When Damian Salas won the WSOP Main Event International final table his victory was overshadowed by the absence of seat number nine.
Peiyuan Sun opted not to attend. He took the perfectly sensible decision not to endanger himself and others with international travel during a pandemic. And his reward was that he doesn’t even appear on the official list of Final Table Results. That is because this year GGPoker’s WSOP had a rule in the small print that meant players in absentia at the final table would be disqualified rather than blinded out.
More than this, players would be tested for the coronavirus, and if infected, would be disqualified. This rule will apply to the Domestic final table too.
The payouts at the final table ran from $75,360 (paid out to Sun for DQ in 9th) up to $1,550,969 for first. Even attending the tournament and surviving just two extra spots would have more than doubled Sun’s payday.
Players like Max Silver expressed concerns rather bluntly. “Seems extra f***ed up to just DQ a player not wanting to travel to the WSOP main event FT in 9th rather than blinding him off giving him a chance to ladder.”
Gambling has never been riskier
There is something perverse about bribing people to roll the dice on self-harm. But it seems actively foolish to incentivize a group of people who deal in percentages, risk, and the resultant E.V. to try and beat the system for a $1.5 million payday.
The eight final tableists who turned up did so in order to play poker around an indoor table without plexiglass screens on a crowded TV set. Every single one of them traveled internationally to do so. They will return to their home countries by plane, train, and automobile. Even the first-class cabins don’t give you 2 meter’s space between seats.
The nations list on this final table includes Brazil, Argentina, and Spain. All high-risk zones. Czechia itself is sat between Argentina and the U.S., with the 13th worst reported death per million. The U.S. has the 12th worst and that’s where the WSOP is headed next.
Not everyone sees it this way. In reply to Silver’s post, poker journo Chad Holloway pointed out that the rules were established in advance. “Whatever their reasoning, as long as it’s clearly explained and players opt to still play under those terms, I personally don’t see the issue,” he tweeted.
Rolling the bones in Vegas
The countdown has started on the 2020 WSOP Main Event Domestic. Everyone in the room at the Rio, from the first place winner to the on-set grips and gophers, will be from a high-risk area.
GGPoker’s rules for this final table were designed to get everyone they can into the room at the Rio. They want a T.V. spectacle. Something on a par with previous year’s Main Event Final Tables. It’s hard to see how that could happen though.
In their efforts to wring money from the WSOP partnership faster than they wring the prestige from it, GGPoker has mishandled many parts of the WSOP this year. From server failures and delayed tournaments to RTA scandals.
But the errors in the summer were a farce. This time it feels like tragedy.
Featured image source: Twitter