It is official. The first event of the 2018 WSOP is underway as I write this story. The WSOP has many meanings to many people. Some of the pros and staff call it summer camp. Other people view it as their opportunity to make a mark in the poker world. Some pros view it as an opportunity to make some money. A lot of recreational players see it as a chance to go compete with the best of the best. And the fans love coming to watch their favorite players play. No matter which camp you fall into, the WSOP is the most exciting time of the year for a poker player/fan.
For me, the excitement really starts to build when I start to get the texts asking how many events I play to play this year. I know this is so people can try to create a value for fantasy drafts. It is always pretty flattering and fun being drafted. This year I was in the top 50 in the 25k fantasy draft. I have been undrafted and in the top 20 in the last 5 years. The fantasy drafts really represent another way for the fans to interact with the players.
As for how the fans interact, there has been quite a controversy this week regarding Phil Hellmuth and his sale on the YouStake.com site. Personally, I think it is a great way to interact and grow a fan base. I am actually considering doing it myself for an event or two this year.
The biggest issue I have heard from people is regarding the Mark Up and whether or not it is a good deal. For many fans, they simply don’t care about the value. You hear stories of people buying betting tickets for the Vegas Knights to simply have a souvenir. No one says that is silly. To be fair, this actually worked out pretty well. But I am willing to bet that if Justify wins the triple crown, a significant amount of winning tickets will go uncashed.
People pay prices well above face value to go to the Warriors games. What makes that bad? Some one puts a value on an experience, decides if it is worth it to them, and then pays for it.
SO if someone is going to get a lot of enjoyment out of “backing” their favorite poker pro, this really feels like a win-win situation. Phil gets to set the price, so he is obviously comfortable, and the fan gets to choose whether to buy. I know there are probably a lot of people who have more equity over paying for a pro that they would have playing on their own. They probably know this too and are happy to have an opportunity to be involved.
Imagine how fun it would be to sweat a pro at the final table and actually have money riding on the result?