WSOP Event #34: Rebuys, Rebuys, Rebuys

Everyone please welcome Max Shapiro to Team Blog. More on his arrival will come in the next couple days as we announce the entirety of the 2006 WSOP Team Blog. For now, enjoy his insight on the $1,000 rebuy event.

By Max Shapiro

With records being set every day at the World Series of Poker, one in particular deserves to make the Guinness Book of World Records. In event number 34, which was $1,000 no-limit hold'em with rebuys, Daniel Negreanu took the rebuys part rather literally, making a reported 46 of them, along with the two allowable add-ons, thus shattering all WSOP records in this category. The 754 players in this event made 1,691 rebuys and add-ons, averaging a bit more than two per player, so Negreanu's 48 registered slightly above average. The major carnage came after he was moved to a second table where a player was to win numerous consecutive hands, with Negreanu all in for most of them.

In the past, this buy-the-house strategy has paid off for Daniel. For example, in a 2004 WSOP event where 638 players made 534 rebuys, he made 27 of them, but recouped nearly four times his investment when he finished third and collected $100,940. A few years before that, I recall seeing him make about 25 or so rebuys at another WSOP tournament and he still came out well ahead.

This year, however, the tactic failed him, because he did not make it past day one of the three-day event. However, Negreanu, one of the most recognizable and successful players on the tournament trail, the 2004 Player of the Year, the former poker ambassador for the Wynn, and a regular in some of the biggest cash games around, will hardly miss the $49,000 or so he dropped in this tourney. After all, it wasn't even as much as the $50,000 buy-in for the WSOP's H.O.R.S.E. event.

But while he couldn't buy this tournament, the rampage of rebuys by Negreanu and other pros like Mike Matusow should give pause to recreational players who unthinkably enter a World Series rebuy event. On the one hand, a player determined to struggle on only one bullet would be getting a terrific overlay. On the other hand, he would be at a slight disadvantage when a Daniel Negreanu would be able to buy nearly 50 times as many chips as he did.

Now, the concept of buying a bracelet is nothing new. The most well-known case in point came when Maria Stern, wife of Dr. Max Stern, got heads-up in a World Series event a number of years ago and made an under-the-table deal with her opponent, who collected the bulk of the prize money for blowing off his chips and letting her win. When the word got around, Maria acknowledged what she had done and publicly apologized. But she still got to keep the bracelet.

But attempting to buy a tournament, legally and in the open through numerous rebuys, is something that is unique to poker. Which gives me an idea. Why couldn't this scheme apply to other sports?

Let's take golf. Tiger Woods tees off. He shanks the ball and it lands in a tree. No problem. He adds $1,000 to the prize pool and gets to rebuy another drive. Or take Barry Bonds. He needs one more home run to set a new record. But he strikes out. "Boo," goes the crowd. Hold on. Bonds hands over a wad of cash and gets to take a few more swings.

Or, let's picture a heavyweight championship boxing match. The champ is down. The count reaches 10, and he can't get up. But he groggily pulls some bills out of his trunks, hands it to the referee, and the count resumes: "11, 12, 13..." The champ is still down at the count of 20. More cash. "21, 22..." for as long as it takes for him to get up.

All right, now let's get back to poker. I have a really sensational idea. Instead of limiting rebuys to the first two hours, how about making them allowable throughout the entire event?

Here's the picture. Structure the $10,000 championship match for totally unlimited rebuys. Then you induce someone like Bill Gates to enter. After four weeks of play, he's made about 40,000 rebuys and the prize pool is up to about $500 million. Naturally, he has to eventually win because he's got more money to invest than anyone else until he outlasts the field. He captures the bracelet, gets world champion boasting rights and first place prize money of about $120 million. Of course, he's personally put in about $400 million of the $500 million in the prize pool, so the next several thousand players down the ladder make out like bandits. Can anyone think of a more perfect scenario?

You see, the trouble with the World Series of Poker is that the people who run it can't see things through like I can. I'm available for 2007, guys.

Otis' note: In other news in the $1,000 rebuy event, Team PokerStars' Humberto Brenes is daring to make the final table. With 16 players remaining, Brenes sits in fourth place with $207,000 in chips to the chip-leaders $493,000.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker