2019 WSOP Schedule


[SS] “It’s a great year for round numbers”, Stan the Stat teased.

[LL] “What do you mean?” Leroy the Lion played along.

[SS] “Well, it’s the 50th World Series of Poker1 with 89 bracelet events,2 including two new tournaments with a $400 buyin, five at $500,3 six at $600, and three at $800. Most of those are online events as nine of those were added after the initial schedule was released.”

[LL] “Is that the most low-buyin events ever?”

[SS] “Indeed. Obliterated last year’s record of eight sub-$1,000 events by nine.”

[LL] “Did any events get removed?”

[SS] “Just the Big One for One Drop, which is held every even year.

And the waste of time it took for everyone to ante, at least in Texas Hold ‘Em events, where big blind antes are now standard.”4

[LL] “What else is new?”

[SS] “More chips. The Main Event will start with 60,000 chips instead of 50,000. Almost all the other buyin-levels are also starting with more chips.5

There’s a new $10,000 short deck Hold ‘Em event (where flushes are worth more than full houses), a $50,000 NLHE High Roller for 50th ‘anniversary’, and a $500 Salute to Warriors tournament (where $40 from each entry goes to the USO and other veteran organizations), and a $1,500 Bracelet Winners Only No-Limit Hold ‘Em.

Here’s how the schedule compares to last year by game type, limit type, and buyin:

WSOP Event Comparison: 2018 vs. 2019

By Game Type:

Game Type 2018 2019 Change
Hold ‘Em 43 55 +12
Lowball 6 6 0
Omaha 14 13 -1
Stud 4 4 0
Mixed Games 11 11 0

By Limit Type:

Limit Type 2018 2019 Change
Limit 15 14 -1
Pot-Limit 14 13 -1
No-Limit 41 53 +12
Mixed-Limit 8 9 +1

By Buyin:

Buyin 2018 2019 Change
$365 3 0 -3
$400 0 2 +2
$500 0 5 +5
$565 4 0 -4
$600 0 6 +6
$800 0 3 +3
$888 1 1 0
$1,000 11 13 +2
$1,111 1 1 0
$1,500 24 24 0
$2,500 4 4 0
$2,620 1 1 0
$3,000 6 6 0
$3,200 1 1 0
$5,000 3 3 0
$10,000 15 16 +1
$25,000 1 1 0
$50,000 2 2 0
$100,000 1 1 0
$1,000,000 1 0 -1

This year’s WSOP kicks off with the $500 (down from $565) Casino Employees event on May 29 and ends with a $5,000 No-Limit Hold ‘Em tournament from July 15 to 16. The Main Event is expected to run from July 3 to 15.”

Footnotes:

  1. Coming soon: an incredible app celebrating 50 years of the World Series of Poker.
  2. An increase of 11 events from last year. It was a nice round 80 events until they added nine more online events. { Updated April 30, 2019 }
  3. One of the new $500 events is the celebratory $500 No-Limit Hold ‘Em “Big 50” with a $5 million guaranteed payout.
  4. As Stan the Stat predicted last year.
  5. The only exception is the $2,620 Marathon, which already had a generous 26,200 starting stack. CardPlayer listed all the starting chip changes.

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“Moneymaker” Review

[LL] “Of course, all of you know Chris Moneymaker’s story”, Leroy the Lion began. “Many players got into poker specifically because of his 2003 WSOP Main Event run.”

[RR] “Indeed, our home tournament started right after it was first aired on ESPN”, Roderick the Rock confirmed.

[LL] “It’s a story almost too good to be true, and it would make a decent movie. But for now, we’ll have to content ourselves with Daniel Paisner’s book, Moneymaker, which came out in 2005.

Moneymaker was a degenerate sports gambler who had amassed $50,000 in debt. He didn’t really have any disposable income. Although he played cards most of life and played some poker, he only learned Texas Hold ‘Em after he had started working full-time and gotten married after college. The guy who taught him, the friend of a cousin of a friend of his, regularly cleaned up at their poker games for a while, but Moneymaker wasn’t discouraged.

His family and friends all played a big part in his story, but Moneymaker made his mark at the card table (both virtual and real), where the most exciting parts take place. More details and some corrections1 have come out since the book, but the gist of the unlikely chain of events remains unchanged:

  • His PokerStars account was so low, he had dropped down to playing $0.25 cash games. When he started playing tournaments online, he could only afford $5 buyins.
  • The buyin for the first satellite cost most of his bankroll.2
  • He didn’t even realize it was a satellite or he wouldn’t have played it.3
  • When he won the first satellite, it only got him into a higher-entry satellite.4 The second satellite’s top three prizes were entries into the WSOP Main Event, but Moneymaker coveted the $8,000 fourth prize, which he needed to pay off at least some of his bills.
  • When he reached the final table with the chip lead, he was about to intentionally start lose chips to fall in fourth place when his friend Bruce Peery offered to buy 50% of his stake for $5,000 if he won the seat.
  • Peery then reneged on his offer, but Moneymaker was bailed out by his father Mike (20%), a friend named David Gamble5 (20%), and two other friends (5% between them).
  • On the other hand, Peery’s apology for failing to come up with the cash was a pair of Oakley Straight Jacket sunglasses that he recommended wearing to hide his telltale eyes. Peery also gave Moneymaker invaluable advice to stop looking away when bluffing.
  • Moneymaker had never played in a live tournament before he set foot in Las Vegas shortly before the Main Event.
  • Moneymaker might not have won the event if Sammy Farha had accepted his pre-heads-up bathroom break offer to split the prizes.6
  • Moneymaker got away with the “bluff of the century” against Farha. If Farha had correctly called, he would have had a commanding 7.4 million to 1 million chip lead.
  • And of course, along the way, Moneymaker had to survive numerous all-ins and get the right cards at the right time,7 such as the river Ace that knocked out the formidable Phil Ivey on the final table bubble.

Paisner has written fourteen New York Times best-sellers, so, while Moneymaker is not one of them, it is a well-written account of one of the most amazing chapters in poker history that led to a boom that saw the WSOP Main Event jump from 839 to 8,773 players in three years.

Title Moneymaker
Author Chris Moneymaker with Daniel Paisner
Year 2005
Skill Level any
Pros Very detailed first-person account of Chris Moneymaker’s run to the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event title, including his thoughts during numerous important hands.
Cons More than you ever wanted to know about his sports gambling losses.
Rating 3.0

Footnotes:

  1. For starters, the cover of the books says “How an amateur poker player turned $40 into $2.5 million at the World Series of Poker”. Even when the book was published, the correct buyin amount was thought to be $39. Moneymaker himself somehow misremembered though, and PokerStars later discovered and admitted that the buyin was actually $86 in 2014.
  2. Moneymaker shared this fact in When We Were Kings, posted by Grantland a decade later. Since he thought the buyin was $39, he claimed he had $60 in the account, but the basic idea still holds.
  3. Also from the Grantland article. Moneymaker claims that the PokerStars user interface wasn’t very clear about the fact.
  4. The book incorrectly gives the buyin of the second satellite as $600 instead of $650 ($615+$35).
  5. Key people in the story are named Moneymaker, Gamble, and Goldman (PokerStars marketing guy Dan Goldman). It would be corny if it were fiction.
  6. Also from the Grantland article. Farha countered that they should play winner-take-all, and no deal was struck.
  7. On page 154, Moneymaker admits that he got lucky but insists the way ESPN edited the footage made him look luckier than he was.
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“Total Poker” Review

[LL] “I would have expected a book called Total Poker to be longer than 255 pages”, Leroy the Lion complained. “But then Card Player published The Total Poker Manual, which was almost exactly the same length, two hundred and fifty-six pages.”

[RR] “Oh, I don’t know”, Roderick the Rock countered. “If you think about it the right way, poker is pretty simple. ‘Play tight. Be aggressive.'”

[LL] “Just like the ‘Total Diet’ book only needs to say, ‘Eat less. Exercise more.'”

[RR] “Totally right. If you expend more calories than you eat, you’ll lose weight.”

[LL] “And yet dieting and poker are both billion-dollar industries with hundreds of books and countless articles published every year. The Total Poker book actually came out in 1977 while The Total Poker Manual was nearly four decades later in 2016. Despite the similar names, they’re very different books. The latter is primarily a pithy strategy guide with some bigger picture advice,1 while the former tries to live up to its name by covering strategy, history, and even pop culture.

In 1973, David Spanier flew from England to Las Vegas to play and report on the World Series of Poker, years before his fellow journalists Al Alvarez and Anthony Holden did the same. Total Poker didn’t come out for four years, however. The preface partly explains the delay when he states, ‘one of the things I discovered in writing a book about poker is how deep a subject poker is: one can’t really ever get to the boundaries of it; like exploring space, there’s always farther to go.’2 The scope of the subject also created a book that bounces around diverse topics with little rhyme or reason: strategy sections abut history chapters abut pop culture musings. This review may also seem disorganized as a result.

The first chapter is on bluffing, because ‘bluff is the essence of poker.’3 ‘It is the game itself.’4 In this chapter and elsewhere, Spanier presents examples from his own play, usually in Five-Card Draw, Five-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud, and related low-only and hi-lo games. His strategy advice is generally sound if not very deep,5 but he tries to shore up the lack of rigor with various tables of odds from the different games.

Some chapters cover different eras in the history of poker, with topics including New Orleans, steamboats, early references in books, Wild Bill Hickok, and Poker Alice, a late 19th century, Wild West poker playing legend. U.S. Presidents who played poker get their own chapter, albeit with a long side track exploring John F. Kennedy’s poker-like dealings with Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As Spanier was in Vegas for the 1973 WSOP, the champion Puggy Pearson gets his own chapter, which includes some hand stories from the Main Event. This is the section with the most Texas Hold ‘Em, but a later chapter describes the game: ‘The key to tactics at hold ’em is to treat the first two cards like stud, but the flop like draw; at that stage you have a five-card hand to work with; strategically, play the game as a variation of seven card stud. A somewhat complicated admixture, but that’s the fascination of hold ’em.’6

One chapter discusses the best poker movies of all time, which, like the J.F.K. digression, features a movie with no poker, The Hustler. The actual poker movies he likes are The Cincinnati Kid (1965), A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966), The Sting (1973), and California Split (1974).

Overall Total Poker is a rare book from an earlier era that doesn’t live up to its grand title but still provides an interesting portal into a world where poker was very different than it is today.”

[RR] “‘Promises everything. Delivers some.'”

Title Total Poker
Author David Spanier
Year 1977
Skill Level any
Pros Lots of poker stories, including some hands from the 1973 WSOP Main Event. Some strategy and odds tables.
Cons Too much about Draw Poker, Five-Card Stud, and Spanier’s home games.
Rating 2.5

Footnotes:

  1. I may do a full review of The Total Poker Manual in the future, but the micro-review is ‘Decent breadth. No depth.’ It’s a colorful beginner’s guide with 266 very short sections ranging from a quarter of a page to two pages.
  2. Page 9.
  3. Page 13.
  4. Page 18.
  5. Although Spanier appears to be a competent home game player, his various trips to the World Series of Poker do not seem to have included any tournament cashes, and he does not have an entry in the Hendon Mob Database.
  6. Page 231.
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“Championship Table” Review

[LL] “Championship Table is a great companion book to All In“, Leroy the Lion claimed.

[RR] “How so?” Roderick the Rock encouraged.

[LL] “It complements the older book’s biggest weaknesses with excellent organization. Every World Series of Poker Main Event gets its own chapter with the same basic structure. The final players are listed in seat order, usually with their chip stacks at the start of the final table. A separate chart lists the order of finish with prize money. The final hand is described in text with the hole and board cards displayed graphically. Brief highlights of the entire WSOP are usually given.

While Championship Table doesn’t include nearly as many stories as All In, thirteen of its chapters include an interview or a conversation with the winner or the runner-up or, in one case, a Ladies World Champion.

These dialogues with Smith, even though they date from 1996 to 2001, are the best part of the book. The nine interviews are:

  • Thomas ‘Amarillo Slim’ Preston: ‘The Old Days at the World Series’
  • Walter Clyde ‘Puggy’ Pearson: ‘On the Road Again’
  • Doyle ‘Texas Dolly’ Brunson: ‘The Warrior Returns to the Arena’
  • Bobby Hoff: ‘A Sunny Day after a Long Night’
  • Byron ‘Cowboy’ Wolford: ‘Rodeoing ‘n Playing Poker’
  • T.J. Cloutier: ‘When T.J. Talks, They All Listen’
  • Russ Hamilton: ‘He’s Worth His Weight in Silver’
  • Barbara Enright:1 ‘The First Lady at the Last Table’
  • Noel Furlong: ‘The Champ Pays Tribute to a Pioneer’
  • Chris Ferguson: ‘A Champ Who Waltzes in Three Worlds’

while the four conversations are with Dewey Tomko, Erik Seidel, Hans ‘Tuna’ Lund, and John Strzemp. Features on two of the first champions to pass away, Johnny Moss and Stu Ungar, also appear.

The book presents numerous photos throughout, with at least one of every champion. Although these pictures are black and white, they include over a dozen excellent group shots dating back to 1974. The ‘Gallery of Champions’ with every Main Event winner in chronological order is the final page of the book, but a better, color version without text adorns the front cover.

Like All In, Championship Table could use a sequel or an update, as it only covers through 2008, but of the two, it’s the book you’ll turn to first if you want to look something up about the first three decades of the WSOP.”

Title Championship Table
Author Dana Smith,2 Tom McEvoy, & Ralph Wheeler
Year 2009
Skill Level any
Pros Organized presentation of the final players with starting chip stacks and results, the final hand, and a summary for every WSOP Main Event from 1970 to 2008. Excellent interviews.
Cons Some years are unnecessarily brief, spanning a mere two pages. Numerous final hand errors.3
Rating 3.5

Footnotes:

  1. Enright won the WSOP Ladies Championship in both 1986 and 1994.
  2. Dana Smith is one of the few female poker authors, but often hides that fact by publishing under the name Shane Smith.
  3. Over half (16 out of 30) of the final hands have at least one incorrect or missing card.
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