The 2013 World Series of Poker kicked off with its first open bracelet event yesterday. The first major tournament, Event #2 ($5,000 NLH 8-Handed) drew an impressive field of 481. First will earn $553,906. Follow the action here.
As we’ve always said, the WSOP is like Poker ChristmasTM for us. After nearly a decade in the industry, the WSOP is one of the few things that still get us hard, so to speak.
And as an industry, we judge the overall success of poker by the overall success of the WSOP.
With that in mind, here are some key storyline we’ll be following this year.
1. Can WSOP Continue to Buck the Trend? Look around at all the “indicator” tournaments and there’s reason to label a “poker economy recession”TM. Last week’s WPT Championship is down 77 % since its high water mark (639 in 2007). The EPT Grand Final – down 43 percent since 2009. The PCA is down. Aussie Millions down. Black Hawk down.
Like Phil Collins the singer once sang–against all odds–the WSOP has had its two best years for total entries in 2011 and 2012. And as WSOP ED (yes, ED, wtf?) Ty Stewart would say, “That’s post Black Friday, bitches.”
Some industry types have given the WSOP shit for having 3,000 player donkaments every weekend. But repeat, the WSOP has 3,000 player donkaments every weekend! The WSOP is the only event that can consistently draw fields, regardless of buy-in size, of over 1,000 people.
Last year, thanks to that crazy French Canadian (Duhamel) and the One Drop, the WSOP set a record prize money pool of over $220M. This year, with some strategic scheduling, another stunt event (the millionaire maker) to kick things off and an unlimited re-entry mother of all donkaments just prior to the Main Event, Stewart and company are setting their sites squarely on the all-time attendance mark of 75,673. Can the WSOP get there? While still keeping a 6k+ Main Event field? As Asia would say, well, you know.
2. Will WSOP run good continue? For the most part, it’s better for the game when the big stars shine on the biggest stage. And there’s no stage bigger than the WSOP mothership. Literally. It’s the biggest fucking stage ever built for poker. Including Epic’s stage. Which lasted for 3 shows. On $18M in financing. Of which $8M they didn’t even have. But enough about Annie Duke and Jeffrey Pollack’s bad decision making.
After getting perhaps the biggest suck out ever when 2 hot chicks missed out on the Octo-Nine, the WSOP has since been a major fucking heater. Phil Hellmuth wins the WSOPE Main Event. Antonio Esfandiari bags a bracelet. Daniel Negreanu wins the inaugural WSOP APAC and Phil Ivey wins another bracelet. The only thing that could be sicker for the WSOP is if some mainstream sports superstar started chasing bracelets (we’re looking at you, Michael Phelps, who competed in Event #2).
3. Will we finally get someone interesting at the final table? First off, we now that this point is in somewhat direct conflict to the previous point…so fuck off.
This being the 10-year anniversary of the Moneymaker EffectTM, it’s a good time to bring this up: the new breed of poker players are pretty freaking boring.
If poker is going to have another Moneymaker Effect, or even a Darvin Moon Half-WoodieTM, we need to get see some amateurs–or hot chicks–make the Main Event final table. It HAS to happen.
The problem is–with so many good players now–there is so little dead money, it’s nearly impossible for the average home game regular guy to navigate the field to the final 9.
Regardless, or irregardless as the stupid people say, ESPN continues to expand its coverage over multiple mediums. Last year featured 19.5 hours of coverage of the final table alone, including 12 consecutive hours on the flagship network. This year, its back – and the WSOP and ESPN will be featuring hole cards in the broadcast from the top of the hand (about time).
But last year, it was sort of like pulling the curtain back on Oz the great and powerful. Who would think we’d long for the days 2-time main event champ Dennis Phillips?
While Phillips turned out to be a phony douche, his story still resonates. And we need more guys (and gals) like DP (great nickname for someone) to capture the public’s so-called “imagination.”
So again, on the 10th anniversary of Moneymaker, will we finally get lucky with an interesting character taking center stage? Or at least a hot girl? Can we use our one “one time” on this?
4. Will a wsop.com qualifier hoist a bracelet? This point kind of sort of dovetails nicely with the previous point, in that poker needs some “anyone can win” success stories.
As of now, wsop.com has not even launched for real money poker, but it appears they are deadly serious about jump-starting the market. According to Poker Site Scout, Ultimate Poker has been averaging less than 200 players on the site, and their big promo to date has been a 10k free roll. Just for PRE-REGISTERING, not even depositing – WSOP.COM is giving away a seat to the next days event – even including the $111,111 Mini-One Drop.
And each on-site registrant gets access to an exclusive $100k free roll. And there will be $500k of money added tournaments in the days just prior to the November Nine. And this is just for 1 state (Nevada). Looks like Caesars is throwing gauntlet down. If and when the site actually goes live (seriously wtf already), there are bound to immediately be micro-stakes qualifiers for all events.
5. Will “talent” return to the Rio? Listen, we’re putting this one squarely on you, girls.
GOTRs has been in hibernation, but partly because we just haven’t been inspired. Where have you gone Sara Underwood? Trishelle? Ass Girl? Where the eff are you?!
Hopefully this is the year when the hotties pack it up from the dime a dozen day life pools and come over to skank out chasing degenerates at the Rio convention center.
One can only dream…