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Queens of Heart Team Offers Seat at Ladies WSOP - 15th January 2009
(Credit: Poker News Daily)

One events that has grown in numbers as well as prestige at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) over the past few years has been the Ladies’ No Limit Hold’em Championship. Since 2005, when Jennifer Tilly captured the title against 600 other players, the tournament has doubled in size and routinely drawn well over 1,000 players for each event in succeeding years (reaching an apex of 1,286 in 2007). It’s probably a matter of time before the poker rooms online start offering satellites to the Ladies Event. The tournament, while a competition, has also allowed an elite organization to make its mark through charitable means.

The Queens of Heart organization has been a part of the event since 2006, drawing attention to women’s health issues and raising over $100,000 for charities such as the Nevada Cancer Institute and the American Heart Association through the team’s winnings. This year, one player will have a chance to stand beside the ladies as a member of the Queens of Heart by proving she is the best player over a four week series.

Starting on January 24th, there will be a series of four tournaments (the three other dates for tournaments are February 28th, March 28th, and April 25th) called the Queens of Heart League, held at Harrah’s in Las Vegas at noon. The $80+$20 buy-in events will be for women only and, at the end of the four tournaments, the overall winner will earn a prestigious seat alongside the other ladies making up the Queens of Heart at this year’s Ladies tournament at the WSOP. In addition to the seat at the Ladies’ WSOP event, the league champion will also join her teammates in a luncheon with WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack on the Saturday before the event.

While the team has yet to be announced for 2009, the roster of players who have played for the Queens of Heart in the past reads like a who’s who of the celebrity and poker worlds. Celebrity stars such as actresses Mimi Rogers, Joely Fisher, Teri Hatcher, Cheryl Hines, Camryn Manheim, and author Jackie Collins have been members. Professional poker players such as 2006 WSOP Ladies Event runner-up Shawnee Barton, 2007 WSOP Ladies Event champion Sally Anne Boyer, two-time Ladies Event winner Barbara Enright, Maureen Feduniak, Clonie Gowen, Poker News Daily Columnist Linda Johnson, 2006 WSOP Ladies champion Mary Jones, and 2007 Legends of Poker Ladies champion Pamela Brunson have also lent their efforts as members of the team.

In the past, the Queens of Heart league event had been run by one of the co-founders of the organization, Lisa Tenner, and her group Tenner and Associates. This year, however, the WSOP is assuming operation of the league, which Tenner views favorably. “I am honored about the incredible success, charity, and awareness for good health that Tenner and Associates brought to the World Series of Poker on behalf of ‘Queens of Heart’ and the move to having the league led by the WSOP is a win-win for all concerned,” stated Tenner in a press release. “I am also proud that the ‘Queens of Heart’ is a part of the history, tradition, and the future of the WSOP.”

The Queens of Heart organization has shown that while poker is a competitive activity, it is focused on charity as well.


WSOP Europe to Air on February 1st, by Dan Cypra - 5th January 2009
(Credit: Poker News Daily)

Move over, Super Bowl. There’s a new sheriff in town. On Sunday, February 1st, the first four of episodes of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Europe Main Event will air on ESPN at 6:00pm ET; there will be eight episodes in total. The Super Bowl, which is one of the world’s most watched sporting events, kicks off at 6:30pm ET.

At 10:00pm ET on February 1st, an encore presentation of the first two episodes will air on ESPN2 for those who were watching “The Big Game.” The WSOP Europe festivities consisted of four separate tournaments, culminating in a £10,350 buy-in event that drew 362 players. At the end of the day, Full Tilt Poker pro John Juanda became just the second WSOP Europe Main Event champion ever, joining Annette “Annette_15” Obrestad, who won the prestigious title in 2007.

ESPN Senior Director of Communications, George McNeilly, told Poker News Daily, “An opportunity presented itself to air the WSOP-Europe in prime time on ESPN. We always strive to serve the widest variety of sports fans and we hope poker fans tune in for the prime time episodes.”

The WSOP Europe tournaments were held at the Casino at the Empire in London’s Leicester Square. The epicenter of the city’s theater district, Leicester Square also houses several casinos. Doug White, ESPN’s Senior Director of Programming and Acquisitions, commented in a press release that the atmosphere of this event is vastly different than the one filmed at the Rio in Las Vegas: “The intimate look and feel of this tournament is different from other WSOP events we produced in the United States.” The press release explains that players at the Casino at the Empire were seated “in a side room, under the stairs, behind the bar, near the roulette tables, and in front of an ice cream shop.”

ESPN is also employing a mobile hole card camera in order to be able to show what players hold in key hands no matter where they are seated. In the past, ESPN has used the Henry Orenstein invention only for its feature table as well as “Table 2.” Jamie Horowitz, ESPN’s Senior Sports Producer, explained the importance of this addition for WSOP Europe’s coverage: “We believe the Mobile Hole Card Camera will provide fans a great understanding of the overall story behind the tournament, and how the players advanced to the final table.”

Super Bowl XLIII will be held in Tampa, Florida on February 1st. The game pits the top team from the National Football Conference (NFC) against the top team from the American Football Conference (AFC). The game kicks off at 6:30pm ET and will go head to head with ESPN’s WSOP Europe coverage. The Super Bowl is viewed in dozens of countries around the world and advertising spots regularly come with a seven-figure price tag. The NFL playoffs will enter their Divisional round this weekend, with the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and San Diego Chargers remaining in the hunt for the AFC. In the NFC, the defending champion New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, and Philadelphia Eagles are still in contention.

The schedule for the WSOP Europe on ESPN2 is as follows:

Sunday, February 1st
10:00pm: Episode #1
11:00pm: Episode #2

Sunday, February 8th
10:00pm: Episode #3
11:00pm: Episode #4

Sunday, February 15th
10:00pm: Episode #5
11:00pm: Episode #6

Sunday, March 1st
10:00pm: Episode #7
11:00pm: Episode #8

The WSOP Europe Main Event attracted all of the heavy hitters in the poker world. The final table featured WSOP November Nine member Ivan Demidov, who became the first person ever to reach the final tables of both the WSOP and WSOP Europe Main Events in the same year; Demidov finished third in London and second in Las Vegas for well over $6 million total. Also seated at the WSOP Europe Main Event final table are Daniel Negreanu and Scott Fischman. Lon McEachern and Norman Chad will provide commentary for the event.

The schedule for the 2009 WSOP has not yet been released. (Credit: Poker News Daily)


The World Series of Poker is the largest set of poker tournaments in the world. It is held annually in Las Vegas, lasting just over a month. A bracelet is awarded to the winner of each of the fifty-plus events which include all the major varieties of poker. The series culminates with the $10,000 no-limit hold'em "Main Event", which in recent years has attracted entry fields numbering in the thousands, with the victor receiving a multi-million dollar prize.


The original World Series of Poker was started in 1968 by Tom Moore of San Antonio, Texas, at the Holiday Hotel and Casino in Reno and was an invitational event. This inaugural event was won by Crandell Addington who went on to place in the top ten of the World Series of Poker Main Event eight times, a record that still stands as of 2007. The set of tournaments that the World Series of Poker (WSOP) would evolve into was the brainchild of Las Vegas casino owner and poker player Benny Binion, as well as his two sons Jack and Ted.

The Binion family nurtured not only the WSOP, but poker in general. Prior to the 1970s, poker was not found at many casinos because of the difficulty of keeping cheaters out. Through better security techniques as well as the Binion's tireless promotion through events like the WSOP, poker became a very popular game.

In 1970, the first WSOP at Binion's Horseshoe took place as a series of cash games that included five-card stud, deuce to seven low-ball draw, razz, seven-card stud, and Texas hold 'em. The format for the Main Event as a freeze-out Texas hold 'em game came the next year. The winner in 1970, Johnny Moss, was elected by his peers as the first World Champion of Poker and received a silver cup as a prize.


From 1971 on, all WSOP events have been tournaments with cash prizes. In 1973 a new event, Five-card stud, was added to the main event of no limit Texas hold 'em. Since then new events have been added and removed. In 2006 there were 45 events at the WSOP, covering the majority of poker variants. Currently, Texas hold 'Em, Omaha hold 'em and Seven-card stud and their lowball variants (if any) are played. H.O.R.S.E. has been played in the past and returned in 2006. Also, S.H.O.E. has been played in the past, and returned in 2007. Other events played in the past include Chinese poker, Five card stud, and many others. Each event winner gets a coveted gold bracelet as well as the grand prize money, which by tradition is paid in cash brought in cardboard boxes.

Phil Hellmuth has the most bracelets with eleven. Runners-up Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan have each won ten bracelets. Doyle's son, Todd Brunson, won a bracelet in a $2,500 Omaha Eight-or-better event in 2005, making them the first and only father/son combo to win at least one event at the WSOP. Also, celebrities Patrick Bruel, Jan Vang Sørensen and Jennifer Tilly have won WSOP bracelets in 1998, 2002 and 2005 respectively.

The number of participants in the WSOP has grown almost every year, and in recent years the growth has exploded. In 2000 there were 4,780 entrants in the various events, but in 2005, the number rose to over 23,000 players. In the main event alone, the number of participants grew from 839 in 2003 to 8,773 in 2006. This was known as the "Moneymaker Effect", named after unknown rookie Chris Moneymaker, who won the main event after having qualified for just $39 through a satellite tournament. Much of this growth can also be attributed to the WSOP airing on ESPN and the World Poker Tour being shown on the Travel Channel, along with other televised series, as well as the boom of online poker.

Like most tournaments, the sponsoring casino takes an entry fee (a percentage between 6% and 10%, depending on the buy-in) and distributes the rest, hence the prize money increases with more players. In the 2005 main event $52,818,610 (US) in prize money was distributed among 560 players, with $7.5 million to first prize.

Harrah's Takes "The Pot"

In 2004, Harrah's Entertainment purchased Binion's Horseshoe, kept the rights to the Horseshoe and World Series of Poker brands, sold the hotel and casino to MTR Gaming Group, and announced that the 2005 Series events would be held at the Harrah's-owned Rio Hotel and Casino, located just off the Las Vegas Strip. The final two days of the main event in 2005 were held downtown at what is now the MTR operated "Binion's" in celebration of the centennial of the founding of Las Vegas. It also added a made-for-television $2 million "freeroll" invitational "Tournament of Champions" (TOC) event first won by Annie Duke as a "winner-take-all" event.

Starting in 2005, the WSOP began a tournament "circuit" at Harrah's-owned properties in the United States where in addition to the $10,000 buy-in tournament at each site, qualifying players became eligible for a revamped Tournament of Champions. The 2005 TOC, made up of the top twenty qualifying players at each circuit event, along with the final table from the 2005 Main Event and the winners of nine or more bracelets (Johnny Chan, Doyle Brunson, and Phil Hellmuth) would participate in the revamped TOC at Caesar's Palace. Mike "The Mouth" Matusow won the first prize of $1 million (US), and all the players at the final table were guaranteed a minimum of $25,000 for the eighth and ninth place finishers. During a break in the final table of the 2005 Main Event on July 16, Harrah's announced that eleven properties — including the recently added Bally's and Caesar's properties — would host 2005-06 WSOP Circuit events that started on August 11 in Tunica, Mississippi. One event, that was scheduled for Biloxi, Mississippi was canceled after the Grand Casino Biloxi, which was scheduled to host the event, suffered major damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The Rio also hosted the 2006 World Series of Poker, which began on June 25 with satellite events and formally began the day after with the annual Casino Employee event, won in 2006 by Chris Gros. 2006 featured the "Tournament of Champions" on June 25 and 26, won by Mike Sexton. Various events led up to the main event, which was held from July 28 until August 10. The first prize of $12 million was awarded to Jamie Gold.

The Marketing of the WSOP

Like any event or sports league, the WSOP also has corporate sponsors and licensed products which pay fees to market themselves as an official sponsor and/or licensee and exclusively use the WSOP insignia and cross-promote with their events. Besides the Harrah's properties and ESPN, major sponsors have included Miller Brewing's "Milwaukee's Best" brand of beers, Pepsi's SoBe Adrenaline Rush energy drink (sponsors of the 2005 TOC), Helene Curtis' Degree brand of anti-perspirant/deodorant, United States Playing Card's Bicycle Pro Cards, Bluff magazine, GlaxoSmithKline/Bayer's Levitra erectile dysfunction medicine, and The Hershey Company. Licensees include Glu Mobile, Activision (video games for different platforms such as Nintendo's GameCube, Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation 2 and PC featuring computer generated versions of stars like Ferguson among others), and products made by different companies ranging from chip sets, playing cards, hand held games and clothing like caps and shirts. The fees and licenses bring in more than a million dollars to Harrah's.

WSOP television coverage

The earliest filming of the World Series was a special produced by Binion's Horseshoe in 1973 and narrated by Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. CBS began covering the World Series in the late 1970s. In the early 1980s, the event was again broadcast as specials. In the late 1980s, the World Series returned to television as ESPN took over broadcasting. Initially, coverage consisted of just a single one hour taped delay broadcast of the main event. ESPN Classic currently airs many of the old broadcasts, especially from the mid 1990s and beyond. The most striking thing about the early coverage is how little was actually shown, since no "pocket cam" existed. Generally, ESPN used poker-playing actors such as Dick Van Patten, Vince Van Patten, and Gabe Kaplan, with either the tournament director (usually Jim Albrecht) or a poker pro like Phil Hellmuth joining the team. Early coverage was relatively primitive compared to what ESPN does now, with no pre-taped interviews or profiles on the players. The commentators were actually on the casino floor itself. The 2002 WSOP was the first with the "sneak peek" (later called the pocket cam, or hole cam). 2003 was the first year that the broadcast covered action preceding the final table.

Since then, ESPN has greatly expanded its coverage to include many of the preliminary events of the WSOP, especially Texas Hold 'Em. Also, their coverage of the main event now typically includes at least one hour program on each day. For the first two years of its existence, ESPN was broadcasting one hour programs of the "circuit" events that the WSOP has at various Harrah's-owned casinos, but ESPN did not renew these events. ESPN's coverage now includes many of the trappings of sports coverage, such as lighter segments (called "The Nuts") and interviews.

ESPN's coverage has been largely driven by Matt Maranz, Executive Producer for the WSOP telecasts. Maranz leads 441 Productions, which produces the telecast under contract to ESPN's unit ESPN Original Entertainment (EOE). Maranz has significant sports production experience, having previously worked on ESPN's football pre-game show, and has also produced taped segments for NBC's Olympic coverage.

In 2000 and 2001, the World Series of Poker was broadcast by The Discovery Channel. These hour long programs presented more of an overview or recap of the WSOP as opposed to broadcasting an actual live event with play-by-play analysis and color commentary. The Discovery Channel's broadcast also featured final table players interviews interlaced throughout the show. ESPN would resume coverage the following year.

ESPN's coverage in 2002 was typical of their coverage in the 1990s (recorded in video, little or no post-production commentary or player profiles, no card cams). However, the final table broadcast was expanded over two one-hour episodes.

In 2003, ESPN expanded their coverage to new heights with their coverage of the WSOP. They included coverage of the entire tournament, with a "Featured Table". At this table, the viewers could see the player's hole cards and subsequent strategy. The action was also broadcast as if live, though on tape-delay. This level of coverage arguably led to the popularity boom of No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em.

Coverage would increase in 2004 and 2005 to include preliminary events from the WSOP, in addition to the "Main Event".

ESPN has expanded poker to all-new levels, especially with their coverage of the 2006 WSOP, including providing the entire final table of the 2006 Main Event via pay-per-view airing.

WSOP Broadcasters

2007 (ESPN) - Lon McEachern and Norman Chad; Phil Gordon and Ali Nejad in Main Event Pay-per-view; (ESPN Deportes/ESPN Latin America - Spanish) - Gabriela Hill and Fernando Alvarez

The Main Event

The Main Event of the WSOP has been the $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold 'Em (TXHE) tournament since 1972. (In 1971, the buy-in was $5,000.) Winners of the event not only get the largest prize of the tournament and a gold bracelet, but additionally their picture is placed into the Gallery of Champions at Binion's.

The winner of the Main Event has traditionally been given the unofficial title of World Champion. However the game's top professionals have stated that the recently-added $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event is the one which ultimately decides the world's best player. H.O.R.S.E. is an event in which Hold 'em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Eight-or-better are all played. The H.O.R.S.E. tournament was won by Chip Reese in 2006 and Freddy Deeb in 2007. It should be noted that the professionals played a major role in convincing WSOP management to stage an event with a much larger buy-in than the Main Event; the growth of poker tournaments and the World Series (by way of "The Moneymaker Effect") had resulted in fields with a far greater number of amateurs in proportion to professionals. Hence, the Main Event now has a much greater likelihood of producing winners who are amateurs and/or relatively unknown players. The professionals sought to create an event which was far more likely to produce a more well-rounded poker professional as the eventual winner. The $50,000 buy-in, being five times larger than the buy-in for the Main Event, has thus far tended to deter amateurs from playing in the H.O.R.S.E. tournament.

There have been many memorable moments during the main events, including Jack Straus's 1982 comeback win after discovering he had one $500 chip left when he thought he was out of the tournament.

Four players have won the main event multiple times: Johnny Moss (1971 and 1974), Doyle Brunson (1976 and 1977), Stu Ungar (1980, 1981 and 1997) and Johnny Chan (1987 and 1988).

The end of the 1988 main event was featured in the movie Rounders.

Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, the winners in 2003 and 2004, both qualified for the main event through satellite tournaments at the PokerStars online cardroom.

Jerry Yang, the winner in 2007, had only been playing poker for two years prior to his victory. He won his seat at a $225 satellite tournament at Pechanga Resort & Casino.

All players (including former champions, celebrities, and professional poker players) must supply the $10,000 buy-in in order to participate.

Player of the Year

Since 2004, a Player of the Year Award has been given to the player with the most points accumulated throughout the World Series. Only "open" events in which all players can participate count in the standings. Beginning with the 2006 World Series of Poker, the Main Event and the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. competition had no effect on the outcome of the winner of the Player of the Year award.

World Series of Poker Europe

The World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) is the first expansion of the World Series of Poker. Since 1970, the event has occurred every year in Las Vegas. In September 2007, the first WSOP championship events outside of Las Vegas, complete with bracelets, were held. The inaugural WSOPE consisted of three events held in London from September 6-17, 2007. The main event, a GBP 10,000 buy-in no-limit hold 'em tournament, was won by Norwegian online prodigy Annette Obrestad on the day before her 19th birthday. This made her the youngest person ever to win a WSOP bracelet, a record that cannot be broken in the Las Vegas WSOP under current laws because the minimum legal age for casino gaming in Nevada is 21. Obrestad could play in the WSOPE because the minimum age for casino gaming in the United Kingdom is 18.

While no definitive plans have been announced, WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack has indicated that in the next one to three years that other venues may start holding WSOP events. Two locations that have been mentioned as possible expansion sites are Egypt and South Africa.

Other information

In 2005, a video game based on the tournament was released for several consoles and the computer. A sequel called World Series of Poker: Tournament of Champions came out in 2006.

WSOP video poker machines now appear at some Harrah's casinos; the machines are standard video poker machines, but have a bonus feature which allows a player to play a modified game of Texas Hold 'em against the machine.

Beginning in 2007, Harrah's announced the creation of the World Series of Poker Academy, a poker school aimed at providing poker players with the skills needed to win a WSOP Bracelet. The instructors for the Academy include Phil Hellmuth, Greg Raymer, Scott Fischman and Mark Seif. Initial academies were launched in Tunica, Indiana and Las Vegas. (Credit: Wikipedia).


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World Series of Poker Announcers Enhancement to 2008 Main Event Final Table Format



WSOP Evaluating Merits of Rebuy Tournaments, Dan Cypra - 16th December 08
(Credit: Poker News Daily)

Heading into the 2008 World Series of Poker (WSOP), the major change handed down by tournament officials was the introduction of a 117 day break prior to the start of the Main Event final table, which occurred in November. The move was considered by many to be a resounding success, as television ratings and interest in poker boomed as a result. Heading into 2009, rebuy tournaments may become a distant memory.

Poker News Daily has confirmed a rumor that WSOP officials are considering doing away with rebuy events for the 2009 tournament series. There were five rebuy contests held during the 2008 schedule:

Event #5: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em with Rebuys
Event #18: $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball with Rebuys
Event #28: $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha with Rebuys
Event #34: $1,500 Pot Limit Omaha with Rebuys
Event #44: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em with Rebuys

World Series of Poker Communications Director Seth Palansky told Poker News Daily, “For rebuys, we are simply in discussions on the benefits and drawbacks of having these events as bracelet events. We like rebuys and think they are a fun and exciting game for poker players, but at the same time, we are questioning their place in the World Series of Poker.”

In many cases, the rebuy period ends after the first two levels of play in a tournament. However, players can often play very loosely during this time and, if their bankroll allows for it, simply rebuy if they are eliminated. However, this has raised eyebrows as to whether a bracelet is warranted for potentially just having the deepest pockets. For example, during Event #5, Suk Song re-bought 23 times. In 2006, PokerStars pro Daniel Negreanu reloaded an amazing 46 times and added on twice during a rebuy tournament.

In Event #18, Todd Brunson invested a whopping $140,000. To put that number in perspective, Brunson would have had to finish fourth in order to break even; he ultimately did not make the money. Negreanu invested $85,000 in Event #28. This time, however, his gamble paid off, as he finished seventh and cashed for $129,000.

In Event #34, the number of rebuys was up a remarkable 53% in 2009 in comparison to 2008, causing the total prize pool to balloon by 43%. Layne Flack invested $33,000 in the tournament, which meant that he needed to place 12th or better out of 320 entrants in order to make his money back. Luckily, Flack ended up winning the entire tournament and taking home $577,000, or 17 times his buy-in, for his sixth WSOP bracelet.

The $1,000 rebuy tournament first became a part of the WSOP in 2004. In 2005, two $1,000 No Limit Hold’em rebuy tournaments were held, a trend that has existed ever since. One player re-bought 17 times in Event #44 in 2008, although WSOP officials declined to name who he or she was. The top 27 players received $18,000 or more.

Palansky elaborated further, “The bracelet and its prestige are of paramount importance to us and we want to ensure that anyone who does win a bracelet does so because they played the best poker throughout an event.” In 2007, there were six rebuy events held as part of the WSOP festivities. In 2006, there were four, which was one fewer than in 2005. The 2008 WSOP featured 54 bracelet events in total, meaning that rebuys accounted for roughly 9% of the tournaments. The Main Event is a $10,000 buy-in freeze out.

WSOP and Harrah’s officials will likely take into account views from its Players Advisory Council when making a decision. The discussion may focus on whether rebuy tournaments favor deep-pocketed poker players and whether the merits of having a portion of the WSOP schedule devoted to rebuys jeopardizes the esteem of a bracelet.

No timeline has been set for an announcement one way or another and the 2009 WSOP schedule has not been released.


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