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Poker News | World Series of Poker | WSOP2009

Expect Rule and Structure Changes at 2009 WSOP

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With the 2009 World Series of Poker only months away and pre-registration already in progress, it is a good time to take a look at some of the major changes regarding rules and tournament structures that will be in place for the series of events. As Las Vegas starts warming, the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino starts preparing, and players start planning, the WSOP rules are ready for examination.

First, the lineup itself has changed with the addition of some interesting events. The first major tournament will be a $40,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event, a one-time tournament to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the WSOP. There is also a “stimulus special,” which is a $1,000 buy-in NLHE for the masses. Typically, the lowest buy-in open tournament at the WSOP requires $1,500, but in order to cater to those who are likely feeling the burden of the economic recession and global financial crisis, the lower buy-in event is new to the schedule.

Rebuy events have been removed from the WSOP in 2009. In place of them, in certain events like the pot-limit Omaha, deuce-to-seven no-limit, and triple chance, players will receive only a portion of their chips at the beginning of the event, and at any point during the first few levels, players can request more of their original stacks. Even players who do not request the rest of their chips will receive them when the add-on period is over, ultimately putting all of the chips back into play.

All of the tournaments will be held in the convention center area of the Rio, to which players have become accustomed, and three rooms will be utilized again. In addition to the massive Amazon Room that contains the majority of the tournament tables, as well as the ESPN stage and cash game area, the Brasilia Room will again be used for tournaments, like the lower buy-in events, to accommodate the overflow. In addition, the Tropical Room will again be used for satellites, daily and nightly side tournaments, and even more overflow space if needed. In total, there will be about 300 tournament tables available. There will also be the Miranda Room available for overflow as necessary. Overall, there will be 20 to 25 more tables than in 2008.

As far as the tournament structures are concerned, players were pleased with the double starting chips last year, but the 2009 tournaments will begin with triple starting chips. In addition, none of the levels will be removed from the no-limit events. The double stacks in 2008 were countered by the skipping of some levels to speed play, but that will not happen this year. The higher buy-in and limit events will see more levels as well. As for the special events, like the $1,000 buy-in special event, the structure is said to be better in the beginning of the tournament with the addition of the 25/25 and 75/150 levels.

Every year, WSOP officials have multiple meetings with the Players’ Advisory Committee to discuss improvements that could be made to the schedule from the prior years. In this case, the aforementioned changes were developed from those discussions, and WSOP tournament director Jack Effel seems excited to implement those changes.

As for the rules that are new for the 2009 World Series of Poker, the latest version was recently released on the official WSOP website. The most obvious addition to that set of standards was the Code of Player Conduct, which was labeled as Rule 30. The first section notes that the “competitive integrity of all tournament play” is paramount, and the details followed. Cheating, such as collusion, chip stealing, transferring tournament chips from one event to another, card marking or substitution, or using any type of cheating device is prohibited. Other sections of the rule address “civility and courtesy” between players and gives Harrah’s the duty to penalize anything that violates those rules. In fact, “Harrah’s will penalize any act…inconsistent with the official rules or bests interests of the tournament.” Those in violation of the rules can include the forfeiture of chips or prize money, ejection from the tournament, loss of rights to play future WSOP events, and exclusion from all Harrah’s properties.

A rule that was amended from the previous year was Rule 36 pertaining to profane language. Instead of simply restricting offensive language that is directed at another player or tournament staff member, the new rule states that “Harrah’s prohibits the use of obscene or foul language in any public area of the casino at any time.” While the next sentence references penalties that can be imposed due to directing such profanity at other players, the first statement is quite broad and can be interpreted to include members of the media and tournament staff speaking to each other. It will be interesting to see how this rule is enforced.

An addition to the rules for 2009 includes one for sponsor logos. Perhaps in response to the 2008 November Nine final table, at which the majority of the players wore PokerStars logos, the new rule states that any ESPN-taped final table or feature table can have no more than three of the same logo. That means that sites like PokerStars, should they find more than three players representing their site at the same table, will have to choose which three will wear the logo. If no choice can be made, tournament officials will dictate with the draw of a high-card. Online poker sites will certainly have to adjust their policies and consider all options when several of their players make the same televised table.

Other than the specified rule changes that could have a significant impact on the WSOP, most rules are quite similar to the previous year and not many of them would shock players who will participate in the 2009 events. Nevertheless, it is important that everyone is aware of the rules in order to have a hassle-free experience.

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