Last year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) set all-time highs for attendance and prize money awarded, but poker’s premier festival is going all in this summer to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The full 2019 WSOP schedule has been released, with 80 gold bracelet events spread over six weeks between May 28 and July 16.
And fittingly, the 50th edition of poker’s most prestigious tournament series kicks off in style with the “Big 50.” Priced at an affordable $500 buy-in level, the Big 50 is a No Limit Texas Hold’em (NLHE) tournament featuring four starting flights from May 30 through June 2.
Every player’s initial entry sends the entire $500 into the prize pool – subsequent reentries are subject to the operator’s “rake” as per usual – and that prize pool comes with a $5 million guarantee. Players begin with 50,000 in chips, blind levels last 50 minutes, and the eventual champion is guaranteed at least $1 million in winnings.
In a press release, WSOP vice president Jack Effel said the Big 50 was a perfect way to welcome players to a milestone event in series history:
“We hope everyone who loves the game of poker comes out to experience our big 50th.
Being this is our 50th running, we are doing everything we can to make this year’s iteration bigger, better and more valuable for players.
We are confident you will find an event or two to your liking, and hopefully one that allows you to raise the gold bracelet over your head at the end of it.”
Along with the Big 50 festivities, the 2019 WSOP schedule offers players 79 other opportunities to earn a gold bracelet and bricks of cash across a jam-packed slate.
While pros and superstars battle it out in 20 tournaments priced at $10,000 or higher on the 2019 WSOP schedule – including the WSOP Main Event running from July 3-16 – rank and file members of the poker community have 46 affordable options in the $400 through $1,500 buy-in range.
The cheapest way to bag a bracelet is the $400 “Colossus” (NLHE), which set an all-time tournament attendance mark at 22,374 entries when it debuted in 2015.
In a new addition to the schedule, five “Deepstack” events priced at $600 or $800 provide larger starting stacks and extended blind levels.
Players who can’t afford to scratch the Main Event off their bucket list just yet now have a $1,000 “Mini Main Event” that mimics the original’s structure.
Fans of non-NLHE variants will find 33 events spanning the buy-in spectrum from $600 to $10,000, featuring games like Pot Limit Omaha, Seven Card Stud, Razz, and H.O.R.S.E.
And due to uncertainty over the recent Department of Justice (DOJ) decision to reinstate a federal ban of online gambling, WSOP.com is not currently slated to host online bracelet events.
For the first time ever, WSOP events will incorporate the innovative “big blind ante” format. In a statement announcing the move, WSOP.com editor-in-chief Seth Palansky outlined how big blind ante tournaments work:
“The BB-ante is a fundamental rethinking of what the ante is.
The ante in this format is no longer a specified amount that each player pays each hand. It’s now a specified amount that each player pays each round.
If a player in the tournament does not have the required amount for both the Big Blind and the Ante, the Big Blind will be paid first, followed by the ante.”
Pioneered by tournament directors Paul Campbell and Matt Savage over the last few years, the big blind ante speeds up tournament gameplay by consolidating each player’s ante bet into a single wager.
Another significant shift concerns the size of starting chip stacks, which will be dramatically increased at every buy-in level (as seen in the table below):
|Buy-In||2018 Stack||2019 Stack|