The Main Event Comes of Age, Revisited

During the 2015 WSOP Main Event, I wrote an article for PokerNews on the trend toward younger winners at the World Series of Poker Main Event over the past decade, and provided an interactive chart of everyone since 2005. That was before 72-year-old Pierre Neuville and 61-year-old Neil Blumenfield made the final table.

Over at the 2+2 Pokercast last week, the hosts attributed a quote to Dan Harrington from 2004, saying that nobody over 40 would ever again win the Main Event. Obviously, that didn’t happen last year, but with the chip leader this year being Cliff Josephy, who’s 51, the possibility exists for Harrington’s prediction to fall.

Josephy doesn’t have the kind of lead that Joe McKeehan had in 2015, and he’s the only player 40 or older as we go into the hiatus for the November Nine. Qui Nguyen, in second place in chips, is 39, however, so there’s a possibility he might turn 40 before the final table starts back up. Not sure whether that qualifies as “over 40” by Harrington’s standards.

If it does, then the prediction is already busted. Jerry Yang was 40 when he won the Main Event in 2007. And that year, by the time the table was down to three players, the title was going to someone 40 or older no matter what, because Yang’s opponents were Tuan Lam (41, in second place) and Raymond Rahme (62, in third). If Darvin Moon had beat Joe Cada in 2009, he would have been 45, and there were two other players at the table who were over 40. Joe Hachem was 39 when he won—the year Harrington made his prediction—so maybe it wasn’t such a good call.

In the years following the boom of online poker, there was likely some effect on the ages of Main Event final tablists, but some research would need to go into determining how much of that was the result of a volume of players of younger ages entering the tournament. There have been 108 players that have reached the official final table of the Main Event from 2005 to now, 16 of them (just under 15%) were over 40. Six of the top 3 finishers from 2005 to 2015 (18%) were were 40 or older: Yang, Lam, and Rahme in 2007; Dennis Phillips in 2008; Darvin Moon in 2009, and Blumenfield in 2015.

Back before the WSOP started, I was asked on a podcast that shall go unnamed what odds I’d put on a player 40 or older winning the Main Event. I took the number of players from last year’s final table that fit the category, divided by the number of overall players, and rounded down to come up with 4:1. It got a bit of laughter from the hosts who are, I believe, both under 40, which I am definitely not. But looking back over this data, I think my off-the-cuff prediction wasn’t too far off.

The chart below has the finishing places for all of the years up to 2015. Positions for 2016 are by chip count at the start of this year’s November Nine. (Updated 2 November 2016 to show the ages of 2016 finishers!) The line with the circles is the winner (or chip leader, for 2016) and the line with the square is the runner-up. You can roll over each year to see names and positions.

#PNWPokerCal Planner for 27 July 2016

A little later post for today’s Planner than usual due to a last-minute engagement last night, but worry not, I’m not going away for a while.

Poker Portland

Despite all the gloom and doom, there is still poker being played in town. I haven’t made the rounds of all of the clubs, but I dropped in on Monday at Final Table for their 11am tournament, which has now been bumped up to a $1,500 guarantee (from $1,000). The format has changed somewhat since May, with two live rebuys ($20 for each buyin) rather than felted rebuys. I hate live rebuys, but I like 11am. What can you do? They got 31 players, 32 rebuys, and 23 addons (also $20), for a prize pool of $1,720 and $695 for 1st. Just missed the money there.

Tuesday was The Game. I got there not long after opening while the single table they had was running 1/1 NLHE, didn’t get seated until just before noon when the game switches to 1/2. A couple of players wandered in after 1pm and went on the list. No second table by the time I left before 2pm.

Earlier today I made my first trip back to Portland Meadows since I got back a week ago. Their noon $1,500 guarantee started off with just a single table, but was up to 38 entries with 10 rebuys ($30 each) by the time I busted in round 5 (no rebuy for me today). They were still under the guarantee, but only by $60 and there was still another 30 minutes left before the break for rebuys and addons. On the way there, I drove by Aces Full (site down for maintenance, it says, and the last item on their official Facebook page is from June, but there was an A-board out front and the ‘OPEN’ sign was on).

Fall Coast Poker Classic Satellites

Every Sunday noon through September 4th, there’s a 1 Seat guaranteed tournament for the Main Event of the Fall Coast Poker Classic at Chinook Winds in Lincoln City. According to Devin Sweet, who’s worked the last couple of Chinook Winds series as a tournament official, the poker room has been moved upstairs.

Photo via Devin Sweet/NW Poker Facebook group.

Details for the series are not yet available on the Chinook Winds web site, but you can check out the NW Poker Facebook link above for a look at the schedule. The Main Event satellites are $20 buyin with a $10 entry fee and $10 dealer appreciation fee, $20 rebuys through level 4 and a $20 addon at level 4. The buyins are for 10K chips, and according to the info on the web site, the dealer appreciation (half the cost of the buyin) only gets you 1K in chips, which seems odd, so check at the desk to make sure it’s not a typo. The addon is 20K. Each Main Event seat is $550 dollars.

Deal of the Week: Surviving the Bike

The WPT Legends of Poker starts its month-long run Thursday at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. There are a number of interesting events on the schedule, but some items that caught my budget-conscious eye are coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Event 14 is a $240 buyin $500K guarantee with two days of play and five days of entry flights (with two flights per day). 10% of the players from each of the flights go to Day 2. Everyone who makes Day 2 gets $400. You can play more than one flight and if you qualify twice, you get $2K. You can buy directly into Day 2 for $1,750, and there are two mega satellites for Day 2 entry ($200 buyin).

The last two flights for the $500K run on 9 August at noon and 5:30pm. Day 2 is 10 August. Also on 10 August is a $365 Survivor, with a $3K payout for the top 10%. Roundtrip flight to LAX midweek is less than $300 right now, you can take a couple shots at the $500K with a backup for the Survivor (and/or a satellite for the $4K WPT Main Event  the night of the 10th) for about $1,500 plus the cost of a room.

This Week In Portland Poker

Big events are a bit leaner these days. I haven’t spotted any special events this week, but here’s a few items.

  • Friday night at 7pm at Final Table is an $8K guarantee with $40 buyin, 2 live rebuys, and a $40 addon. Next week will be the First Friday $20K, which the July schedule on the site says is $100 with a live rebuy and $50 addon. but which the home page says will be $60 with 2 live rebuys and $40 addon for the 5 August event.
  • The Portland Meadows schedule has a $10K scheduled for Saturday at noon ($70 entry/reentry and $40 addon) and a $5K noon Sunday ($50 buyin and reentry, $30 addon).

Follow @pokermutant on Twitter to get updates on late-breaking specials.

Only a Day Away

  • The Ante Up Poker Tour World Championship continues at Thunder Valley. This weekend is the Monolith (everyone’s going for names inspired by the Colossus, but this just reminds me of 2001), a $250K guarantee with a $425 buyin. There are two flights on Friday (11am and 4pm) and a morning flight on Saturday, with Day 2 on Sunday. Sunday also has a $10K Bounty tournament. Monday is a $5K HORSE event, and two satellites into next wee’s $100K Action 8, NLHE 8-Max tournament ($250 buyin) Next Wednesday is a $20K NLHE 6-Max event, then a 2-day $400 buyin Heads Up tournament on Thursday. Next Friday and Saturday are entry days for the $500K Main Event ($1,650 buyin).
  • This weekend at the WPT Legends of Poker opening is a $200K eventwith six starting flights over three days (Friday through Sunday). $240 buyin with direct buyin on Day 2 (Monday) for $1,500. Next week includes a number of single-day events, including the odd mixture of Big O/Omaha 8/Stud 8 (next Thursday, $235 entry). A week from Friday is the beginning of Event 14, mentioned in the Deal section above.
  • The Tulalip $10K added tournament and Muckleshoot $3K added game are both on Sunday.
  • The Summer SuperStack at Calgary’s Deerfoot Inn kicks off on 10 August. The first event is a C$550 buyin with three starting days.
  • 10 August is also the start of the Venetian August Weekend Extravaganza. The big event is a three entry day $80K for $250. They are partnering with the Bicycle Casino to award seats to the Mega Millions event running during the Legends of Poker.