Colossal displeasure with Colossus payout structure at WSOP

1 June 2015

LAS VEGAS — The money bubble burst at the World Series of Poker's Colossus event after just two levels of play on Sunday night at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, but the bulk of the buzz in the Pavilion was a payout structure that will see first place earn $638,880, or just 5.7 percent of the prize pool — well below the typical winner's share for a poker tournament.

When WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel announced the first-place prize, there was an audible gasp in the room, as all the players in the room seemed surprised by the amount. Many assumed that with 22,374 entries and a prize pool of nearly $11.2 million, first place would pay at least $1 million.

Two self-described "angry New Yorkers" clearly didn't think much of the structure.

"Part of the allure of getting people and coming down here was you thought for $565 you could win $2-3 million," said Harry Frankel, who played in the event but did not finish in the money. "This first prize, it's the same first prize as almost any other poker tournament, and you have to get through 22,000 people."

Frankel and Toby Kasser came with a group of about a dozen players who play together at a local club, and both said they have played at the WSOP for several years. Several of the players they came with made the money, and they were sticking around to watch the action.

"They brutalized the pay structure," said Kasser. "It's anti-climactic to win a tournament like this, other than to say you passed through 22,000 players. Do you know how hard it is to beat 22,000 players? If I win, I've got to pay half to the government. I basically won ($315,000)."

Frankel and Kasser's sentiments were echoed by many professional poker players on Twitter.













The payout structure is clearly not ideal in the minds of hardened, experienced players. But those who haven't played as many casino tournaments didn't seem to be quite as outraged.

"It is a little disappointing. You'd think they'd at least pay $1 million," said David Thompson of Oklahoma City, who survived the money bubble to finish in the money. "But 600 grand for a $565 entry fee is pretty good, so I'm not too upset about it."

"It sounds odd because you'd think (first place) would be at least 10 percent, but I don't have a problem with it," said Jeff Gallimore of Peoria, Arizona. "I can't imagine it being run any better than it's been run. I get to say I played in the biggest live tournament of all time. Are you kidding?"

A min-cash in the Colossus was worth $1,096, or nearly double the tournament buy-in, which is slightly higher than the industry standard. Payout jumps occur every 100 players or so until the final 99 players are determined, at which point they occur every nine players. The player who finished 1,000th won $3,009, and 500th is worth $5,000. The top 99 players are guaranteed at least $9,307, while tenth place will earn $55,968.

The whole point of the Colossus was to bring new players to Las Vegas for the WSOP. There's no doubt that objective was achieved. If the recreational players who came to Las Vegas to play in this tournament don't mind seeing less money go to first to flatten the pay structure, maybe it's not so radical an idea after all.

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