WSOP drops $50K H.O.R.S.E. event, adds new mixed-game tournament

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

LAS VEGAS -- The World Series of Poker plans to change the format of one of its most prestigious tournaments next year to make it easier for television viewers to follow.

Series officials said Thursday that the $50,000 mixed-game H.O.R.S.E. tournament will be replaced by an event rotating eight games before culminating with no-limit Texas Hold 'em at the final table.

The move comes after cable network ESPN chose not to broadcast last year's H.O.R.S.E. tournament, where David Bach of Athens, Ga., won the title and $1.28 million.

The tournament, dubbed the "Player's Championship," is the first open event of the series, which starts May 28 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Its games will include limit Texas Hold 'em, Omaha high-low split, seven-card razz, seven-card stud, seven-card stud high-low, no-limit Texas Hold 'em, pot-limit Omaha and deuce-to-seven triple-draw lowball.

The variations are rotated to test all-around poker skills and pit high-stakes players against each other at games used in Sin City's most exclusive cash games. At the same time, they're far tougher for spectators to follow compared with Texas Hold 'em, with more cards to keep up with and more circumstances to consider.

The expensive buy-in and varied games help ensure only the best professionals -- or courageous amateurs with deep pockets -- will enter. That could lead to a stacked final table squaring off in poker's most popular variation, making its finale more compelling for spectators.

The series will hold 57 events this year, including a $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. championship and a $25,000 no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament with six players at each table.

The $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event -- poker's richest tournament -- will begin July 5, series officials said. The final table will be chosen by July 18 and will be played beginning Nov. 6 to accommodate television coverage.

Poker player Joe Cada of Shelby Township, Mich., beat 6,493 opponents for $8.55 million and the main event title last month, becoming its youngest champion ever at age 21.