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2016 WSOP schedule includes 69 events, main event changes

Joe McKeehen joined the pantheon of WSOP Main Event champions in 2015, winning $7.6 million in the process. AP Photo/John Locher

It may have come a little bit later than in previous years, but the wait for the 2016 World Series of Poker schedule is finally over -- and there's plenty to be excited about in this year's 69-event slate.

All of the big tent-pole events are back for the 2016 WSOP (running from June 1-July 18), save for one -- and more on that later. There are eight brand new events making their debut this summer, widening the spectrum of formats and buy-in levels, which range from $565 to $111,111.

“It’s hard to fathom that this event can continue to grow the way it has,” said WSOP executive director Ty Stewart. “But with the schedule we’ve put together for this year, we are confident 2016 will be another record-breaker at the WSOP.”

There are also a significant number of key changes to the 47th edition of the WSOP. Most tournaments will now pay out 15 percent of the field, as opposed to the traditional 10 percent, and that will lead to far more tournaments reaching the money on Day 1. Perhaps one of the most dramatic changes for this coming summer is the adjustment of start times, which will be one hour earlier for all bracelet events and daily Deepstacks tournaments -- setting the starting times for most bracelet events at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“By paying 50 percent more entrants and reaching the money earlier, we anticipate the 2016 WSOP to be the most rewarding yet,” said WSOP tournament director Jack Effel, who will oversee the tournament for the eleventh straight year. “Our schedule this year really runs the gamut for all levels of poker enthusiasts, so we hope you will peruse the events and make your plans to join us this summer at the Rio.”

Highlights from the schedule release:

  • The Casino Employees no-limit hold 'em event will once again kick things off, getting underway Wednesday, June 1, and for the first time the tournament will allow a single re-entry.

  • Colossus II, the first open event of 2016, starts the following day (June 2) and features both $7 million prize pool and $1 million first place prize guarantees, with six starting sessions spread during three days.

  • Event 4, the first new event on the schedule, is called the 'Top Up Turbo.' It looks to reward players who play single table satellites both online on WSOP.com and at the Rio, as anyone who qualifies in one such tournament earns double the starting stack.

  • A $565 pot-limit Omaha tournament, the smallest-ever buy in for the game in a bracelet event, debuts in Las Vegas after appearing on the 2015 WSOP Europe schedule. Other similar new events include a $1,500 mixed pot-limit Omaha tournament and a $1,500 half no-limit hold 'em, half pot-limit Omaha event.

  • The Millionaire Maker returns with starting flights Friday, June 10 and Saturday, June 11. Both the winner and the runner-up are guaranteed at least $1 million. The Monster Stack is also back, with two starting days of its own (June 24 and 25).

  • The 'Summer Solstice' $1,500 no-limit hold 'em event, which features 90-minute levels, kicks off on the longest day of the year.

  • The biggest buy-in events are bunched toward the end of the summer; The $50,000 Poker Players Championship starts on July 3, the $25,000 pot-limit Omaha high-roller kicks off on July 6 and the $111,111 High Roller for One Drop is the last tournament to start before the main event, on July 8.

  • You may notice the one glaring absence from this schedule -- the biannual $1 million Big One for One Drop. Not to worry, say WSOP officials -- it will take place in 'grand fashion, but it won't be in Las Vegas as part of the summer schedule.' Speaking of One Drop, the main event will not be the last bracelet event of the summer for the first time in nearly a decade -- the Little One for One Drop holds that distinction in 2016.

  • For the first time in more than 20 years, a team bracelet event will be a part of the WSOP schedule. Teams of two to four players will put up a total buy-in of $1,000, with the ability for any inactive team member to 'tag-in' after a minimum of one orbit played by any of their teammates. Each of the players on a team will get their own bracelet.

There are some big changes in store for the main event as well. For 2016, main event players will receive 50,000 in chips -- the most ever given for this tournament (and the new standard for $10,000 events at the WSOP). Either 1,000 places or 15 percent of the main event field will get paid -- whichever of those numbers is bigger. The ante will kick in a bit earlier in the main event, too, changing the dynamic and strategy a bit.

As is the case for most other tournaments this summer, action kicks off at 11 a.m. each day, and players will once again have three starting flights to choose from -- Saturday, July 9, Sunday, July 10 or Monday, July 11. Day 2 will play out on either July 12 or 13, depending on starting session, and the field will combine completely on July 14.

The final summer day of the 2016 WSOP -- the day when the November Nine is set -- is July 18. Coverage of the main event will air toward the end of the summer, and they'll return to play out the final table of the 2016 WSOP main event live on ESPN airwaves from Oct. 30-Nov. 1.

Here's the complete schedule for the 2016 World Series of Poker: