When we went to press, there was some disquiet among both players and organisers over the poor turnout of 95 players for the mega-buy-in $50 000 H.O.R.S.E.competition. The decision by ESPN to drop the H.O.R.S.E. event from its television taping schedule for the 2009 WSOP after disappointing ratings the last two years appeared to have been vindicated….or was part of the problem, depending on who you talked to.
Some experts, among them Daniel Negreanu, said that in 2006 the event had a more attractive format that featured No-Limit Hold'em being played exclusively at the final table with the rest of the tournament using the H.O.R.S.E. mix. This was changed in 2007 and for the third year in a row the H.O.R.S.E. mix will be used all the way through the final table this year.
Negreanu's contention is that the 2006 format had greater television appeal. Mike Matusow and Andy Bloch appear to agree with the poker ace that the lack of television coverage was the probably cause for the sadly depleted field for this year's event.
Whatever the reason, the field this year was the smallest in the history of the event, which brought in 143 players in 2006 and 148 in 2007 and 2008.