It's said every year with the release of the World Series of Poker schedule: there's something for everyone. The 2012 WSOP schedule features 61 WSOP bracelet events and from May 27 through July 16, players from around the world will return to Las Vegas and the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino with hopes of capturing one of the elusive bracelets that can define a poker player's career.
The one bracelet that trumps them all is the one reserved for the WSOP main event champion and this year, the winner will have his or her hands on it a few weeks earlier.
The main event begins on Saturday, July 7 and will offer three starting days. Survivors from Day 1A and 1B will return for their Day 2 on July 10. Those who made it through Day 1C will return to action on Wednesday, July 11, and the field will combine for the first time on Day 3, July 12. Each day will feature five full levels each day (10 hours of play) and only nine players will earn their seats at the final table on July 16.
While the delayed format remains, gone is the "November Nine." The lucky nine that advance to the final table will leave Las Vegas for nearly 15 weeks and return on Oct. 28 to play until only two remain. The champion will be crowned on Oct. 30 in the Penn & Teller Theater.
The WSOP is able to reduce the number of starting days and total playing time for the main event as a result of an expansion in its footprint at the Rio Convention center. Instead of 378 tables available for use each day in 2011, the 2012 WSOP will have a total of 470 tables available each day.
"This year's WSOP schedule is very exciting," WSOP tournament director Jack Effel said. "We're introducing some fantastic new events, while bringing back many successful stalwarts that our players love. We will expand our footprint this year to include extra tables dedicated to cash games, as well as plenty of satellite and single-day tournament space, so players will have an easy time finding a desirable game without ever having to leave the Rio Convention Center."
The 43rd annual WSOP will begin in typical fashion and the $500 Casino Employees event, but from that point on, a multitude of changes highlight what will definitely be an incredible few months. One of the biggest adjustments to this year's schedule is the $1 million buy-in tournament, "The Big One For One Drop." The buy-in for the event includes an 11 percent donation to charity and the champion will most likely earn the largest first-place prize in poker history.
Other new items on the schedule include the first WSOP re-entry event ($1,500 no-limit hold 'em Event 9, June 2) where players who are eliminated on the first day of play can re-enter the following day. The 2011 WSOP Europe debuted the WSOP's first Mix-Max event and as expected, it's also found on the 2012 WSOP schedule. The $5,000 buy-in Event 6 will play nine-handed on Day 1, six-handed on Day 2 and heads-up from that point on. Continuing with the short-handed theme, the WSOP also announced a four-handed no-limit hold 'em event (Event 28) and a $3,000 heads-up event (Event 3) that will feature a split format of no-limit hold 'em and pot-limit Omaha. The players in that event will change games every 20-minute level.
The last new event is the $1,500 ante-only Event 49. There will be no small and big blinds in this event, but the table will ante at the beginning of every hand.
Removed from the 2012 schedule is the $25,000 heads-up no-limit hold 'em event, but the $50,000 Poker Players' Championship remains on the schedule and will once again crown the best all-around player at the Series. The eight-game mixed event will begin on June 24. The biggest buy in for a heads-up event this year will be $10,000 (Event 12).
Keeping its participants in mind, the WSOP will continue to begin events at either noon or 5 p.m. PT and set strict time limits for the amount of play possible each day. The 10-level rule implemented in 2011 remains (no more than 10 one-hour levels to be played each day), but if a starting day achieves more than 1,500 players, an 11th level will be added with the goal of having the field in the money by the end of the first day. Play will conclude by approximately 2 a.m. every night where an 11th level is required and 12:40 when only 10 levels are completed. Players who make Day 2 in the noon events will return at 1 p.m. PT and 2 p.m. for the events starting at 5 p.m.
Two exhibition events will also draw some intrigue in 2012. On June 30, the WSOP's Doubles event will begin. The one-day event will feature a format where teammates alternate levels hoping to take their single stack to victory. A $560 Bounty event will begin on Friday, July 6 and a bounty will be placed on all former WSOP bracelet winners. Both exhibition events and the three "Daily Deepstack" events will not award a bracelet to the winner.
Pre-registration will open for all events on Feb. 8 at WSOP.com and live satellites will begin on site on May 27.
Below is the complete schedule for the 2012 WSOP. ESPN's broadcast schedule will be announced in the coming months.