Has the World Series of Poker priced itself too highly for amateur poker players? We asked the expert opinion of Praz Bansi and Paul Jackson

With higher buy-ins each year alienating the average player has the WSOP gone too far?

YES says Paul Jackson

Veteran UK player

I definitely think the World Series is getting too big for its own good, with events like the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. and the newly introduced $40,000 Hold’em anniversary tournament. In my opinion there’s a huge danger of it becoming a jolly club for the sponsored players and that’s really not what the WSOP is meant to be about.

Whichever sponsored pro wins these events (who else other than a branded player can afford to put up $40,000?) will proclaim himself the best player in the world and that’s only going to devalue the Main Event. A lot of the American players believe the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. should be the real world championship but I would question their reasons for saying that. Rather than it being because they believe a multi-game format is a better test of skill, I can’t help but feel they are influenced by the fact that only 150 players enter the tournament, of which the vast majority are the established players, as opposed to the 7,000 that play in the Main Event.

It just doesn’t seem fair that a lot of good players wouldn’t have a crack at being the ‘world champion’ simply because of the buy-in. There are thousands of great players out there and the difference between the so-called top pros and a lot of online players is so small these days that making the buy-in huge gives the old school that much more of an advantage.

NO says Praz Bansi

Blue Square Poker sponsored pro

The World Series is still the biggest poker event of the year by far and everyone is still really hyped about it. I just don’t think that changing the number or cost of events is devaluing WSOP bracelets or turning people off the festival.

When you go really deep in an event you realise what it’s all about [Bansi took down one of the $1k Hold’em events in 2006]. There are only a few tables left and every time someone goes out you’re making serious money. You can just taste winning the event and you get a real buzz thinking you might bag a bracelet. On top of that there’s ridiculous value at the WSOP as the strength of the field is lower than at the WPT where it seems that everyone knows what they’re doing. Poker’s getting tougher but when you get to the Rio and you’re sat at the table with people who are playing really badly it gives everyone a chance, which is what the World Series should be about.

The WSOP provides everyone with a dream of winning a bracelet, even for the ones that don’t admit it. I’m trying to learn Omaha, and even though Karl Mahrenholz says I’m the worst player he’s seen, I might play some events at the World Series this year. And that’s why the WSOP is still good value, because it’s a platform for players like me to enter tournaments in which they have no idea what they’re doing. It’s my turn to be the dead money!

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