Since 2008, the World Series of Poker has been running their Main Event under the November Nine format, where the final nine players meet in November to decide the tournament results. Of course, since the first portion of the WSOP Main Event ends in July, this creates a four-month gap before the final table is decided.
It wasn’t always this way though since the WSOP used to run the Main Event and final table within the same two weeks. However, the change was made in 2008 to create more buildup for the tournament, and help ESPN earn higher TV ratings. But after four years with this experiment, WSOP officials are starting to wonder if the November Nine format is turning people off of the Main Event.
Seth Palansky, who is the WSOP Communications Director, spoke about this subject by telling reporters, “We’re committed to it but I think what we learned over the summer with the live and taped programming is that we’re going to have to revisit the concept after this November. If you’re doing something live do you really need to delay it four months and try to build this anticipation to get people to watch? It doesn’t quite work.”
The 2011 WSOP Main Event final table will meet this Sunday to determine who wins the $8.7 million top prize. So far, no drop-off is expected in the ESPN ratings since enthusiasm is high for the final segment of the tournament, but if the WSOP notices any drop at all, they could be going back to the regular format.
That said, most poker fans would probably welcome the change because that way, they wouldn’t have to wait four months just to see the tournament play out. But we’ll have to wait and see what the WSOP and ESPN end up determining in the end.