WSOP Q and A with Tournament Director Jack Effel

WSOP TD Jack Effel telling the Amazon Room to "Shuffle Up and Deal."
Cards get into the air at the 43rd World Series of Poker on Sunday, and once the tournaments starts it will be WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel who will oversee all 61 bracelet events at the Rio.

There are many new tournaments and interesting rule changes in store for this summer and Effel sat down with BLUFF to discuss what’s in store for the next seven weeks.

BLUFF: Each year has a big, new event that provides a certain flavor to that summer. How do you guys decide which big tournament to feature in any given year, like the $1 million tournament this year?

Effel: The Big One for One Drop has been a work in progress, it has been Guy Laliberte’s brainchild for the last couple years to get a huge buy-in event, so we were able to collaborate and bring it to life. The 40th year anniversary tournament was really kind of funny. I was sitting around with my wife trying to think of what it could be when my wife blurted out: “Why don’t you have a $40,000 no limit event,” that’s literally where that one came from.

The $25,000 heads-up required a little more thought, we wanted to do something cool for television. We always want to have an event that is a showcase that stands out as the special event of the year. I think a $1 million buy-in gets everyone’s attention. We want something that will make a statement and then we create it.

BLUFF: Can you address some of the rule changes for the 2012 WSOP? Specifically, the rules regarding table talk, celebrations, and verbally announcing action at televised final tables?

Effel: You want to create an environment where people can compete without distraction. But I also think that poker is a game that has a social aspect that brings out certain emotions in people and that shouldn’t be contained. By taking away certain elements of that, it changes the game and makes it dull and unpleasant and boring to a certain degree. You want players to respect each other but have fun at the same time.

There are a lot of people saying that they don’t like to talk because they feel that it is going to give something away. Well, then they need to learn how to use that as a strategy. Because, if you know going in that’s what the rules are then you should be able to adjust accordingly. You can talk about the contents of your hand as long as nobody else in the hand has a decision to make.

The rule-88 change about verbalizing action at the featured final tables … that is in regards to television and the fact that players on TV are boring. If you want people to continue to want to participate in poker events and get involved in poker, then it should be something fun. It will loosen the players up and yes, some will give up some information, but if you are a good player you will adjust. You know that if you make a final or featured streaming table that you’re going to have to announce your action. Those are the only times, those final tables and those featured tables.

We want to continue to make poker grow, and we want people to continue to be interested in it. And we obviously want to make it fun for everyone while keeping it as serious as every dollar being played for is.

BLUFF: What new events will be the most interesting for players this year?

My favorite by far is the mix-max. That was my baby. We were sitting around trying to figure out what we could play in Europe because in France all we could play was no limit hold’em and PLO, and the players came up with the idea of doing the re-seat here at the WSOP for the final 32.

I think the four-max is going to be exciting, those players are going to bust fast. I think we’ll lose half of that field in 7-8 hours. I think the short-handed specialists are really going to be jumping at the bit to play in that event.

BLUFF: What can we expect from the WSOP National Championship in 2012?

Effel: I think that when you combine the top bracelet holders and point earners for the WSOP, with the top earners from the Circuit, I think you get a true championship. There is not another tour out there that is offering a $1 million televised championship for their qualifiers. That’s pretty significant in today’s age with all that’s happened. I hope the players appreciate that … because we appreciate all of their support we’ve gotten.

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