The Big Issue: Does the $565 Colossus devalue the WSOP?

Daniel Negreanu’s not a fan, but what do we make of the new $565 WSOP Colossus buy-in event?

They say poker’s the game where anyone can play anyone. Young, old, man or woman, you can sit down at the table and potentially end up on TV playing the world champion. If you can afford the entry fee.

And there’s the rub. We’re pretty sure that every poker player in the world – apart from maybe Doyle Brunson – would love to sit down at the 2015 WSOP Main Event and play for the ultimate prize in poker. How many can afford the $10k buy-in though? Since Black Friday, the chances of winning your seat in an online satellite have shrivelled up too.

But it’s not all about the Main Event. Last year the WSOP offered you 65 chances to win a bracelet in Las Vegas, with the lowest buy-in priced at a very reasonable $1,000. This year they’ve gone even further, announcing the Colossus, a two-day event with $5m guaranteed and the smallest buy-in ever for a WSOP event – $565. Awesome news, right?

Party pooper

Not everyone thinks so. Daniel Negreanu knows it’s what the masses want, but thinks a line has been crossed. In a recent blog post he pointed to his first WSOP in 1996 when the lowest buy-in was $2k and players with limited bankrolls had to grind their way in via satellites.

‘Now we are going one step further,’ he says. ‘Where does the line stop exactly? If there was a $100 tournament at the WSOP, it would certainly draw huge numbers and we would celebrate it as a success, but is it in the best interest of the brand?’

He goes on to ask what the line should be. ‘I imagine we would all agree that a $1 WSOP event would be too far? Most think $500 is a good idea, but what about $20? Or even $100? I don’t know what the right line is, but for me personally that line hasn’t really changed much since my early days of grinding.’

Poker for the people

Normally we’re right down with Negreanu’s views. But not this one. The World Series is an incredible spectacle. The Amazon Room at the Rio is one of the poker wonders of the world, with thousands of poker players simultaneously riffling and dreaming of glory. The more people that get to sample this, the better.

Negreanu thinks that $1k is too little to put up to play for a bracelet. But, for a lot of people $1k is out of their poker comfort zone or budget. The low buy-in events have huge fields and most people know they haven’t got a chance of winning it, let alone cashing. They are happy to pay for the experience though. And that could inspire them to play more and possibly one day return for a shot at the big one.

A $565 buy-in is much more affordable for the recreational poker player. We’ve no doubt the Colossus will be the largest live poker event ever held and that’s a good thing too. Headlines will be made and the game will pick up more mainstream coverage. So what if one of those recreational players wins a bracelet to boast about to his grandchildren?

The $1k buy-ins don’t take away from the prestige of the $10k Main Event and the Colossus won’t turn the WSOP bracelet into something you can find in a cracker. We’re 100% behind it and if you’re in Vegas over the summer you’ll find us at one of the thousands of tables dreaming of the win.

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