The World Series of Poker (WSOP) continues to defy the doom and gloom predictions of many commentators, players and fans – with the Las Vegas series showing an increase in participation on last year of almost 7% through the first 52 tournaments.
The concerns of many following the events of ‘Black Friday’ in mid-April – when the USA Department of Justice (DoJ) shut down Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker – seem to have been unfounded, proving once and for all that people want to play the game in massive numbers.
In fact, this summer’s WSOP at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino should break all previous entrant and prize pool records, although 2004 main event winner Greg ‘Fossilman’ Raymer is pretty certain that tomorrow’s field will not match last year’s number.
With the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Championship main event beginning tomorrow, it does seem unlikely that last year’s field of 7,319 – and the top prize of $8,944,310 won by Canadian Jonathan Duhamel – will be eclipsed without the assistance of the feeder satellites run by the likes of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, among others.
Of course, those three poker websites were targeted by the DoJ on April 15, with federal indictments accusing company executives of deceiving several banks into dealing with illegal gambling payments.
This is definitely a concern for Raymer, who believes the main event – which will be concluded in November – will almost certainly drop below the 6,000-entrant mark, although that will still be a massive increase on the 2,576 players who made up the field when he won $5 million for his first place finish seven years ago.
North Dakota’s Raymer said that, while he expects to be disappointed by the turnout, he won’t be surprised to see a decrease in entrants to a tournament already missing the likes of superstars Doyle Brunson and Phil Ivey.
However, Raymer pointed out that approximately 6,000 competitors will “still be more than twice as many than I had to beat, and more than (2005 winner) Joe Hachem had to beat” when 5,619 players made up the tournament field.
All in all, though, 47-year-old Raymer – who now lives in North Carolina – wanted to emphasise that he and Lebanese-Australian Hachem were not “disappointed winning $5 million and $7.5 million”.
Still, the line-up hasn’t been finalised yet and may still surprise us all by surpassing last year’s mark, although the record 8,773-strong field of 2006, when Jamie Gold took the top prize of $12 million, does appear to be well out of reach.
Meanwhile, a second WSOP bracelet will be going up for sale at online auction website eBay, following Danish star Peter Eastgate’s decision last year to sell his main event award from 2008.
Missouri’s Brad Daugherty – who won the main event back in 1991 to become the first player to win $1 million at the WSOP – has decided to sell his gold bracelet, but will be hoping for better luck this time around after his initial auction failed to reach his reserve price.
The 25-year-old Dane’s gold bracelet sold for an amazing $147,500 last year, while the bracelet of the less well-known Daugherty – which he entered for an eBay auction last year, as well – fell short of his asking price.
He’ll be hoping for better luck this time, though, and – as London-based Eastgate did – 60-year-old Daugherty will give the proceeds of the bracelet’s sale to charity.