The Main Event is underway here in Vegas. I start tomorrow (Sunday), taking my 30,000 chip starting stack against a whole mess of opponents all hoping for their chance at ESPN glory.
The Rio announced a couple of surprise changes on Day 1a (which is partially why I don’t like to play on Day 1a–let someone else be the guinea pigs). First, they’re only playing four levels on Day One, which is one fewer level than we played last year on day one, and two fewer levels than we played two years ago. The structure two years ago was completely ludicrous, as we played a monstrously long Day One, and then they ended up with super short days towards the end of the event. Last year they mostly got it right, with a five-level Day One setting up the pacing well for the rest of the tournament (although they still went too long on one of the other days, and still ended up with too much time on their hands towards the end). This four-level Day One that has been announced for 2009 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense from the players’ perspective. Day One can and should be the longest day for the players, as they’re all guaranteed at least one day off afterwards. Additionally, many people have lives to return to, and wouldn’t mind playing a fifth level on Day One rather than waiting around a few extra days to do it.
But I can see why they might have changed the structure at the last minute, as it does have potential benefit to the Rio and to the Vegas economy. Fewer levels means fewer bustouts, which in turn means more people sticking around town and spending money at the Rio and elsewhere. The other change that goes hand-in-hand is that the dinner break is happening after Level Two–at 4:30 in the afternoon. This means more people will be around to eat dinner, and many will likely still be interested in eating again after Day One is over, since it ends at the reasonable hour of 10:30 p.m. instead of the less reasonable (for food purposes) 12:50 a.m.
Finally, there is no day off after the Day Ones this year, which means the dealers are essentially going to work six long days in a row. It might help their stamina a bit if the Day Ones each take two hours and twenty minutes less than they did last year. (I doubt the dealers were a factor in the Rio’s decision, but it’s nice that their work week will be a little easier as a result.)
With the new Day One structure in place, about two-thirds of the field survived Day 1a–far more than you’d want for a five or six day tournament, but completely fine when you’re already planning on taking eight days to get down to a final table anyway. They got 1,116 players on 1a, but the later Day Ones traditionally get bigger fields. I’m setting the O/U for the tournament at 5,500. I honestly don’t know if I’m rooting for Over or Under. Obviously more money for everyone if it goes over, but a better chance of winning a huge prize and earning TV bonuses if it goes under. Not that it matters what I root for, it’s just sort of interesting (to me, at least) from a theoretical standpoint.
Anyway, all of this is just idle curiosity while I’m waiting for my tournament to start. I’m ready to play, I’ve been gearing up since Monday! Good luck to everyone in the event, unless you’re at my table. Tomorrow, I’ll be trying my best to start a good run.