High Low“ tournament, where buy ins were available for 1,500 USD also.

With the drop in numbers of players this year, the organisation had to reduce pot money as well. This was the biggest magnet to the WSOP up until now.

Some of the players spoke out for all of them. Andreas Krause told ISA-CASINOS: „It wasn’t really worth it playing this year because of the drop in pot money. I’ll probably a couple of small tournaments, but I’ll let the big event pass by.“ Chris Bichler: „The WSOP at Binion’s has lost its momentum from the past. If you only look at the organisation and game plan, this tournament cannot compete against Bellagio’s. The service at Binion’s, offered to the players, has worsened over the years. Not even a normal buffet is offered anymore.“ T.J. Cloutier said: „I didn’t play a single tournament yet and I’m not sure whether I’ll join the big event or not.“

Quite harsh were the remarks of Horst Koch: „The WSOP isn’t that what it used to be. The big price of a million dollars can be won in other casinos in the US and even in Europe these days. This trend will continue, more casinos offering bigger and bigger events with a way better service standards compared to Binion’s. I believe they will not have 500 players for the big event this year. And that would be a disaster for a tournament like this. They way and level of poker at this tournament is unacceptable for me, to say the least.“

Marcel Luske, one of the best-known and famous poker players from Europe and „Poker Award 2001“ winner from Helsinki, flew back to Amsterdam April 22nd. Just before take off, we got hold of him, and had a small interview.
„I played 3 weeks at Bellagio’s and took a couple of successful games. I’ll return to Las Vegas for the big event, but for the other little tournament, well, I lost my appetite for those.“

Salehm Avher Levyn from Israel – also known as „Sendit de Papa“ – a well-known tennis player before the terms of Boris Becker and Steffi Graf, working as a tennis coach these days, told ISA-CASINOS reporter in an interview: „I think most of the players will only come to Las Vegas to join the big event. It is a must for the world’s best players to be there, quite like the grand slam tournaments in tennis: If you’re top, you have to be there. A lot of reasons exist to skip the smaller tournaments. One of them being the tournament at Bellagio’s, that just ended before the WSOP. Poker players have to be economic about their prices and income. And in terms of service, Bellagio is just better than Binion’s. Nonetheless, I think, the big event will be another success story. Personally, I’ll only play it, if I win one of the satellite tournaments.“

The average attitude towards this year’s WSOP is very cold. A lot of people are disappointed about the organisation and the services. Sure to be the biggest reasons for the smaller number of participants. The future will tell us, how many people will join in for the tournament from May 19th – May 23rd 2003 in Las Vegas.

ISA-CASINOS will keep you up to date, and also post the complete interview with Mr Levyn in one of the next newsletters.