Record Breaking World Series of Poker


In 1990, a first place finish in the World Series of Poker was $895,000.  Now in 2006, if a player can get to the final table, they are assured of winning over 10 million dollars. Oh, how things have changed.  The number of players is rising at a startling rate.

In the last two years the increase has been over 3000 players each year.  The total number of players for 2006 WSOP is 8773.  The total in 1990 was only 194.  This huge increase in players has dramatically changed the WSOP payoffs.  The 2006 winner will get 10 million dollars.


What brought about this astonishing growth in the world of tournament poker?  One large factor is the number of televised tournaments shown on TV;   Poker has always been popular in the US and around the world.  But it was a private game played in homes or the back rooms of bars and honkytonks.  It was not respectable like it is now.  In fact, it was not even offered in many casinos as the floor space for a poker room was considered too valuable to be used for that purpose.


Another reason for the large number of players is the Internet poker phenomenon.  The Internet allows players to play poker without leaving their home.  Due to the number of poker rooms on the net, this has brought about satellite tournaments, which offer the chance to win a seat in the WSOP for a fraction of the $10,000 seat price.  A player can pay one to two hundred dollars and win a seat in the WSOP.  This has opened the doors to many players who could not put up the 10 grand.  This factor alone accounts for the ever-increasing number of WSOP participants.


The odds of winning the WSOP have jumped tremendously in the last few years.  But the risk/reward potential is worth it in the eyes of many players.  It is also the dream of any poker player to win the WSOP.


The first goal of most players is to finish in the money.   In 2006, a player had to last until there were only 874 players left.  The pressure when nearing this juncture in the tournament is pulsating.  Players with large stacks can take advantage of players just trying to last that long.  If a player makes it this far, this assures the player of winning over 10 thousand dollars.  Each level of survival from this point on increases the winnings of the survivors.  An example from 2006 shows that lasting until 522 players was worth $22,266.


The gigantic increase in the number of players has brought about many changes as to how the tournament is run.   Gone are the days when all of the players could be seated in one room and started at the same time.   The players now start in shifts.  Each shift is allotted so many players.  These shifts keep getting reset as the play is completed.  When the whittled down field is small enough, the play is finally moved to one room.  But, the grinding play continues for the players.  Skill is always important, but luck does favor some and frown on others.  This robust field of players do negate some of the best players' ability as they may play a hand perfectly, only to be beat by an insane call.


TV viewing of this pressure packed event is making poker even more popular.  How big can the WSOP become?  Time will tell, but if the past is portent of the future, this poker extravaganza is just beginning to show its muscle.


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