WSOP: Main Event or H.O.R.S.E.?

With the 2006 World Series of Poker well underway, something I’ve been pondering since it was announced. For the first time this year, the Series includes a $50,000 buy-in HORSE tournament. Assuming it becomes a permanent feature, does it have the potential to become the measure of the world champion?

On the one hand, it requires some level of skill in five different games so it may be a better measure than a single-game tourney like the main event. But it’s also five times the buy-in and AFAIK there’s no satellite system in place for it so it’s not going to be open to the same number of players as the main event is. And of course the main event has three decades of history and precedent behind it.

What say you?

Please, no spoilers for any WSOP event. ESPN starts coverage next Tuesday.

As you probably know, the HORSE final table has been completed. I won’t spoil the results, but I can safely say that if you are at all familiar with poker, you will recognize many, many of the faces at the final table. I predict this will not be true with the main event final table.

Not knowing anything about the HORSE event in general, I assume the first four are Hold 'em, Omaha, Razz and Stud, but I can’t figure out what the E stands for… I don’t particularly want to look it up because I’m afraid that while looking for it, I may see the results, and what fun would that be?

To address the OP, I think the big buy-in plus lack of satellites is a good thing. I’d much rather watch a table with people like Ivey, Hellmuth, Harrington, etc, than a table of people I don’t really know.

From wikipedia:

H.O.R.S.E is a form of poker commonly played at the high stakes tables of casinos. It consists of rounds of play alternating between hold 'em (H), Omaha eight or better (O), razz ®, seven card stud (S) and seven card stud eight or better (E).

The E stands for seven card stud Eight or better (best five card low hand with no card higher than 8 wins half the pot).

Thanks. I figure I’ll stay unspoiled for about ten days or until the next Cardplayer magazine comes out.

“World Champion” is a nonsense media friendly term, because while a bad player isn’t going to win the WSOP main event, the odds that the actual best player in the world is going to (if he even bothers to participate) are miniscule.

But for what it’s worth, I would give more respect to someone who won a HORSE even event if the buy-ins were the same.

Well sure, but players themselves seem to respect the title, or at least they did until Robert Varkonyi…

Interesting. Why does the buy-in affect your opinion? Is it because of the big difference between the buy-ins in this particular event, the inevitable narrowing of the field caused by the higher buy-in? For tournies of the same event do you value a win in one buy-in over another (e.g. $1000 buy-in more/less an achievement than $5,000)?

The title was respected until Varkonyi because the field used to have fewer amateurs and lesser pros. With the explosion in field size, it has become less and less likely pros will be able to make the final table simply from the luck involved. Not that I think they should be complaining; the explosion in field has added a lot of dead money and you can make more now finishing in a much lower position than you could make winning the tournament just ten years ago. But it does mean the notion that the winner of the tournament is the “world champion” of poker pretty meaningless.

So, mostly I think it’s the increased buy-in that makes the event that much more prestigious; a 50K NLHE event would be a worthy addition, too, I think. For the HORSE aspect, I think it also helps in that a poker champion is expected to play a variety of games instead of just the Holdem game that it seems everyone knows how to play now.

I’m not sure that’s true. It might be. A lot of professional poker players I’ve known look at tournaments as a novelty, a joke.

I hadn’t really thought that through, which is why I said “even if…” - what I should’ve said was "all things being equal, to make that more clear.

I’m not really sure, never thought about it. The average skill level per player is probably higher in a higher buy-in event, because there would be less people with moderate to weak skills willing to give it a shot.

It depends on how you view a bigger tournament in regards to how it affects the skill to win it. Is it more of an accomplishment to win a 5000 player tournament than a 500 player one? Sure… but how exactly does that affect how skilled the winner would be?

While I think the HORSE champion will get a loto of respect. I think the most respect would go to a player who gets bracelets in multiple single game tournaments. I might think that if you win at HORSE it shows that you have versatility, but you may be very very good, but not great in any one game (although you are probably are).

I didn’t mean to sound snobbish in my last post, if I did.

The best indicator overall might be the player of the year type rankings, but those also depend on how many tournaments people buy in to. People with lots of money that play the whole series, of course, get a big advantage over people that play one or a few events.

I wonder if anyone has a rating system that takes into account the number of buy ins vs finishes, with a certain minimum number.