2016 WSOP – The WSOP Seniors Event is not a case of Old Timers Day | poker news
Dan Heimiller won the biggest WSOP senior event in history in 2014, the second of three straight years that the field has eclipsed 4,000 players.
Sports and competitions with the suffix ‘seniors’ are often judged to be inferior and, with rare exceptions, the level of play shown is usually far less impressive.
The Seniors’ No-Limit Hold’em Championship at the World Series of Poker is in many ways a notable exception to this rule. Not only is it playing the same game, but the over-50s have to battle their way through some of the biggest fields of the summer – and the kind of big prizes that come with them at the end.
In its 15 years of existence at the WSOP, this tournament has steadily grown into one of the most unlikely highlights of the summer, drawing one of the largest crowds and awarding one of the biggest prizes of any bracelet event on the schedule.
There are numerous theories as to why the roster has grown by at least 300 players for eight straight years (and has remained steady at over 4,000 players per year for the past three years).
“I think it was the oldest form of social media – word of mouth,” said Ty Stewart, executive director of the WSOP. “The people that came out had a blast and saw that there was some very significant prize money up for grabs. They just decided they were going to make it their main event.”
Senior events have been supported since the early 1990’s, with tournaments primarily taking place in California and Nevada, but the WSOP’s senior event began in 2001 with 340 registered players. Great credit for the growth of this type of event in its early days went to “Oklahoma” Johnny Hale, who helped organize it and remains a huge supporter of the current event to this day, at the age of 89.
Like all no-limit hold’em tournaments at the WSOP, the Seniors event attracts a wide range of players with equally varied levels of talent. At certain points in its history, there was definitely a feeling that this tournament was a bit of a softball for the established pros who have waded into this field, but if Dennis Phillips’ experience is any indication, the senior event is no cakewalk.
“In fact, the quality of the game has improved dramatically in the last four or five years,” Phillips said. “The old mindset that everyone has with the older players and how they are going to play is going away. Now you’re at a table of 10 people, you’re going to have at least four or five of them at that table, maybe playing more aggressively; They will play more like a normal tournament.”
Phillips should know the rigors of the field as well as anyone in the poker world. After rising to prominence in the poker world with his third-place finish in the 2008 WSOP Main Event, Phillips made two final table appearances in the seniors event; He finished second in 2012 and fifth in 2015.
It is probably no coincidence that the level of play has increased as the size of the playing field has increased.
“Every year there’s a new generation of people turning 50,” Phillips said. “The people who were in their early 40s when this senior escalation started are striking out now. Yes, there are many good players there who have been playing for a number of years. You get a lot of crossover now. A lot of the people that play in this thing play a lot of other WSOP events.”
Just because the field is harder to crack doesn’t mean this tournament has lost any of its charm. Unlike many other no-limit hold’em events, the Seniors event allows most players to remember that they are playing a game – and enjoy it as such.
“They’re having fun. They’re talking to each other,” Stewart said. “They’re respectful. I’m not judging younger players, but it seems the way it should be.”
“I get to sit down there with people I can relate to,” Phillips said. “I can kick out songs and old TV shows and the Cardinals lineup 40 years ago and people know what the hell I’m talking about. This is not possible in other tournaments. There is an interesting relationship. It’s a generation of people there who grew up with the same things.”
It seems a bit anachronistic to refer to the ‘senior event’, but at the WSOP there is always an eye towards the future and towards evolution.
The field will continue to change as the new classes of 50-year-olds continue to break the eligibility age limit, and the way Stewart sees it can only be good for the long-term health of the event.
“I think the fields are going to get even bigger,” Stewart said. “Of course that [younger] Generation had a much higher proportion of the population playing than in previous decades. We might see some more hoodies and headphones though – old habits are hard to break.”
The expansion ideas of the WSOP have also manifested themselves in the short term. The 2015 WSOP schedule included a Super Seniors event (for players 65 and over) for the first time, and while it didn’t quite reach 4,000 players, it wasn’t entirely disappointing either; Around 1,533 players of retirement age competed for the inaugural title.
He’s still a few years away from taking part in this event, which will be back in 2016 and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future, but Phillips is so entertaining at these events that his older compatriots can’t wait to witness him.
It’s that same sense of camaraderie that helped build senior events in the first place.
“I’ll tell you that probably 20 people have asked me when I’m going to start playing with the Super Seniors because they’re already there,” Phillips said. “It’s like, ‘Come on, when are you coming here? We are waiting for you.’ I’ll finally be the young savage.”
This week’s results
It’s been quite a week for Jason Mercier, winning a bracelet and finishing second in another event. Mercier doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down anytime soon, either, with a third run underway.
Event 8: $1,500 HORSE
Winner:Ian Johns ($212,604; second bracelet)
Event 10: $1,500 Six-handed No Limit Hold’em
Winner: Mike Cordell ($346,088; first bracelet)
Event 11: $10,000 Dealers Choice Championship
Winner: Jean Gaspard ($306,621; first bracelet)
Event 11: $1,000 Top Up Turbo No Limit Hold’em
Winner: Kyle Julius ($142,972; first bracelet)
Event 12: $565 Pot Limit Omaha
Winner: Ryan Laplante ($190,328; first bracelet)
Event 13: $1,500 Razz
Winner: Rep Porter ($142,624; third bracelet)
Event 14: $1,500 Millionaire Maker No Limit Hold’em
Winner: Jason DeWitt ($1,065,403; second bracelet)
Remarks: There were 5,479 unique entries at this event. … First place and second place (Garrett Greer) earned over $1 million. … Third place went to Lisa Meredith, a kindergarten teacher from Vancouver, WA, who was competing in her first WSOP event … The average age of the contestants was 39.01, with the oldest contestant being 92-year-old Norman Spivock of California.
Event 15: $1,500 eight-game mix
Winner: Paul Volpe ($149,943; second bracelet)
Event 16: $10,000 2-7 No Limit Draw Lowball Championship
Winner: Jason Mercier ($273,335; fourth bracelet)
Event 17: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em
Winner: Chase Bianchi ($316,920; first bracelet)
Event 18: $3,000 HORSE
Winner: Marco Johnson ($259,730; second bracelet)
Event 19: $1,000 Pot Limit Omaha
Winner: Sam Soverel ($185,317; first bracelet)
Event 20: $10,000 Razz Championship
Winner: Ray Dehkharghani ($273,338; first bracelet)
Event 21: $3,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold’em
Winner: ($531,577; first bracelet)
Event 22: $1,500 Limit Hold’em
Winner: ($188,815; first bracelet)
Full schedule for the WSOP 2016
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