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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Queens of Heart organization has shown that while
poker is a competitive activity, it is focused
on charity as well.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
schedule for the WSOP Europe on ESPN2 is as follows:
10:00pm: Episode #1
11:00pm: Episode #2
10:00pm: Episode #3
11:00pm: Episode #4
10:00pm: Episode #5
11:00pm: Episode #6
10:00pm: Episode #7
11:00pm: Episode #8
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.
World Series of Poker is the largest set of poker
tournaments in the world. It is held annually
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Takes "The Pot"
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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")
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.
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
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.
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
would increase in 2004 and 2005 to include preliminary
events from the WSOP, in addition to the "Main
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.
(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
Main Event of the WSOP has been the $10,000 buy-in
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.
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.
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.
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).
end of the 1988 main event was featured in the
Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, the winners in 2003
and 2004, both qualified for the main event through
satellite tournaments at the PokerStars online
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.
players (including former champions, celebrities,
and professional poker players) must supply the
$10,000 buy-in in order to participate.
of the Year
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
#5: $1,000 No Limit Hold’em with Rebuys
Event #18: $5,000 No Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball with
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
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
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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.
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.
timeline has been set for an announcement one
way or another and the 2009 WSOP schedule has
not been released.