Las Vegas - The WSOP Report
by Tom Murphy
Every poker player worth his salt wants to see Vegas before he goes to the great cardroom in the sky. The Muslims have mecca, we have Vegas. So when PaddyPowerPoker.com and Antesup.com decided it was a good time to send me to report on the World Series of Poker... I wasn't going to argue!
Vegas is a madhouse, a veritable zoo of a place and somewhere that reminded me of nothing so much as main street in Disneyland when my parents brought me there as a nipper. Disneyland liberally dowsed with hookers and neon mind you!
It was hard to decide what to look at first, the life size replica Eifel Tower? The kitchy Sphynx? The Luxor with its formidable onyx-black full-size pyramid and beam of light that shoots from the top floor into the desert night. It is to a gambler what Willy Wonka's factory must be to a chocoholic. Binions, The Belagio, The Rio, The Palms...Which of these ripe treats should we sample first?!
In the midst of all this, in a rather disappointingly down-to-earth convention centre nestled the reason I was in Vegas in the first place. The World Series of Poker. Ask any player what tournament they would want to win and they will tell you the same answer and this year it was bigger then ever before. 5600+ players had begged, borrowed or won the $10,000 needed to take a seat at that game. The hall they were to play in brought it home to us that this was going to be the biggest live game in history. The card room was vast, colossal, with fields of poker tables, 200 in all. Consider your local card club, count up the number of tables and divide it into 200. Thats how many times bigger it was.
The days leading up to the main event were chaotic. Everyone was trying to win a ticket in satellites and the final satellite netted sufficient players to buy not one or two tickets but 33 tickets (at the price of 10,000 a pop)! Thats a big satelite! The morning of the first day arrived and everyone held their breath after the tournament director announced "Shuffle up and deal" waiting for the first poor guy to walk. It took 12 minutes. I dunno about you but I'd be happy to punch any cameraman brave enough to get in my face at that point!
From that point on, they knocked out an average of 2.5 players EVERY MINUTE. Thats a table being broken every 4 minutes!! On each of the three separate "First days" 200+ players each day managed (don't ask me how) to get all 10,000 of their chips in on a 25/50 blind and lose. Thats the first level!!
The first day was a grueling marathon of poker, almost 16 hours were played as the target of 650 players (from the 1850 that started the day) was achieved at 2:30am. The next two days would have to play to that exact second in order that on the fourth day, all the remaining players could join up... so that they could do it all over again.
Day on day we witnessed bright faces eagerly take their seats only to turn into haggard visages by the end of the session. More than one player seemed to snap under the pressure and fall on their swords, or cards as it happens. Eventually we got to the point where they were 6 players away from the money. We'd seen a lot of big names fall both from the Irish camp and the international pros but Andy Black and Conor Tait were still there among others. There was a hoarse and somewhat subdued cheer from the crowd as they made it to the money.
Once the players hit the money, they understood that it would take dozens more of them to fall before the prizemoney would increase and so many decided to gamble. "All-in and call on Table 35" "Table 47" "Table 119" "Table 84". The TV cameramen had a hard time covering even a fraction of the action.
This boiled the remaining 650 odd players down to 27 in double quick time and along the road we lost all the Irish bar Conor Tait and Andy Black. The stage was set for the final three tables of the worlds largest ever poker tournament. Like a traveling circus we decamped and relocated to Binion's Horseshoe Casino, the spiritual home of the event. This is where it all started decades ago and I found myself more drawn to the rough and ready cardrooms of the downtown clubs then the bright lights and fake smiles of the strip. We huddled into a darkened private room that had been turned into a makeshift TV studio. Despite the technical foul ups the world internet media Mcguyvered a wireless solution and sat watching the action on a live TV feed.
27 became 9 as Andy Black powered through the field, particularly when the tables were shorthanded and more and more Irish arrived in to spectate and support. Mike Matusow from Full Tilt Poker was a danger but there seemed to be few other well known players left in the field, most having succumbed to the repeated poor calls of poor players throughout the enormous field.
We broke for the night to allow the players some rest before the final table and the Irish went and hit the bar to celebrate Andy's performance. And to get drunk! When the final morning arrived the world media had arrived in force and tempers flared as reporters who had been there for up to 6 weeks were ousted by the new arrivals. Tensions were eased and everyone was fitted in somewhere. The main table looked spectacular with the whole room engulfed in darkness and the poker table lit up with spotlights and back-lit from below.
The first 10 minutes were as slow and tedious as everyone expected. This was going to be a long day as none of the stacks were particularly under pressure. But Po'Kar (the God of Gamblers) bores easily and sent Kings versus Aces to liven things up. And liven it up it certainly did as the room exploded with excitement and intensity. The next 10 hands all featured enormous pairs or draws and almost each featured an all in from one player or other. The supporters were on their feet shouting and cheering and the Irish had entered a competition with the Aussies to see who could cheer their guy on the loudest. There was even (briefly) the first ever Mexican-wave at a poker event!
The smoke cleared and there were 6 players left for what seemed like an eternity. Andy played his heart out making some of the most courageous calls and bets I've seen and at one stage was a huge chip leader. Many players might have shut up shop and played only the nuts at this point. I knew Andy would never do that, in fact he was more likely to come out firing now more then ever. It took a few bad beats and bad luck to take him down but unfortunately thats exactly what happened and Andy exited the tournament 5th having taken his shot at the title. Joe Hachem (the Aussie!) went on to win it and we wondered away into the bakingly hot Vegas night. Tired, disappointed in part but happy too that we'd all been there to witness it. Andy was proclaimed the best player at the table by all of the top pros. But sure we knew that already.Hide Article [-]
The World Series of Poker - A Brief History
by Tom Murphy
For poker players the world over, this is the big one. The one everyone wants to win. Clinching the money and the bracelet and proving you are the best in the world. Well, we can all dream! The fact is though that such a dream can become a reality. For the past two years the WSOP champion has come from online qualifiers who won their tickets in satellites!
But the World Series consists of many more tournaments than just the main event. Up to 30 WSOP bracelets will be contested from June 2 nd to July 15 th this year. Everything from Limit Holdem to High-Low Omaha will be played and at several buy in levels! Did you know that while the main event may be out of most of our bankroll ranges, there is a $2,000 buy-in event that also carries a bracelet as well as several million in prizes?
In 1949 famous gambler Nicholas "Nick the Greek" Dandolos approached Benny Binion with an unusual request - to challenge the best in a high-stakes poker marathon. So Binion set up a match between Dandolos and Johnny Moss. The game was played in full public view.
This gave Benny Binion the inspiration to later start the World Series of Poker because he noticed big crowds gathering outside the casino every day to watch the game. The first World Series of Poker was held in 1970 and the winner, Johnny Moss, was determined by vote. Starting the following year, the winner was determined by today's format - where everyone plays until 1 player has all the chips. Moss won again the second year. The third year, Amarillo Slim won the title and gave the WSOP some added publicity by going on talk shows, like Johnny Carson.
During the early 1980s, the popularity of the World Series soared because of low-buy in satellites. In 1982, the tournament drew 52 entrants. Five years later, there were 2,141 participants, and the 2002 event attracted 7,595 entries. The prize money has increased proportionately, from $7,769,000 a decade ago to a staggering $19,599,230 in 2002. Whereas only 12 events, mostly Texas Holdem and seven-card stud, were scheduled as recently as 1988, the 2005 tournament offers 45 competitions that feature a wide variety of games.
In the last couple of years the WSOP has experienced yet another period of huge growth - this time due to the combination of Internet poker and televised poker. The broadcast of Late Night Poker, the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour has attracted millions of people to the game while the rise of Internet poker has made it much easier for prospective players to enter satellites in an attempt to win their way into the big tournament.
Already several well known Irish players are heading over to play the main event including qualifiers from PaddyPowerPoker.com! We'll be sure to keep you abreast of how they get on...Hide Article [-]