Every year thousands of gamers, math geeks, and general nerds gather in Las Vegas to let 52 pieces of paper determine who will walk away with millions of dollars.
Of course, it’s all a little more complicated than that.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is the ultimate can’t-miss event for professional poker players, so I’m here to support my other half. No other tournament draws the quantity or quality of players that the World Series does. And what’s cool about it is that anybody can play. All you need is a few thousand bucks to lose.
As the name suggests, the WSOP is a series of tournaments that lasts about seven weeks. All the events are all played at The Rio, which is a fairly nice casino located just off the strip. They have a whole wing of ballrooms that become dedicated to the WSOP May-July. It’s a good 3-5 minute walk from the casino floor where most of the gambling takes place. The hallway is lined with vendors, and each ballroom off of it is packed to the brim with poker tables. Above each table hangs a sign marking the table number, and cameras are everywhere. There are also TV monitors throughout the room that provide players with essential stats, like how many players remain in a tournament and how many minutes until the next break (players usually get 20 mins every 2 hours, but are allowed to leave the table whenever they want).
New tournaments start every day, and the winner of each receives a gold bracelet and a big fat check.
Each tourney is differentiated by the cost and the rules/game. There are more versions of poker than you might realize. One version Jason really likes to play is called Pot-Limit Omaha (or PLO). In PLO, each player is dealt four cards but only uses two to make the best hand with the cards on the board. And players can’t bet more than the amount already in the pot.
Tournament buy-ins start at $1,500 and mostly hover under $5,000. There’s usually one really big one each year ($25k+) and there’s the main event, which costs $10,000 to play. The Main Event is like the grand finale of the WSOP. It’s No Limit Texas Hold’em, and it draws the largest field (number of poker players) of any tournament in the world. All the greats play. And the winner takes home millions of dollars one one hell of a bracelet.
Last year, the winner took home over a little more than $8.7 million. The prize pool is determined by the number of entries, so we’ll wait and see what kind of payout this year brings.
Two years ago J won a bracelet in the $5k No Limit Event. It was a really big deal. Last year our friend Pi (we call him that because it’s an abbreviated version of his online poker handle) won one. Hopefully we’ll keep the streak going this year and another member of our inner circle will take home some wrist bling. It’s a career-defining moment as a poker-player, and only the best live it more than once.
In addition to the constant tournaments, some of the “juiciest” cash games of the year run during the WSOP. It’s very normal to see a table covered in chips and hundred dollar bills paper-clipped together in $5k or $10k increments. As normal as it is, it still feels weird to me.
If you’d like to read updates from the PLO tournament Jason’s currently playing, you can check them out here. He also posts regular chip updates on twitter, so follow him @TheMasterJ33. And cross your fingers for him! Even the best players need a little bit of luck!